I personally could use a nap right now — and my sons are 13, 14, 15 and 16. So I KNOW moms of little ones could really use a nap.
During the first six weeks after her baby's birth, the average new mom spends 20% more of her day awake than she did before her baby was born. If you're so tired that the only thing keeping you awake is lots of strong coffee, take a cue from your baby, and catch a nap. Naps are a great way to catch up on lost sleep. Here are some of the many benefits of naps.
— Moms who nap along with their babies might be less likely to suffer postpartum depression.
— Moms who nap are more likely to have babies who nap, because newborns tend to adopt their mothers' circadian sleep rhythms.
— Napping can make being a mom a little easier. Sleep deprivation can hinder a mother's ability to care for her infant because her judgment and concentration decline.
— Naps might help new moms lose their pregnancy weight. Lack of sleep produces changes in appetite-regulating hormones, which tend to make you feel hungrier in general and less satisfied after you do eat. Studies show that with less sleep, we tend to increase our caloric intake.
— Babies who nap during the day are more likely to exhibit an advanced level of learning, and the same is true for new moms.
— Napping improves memory and performance on new tasks, and there are plenty of those for new moms to learn. As it turns out, taking a short siesta helps "engrave" new information into the long-term memory.
— Taking a midday snooze along with your baby can boost mood, memory, reaction time and alertness, especially when you're sleep deprived.
— Naps are good for your heart. Studies show that napping might lower the risk of death due to heart disease by more than a third.
Here's how mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — get their own babies to nap.
"My husband loves to play video games, which was not my favorite thing, but when our kids were born, it suddenly came in very handy," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas. He put our baby on his chest with her arms and legs splayed out. He calls it the 'tree frog.' He would sit for hours with her napping like that while he's playing video games. That was great for all of us! But I admit I still give him a hard time for playing video games so much."
"It's difficult to find time for self-care, but it's absolutely necessary for both your and your baby's well-being," says Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., an internal medicine specialist and the author of "Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity" in Anniston, Alabama. "As a breastfeeding mom, I found myself constantly tired. The disrupted sleep and late hours began to take a toll on my health and energy level. I began to follow the old adage, sleep when the baby sleeps.
"This was very easy to do with my first child, but when my second son was born 21 months later, I found that it was much harder to do," Dalton-Smith continues. "I learned that keeping naptime flexible with the older child meant that I could put him down during one of the baby's naps, which allowed time for me to nap while both slept. I could have used that time to clean the house or do laundry or any number of household chores, but the reality is I needed the sleep more than I needed a clean house. Those family nap sessions became a standard at our house and helped to keep all of us well rested and happy."
Dr. Rallie's Tips
"When my first two sons were babies, I always tried to catch up on work or exercise the minute I put them down for their naps. I didn't want to 'waste' one minute of my precious free time sleeping! I found out the hard way that sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. I was exhausted most of the time. By the time my youngest son was born, I had learned my lesson. Whenever I put him down for a nap, I'd be right behind him. The funny thing is that when you get plenty of sleep, it seems as if you can do twice as much in half the time. Spending a little more time sleeping actually saved me time in the long run." — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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