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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sleep Deprivation in Parents of Newborns: Dealing With It


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A few days back, I came across a very disturbing and tragic piece of news. 

It was about this young mother who had 3 very young children at home - a toddler and a newborn twins. As you can imagine, she was severely sleep deprived. With no help available and no one in the house to look after the kids while she could rest for a while, she was a live ticking bomb. On the fateful day, when she could not bear the exhaustion any more, she took a can of beer, and asking her toddler to wake her up if the babies cried, went to doze off for a while.


By the time she was woken up, one of her twins was dead and the other had suffered enough damage to be pronounced brain-damaged for the rest of its life. The toddler had wanted to give the babies a clean. The baby had filled the tub with chilled water and had put the twins inside, to make them clean-clean.

The mother was arrested for gross negligence.

Friends, neighbours and family of the young woman described her as being a loving and caring mother, who was perfectly aware of her responsibilities and was a sensible young mom. 

What happened that tragic day is anybody's guess......

While everyone will tell you to sleep as the new baby sleeps, come on, that just does not happen! And do what you may, most young parents, especially the mother, or in cases where the father may be the main care-giver, is the most sleep deprived one around!

And believe me when I say this...no amount of having kids can prepare you for the kind of sleep deprivation you will be facing. So whether you've just had your first, or more, you'll pretty much face an equally hard time with sleep. And in most cases, it's more difficult once you already have a child. I have a 6-year-old and a 4-month-old and I am having a hell of a time with sleep too....with barely 4-5 hours of sleep on good days, and 3-4 hours on regular days, 7 days a week......

Sleep deprivation is risky....it can be fatal, it can completely wreak havoc on your entire health and well being.

Here are some of the most common effects of sleep deprivation:
  1. Slows down your concentration, alertness, attention, reasoning, understanding and problem solving
  2. Partial memory loss
  3. Can lead to accidents - minor, and in some cases, major and life threatening
  4. Heart attack and other heart related diseases
  5. Diabetes
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Less or no interest in sex
  8. Lead to weight gain and obesity
  9. Damage your bones
  10. Increase the risk of cancer
  11. Reduce your life span
  12. Irritability
  13. Emotional imbalance
  14. Depression
  15. Increase in appetite
  16. Dark circles, hooded eyes, fine lines and wrinkles, patchy skin
  17. Hallucination
  18. Weak immunity
Here are a few tips I use to deal with sleep deprivation. Some of these tips can help you too:

Try and sleep an hour earlier: Try to lie down with baby, even if it may not be nap time. Switch off the lights, switch off everything. Let baby feel this is the time to sleep.

Respond as less as possible and let baby feel you are sleeping: Of course your baby might try and play and want to make noises with you and do everything but sleep. Don't respond. Lie down quietly, and sometimes, when all is quiet, you'll be amazed how baby may doze off too!

Sleep with baby: Yes, every one says so, but try it.

Do the chores when someone is around: Once your partner is around, you can do all the leftover chores and work you need to finish. Let your partner handle baby while you shower, eat and do anything else. Trust me, the last thing you'll be able to do then is sleep. So do that when the baby is sleeping and do the chores and work when someone is around to hold baby.

Ask for help: The moment you feel you're over tired, over worked and need a break...SAY IT!

- Debolina Raja Gupta
**********************************************
And like I always believe in and say:
'Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children' - MJ
Happy Parenting!!!!

Be good to your little one, and to the millions of little ones out there who truly need every bit of love and compassion they can get.....Be a grown up...save the little ones.... Debolina Raja Gupta
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