Why Your Birth Experience and Sleep Are Connected

Trigger Warning–this blog discusses the idea of birth trauma, and a non-descriptive example.

Why Your Birth Experience and Sleep Are Connected and What You Can Do About It

What’s YOUR birth story?


I like to keep it light up in here. I mean, I’m someone who loves a good wine, a good comedy more than anyone. But lately, I’ve had something in me that I just had to write. And after working with an especially inspirational client last month, it was an easy task.

Birth stories and helping our children sleep actually go hand in hand and yes, I was surprised too. No two births stories are the same and many moms are now opening up not only about their birth stories but traumas they may have endured during the experience. According to the Birth Trauma Association, birth trauma is defined as “Instead of [birth] being joyful and happy, the experience of giving birth has been frightening”. This can lead to ongoing depression, anxiety or even PTSD (https://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/).

Since writing this post, I’ve connected with Libby at Diary of an Honest Mom, and her post about 10 Tips for Recovering from Postpartum Depression offers some great advice for moms who need some help in getting through the rough time after birth.

It wasn’t until the 4th or 5th mom opened up to me about how long they waited to help their children sleep because they were carrying the heavy load of guilt from their birth trauma that I made the connection between helping baby sleep and mom’s personal guilt or fear about the process.

Is this you?

“I should be lucky to have this baby–can I ask for anything more?”
“I feel so guilty about letting this baby shed another tear”
“This whole things takes me right back to (insert tough stuff here)”

And I hear these words, over and over and over as why moms hold back from helping their baby sleep even when the mama is quite literally suffering.

So…what now?

Let me talk to you about Andrea–who was open with me early in the process about her birth trauma. Andrea experienced a life-threatening infection at birth and wasn’t expected to live. She was hesitant about sleep training because she feared her daughter would feel like she was abandoned. Andrea prided herself on being a responsive mom and didn’t want to jeopardize their attachment: “I was determined to be there for my girls for EVERY whimper, cry, and to meet their EVERY need. After having a near death experience, I felt like I should try to “enjoy” every moment with the girls and that I should feel extra grateful to be alive. What I did not think about was the fact that I was SUFFERING. In trying to be “supermom”, in trying to keep everyone happy, I had become so sleep deprived that I was actually living in a haze.”

Andrea was living her day to day with classic exhaustion symptoms, “it’s difficult to describe in words. Most mornings my legs were weak, I had bags under my eyes, I often felt nauseated, and I did not have the energy I needed for our two busy girls.”

Shortly after a friend recommended that we chat, Andrea and I started working together. Avery made significant improvements in her sleep after only 2 days working together and Andrea felt almost an instant change in her energy levels: “It has been the best feeling to wake up in the morning and feel refreshed and energized. The other day I actually had enough energy to have a dance party with my toddler in the family room. We danced, laughed, and had the most amazing moment together. It felt so good to finally be “present” again and free from my terrible sleep-deprived haze.”

What next for you?

I felt compelled to write this as a bookmark piece. You know, the ones you google over and over again to reassure you of something (for me in my early postpartum days, it was wake window charts and anxiety resources). The ones that make you feel like there’s a light, and that you’re normal(facebook mom groups are SO good at this sometimes too!)

I come across mamas like Andrea everyday: exhausted, guilty and, not feeling like they’re worthy of catching a break.
You do not deserve to suffer because you or your baby had a hard time at birth.

Let me repeat…
You do not deserve to suffer because you or your baby had a hard time at birth.

And I don’t mean this in relation to just sleep either–I mean in ANYTHING.
Does breastfeeding suck? Call a lactation consultant or talk to your doctor
Are you lonely? It’s ok to feel that, share that with another mama and make a friend.
It’s ok to say that parts of motherhood suck, are hard, or you want a break from the experience–even if you experienced a birth trauma.
You can have both.

Did any of this resonate with you? Book a call to talk with me.
And in the meantime, I’ve included a link to a wealth of resources for postpartum women going through some mental-health gymnastics. Call it, PPA/PPD/ Trauma—all of these resources are a great place to start in your journey back to YOU. 

Whether you’re at the beginning stages of sleep training with your baby or you just want to improve your mental health as a parent, the sleep consultants at Baby’s Best Sleep are here to help.

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