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The Key to Surviving New Mom Sleep Deprivation

Avoiding sleep deprivation as a new mom is like avoiding aching legs when training for a marathon. It just doesn’t happen.

So enough with the “sleep when baby sleeps” and other “just sleep more!” advice.

Speaking on behalf of all new moms, if we could sleep more we would! Duh!

The fact is, babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night. Sure, it’s inconvenient for the parents, but, hey, we’re parents. It comes with the territory.

(Guess what? Even toddlers don’t always sleep through the night! Check out #1 on this post here.)

So how do you cope if, like me, sleep deprivation is hard hard hard? Especially if, like me, you had to go back to work when your baby was still just a baby and you’re still doing a lot of night-nursing?

Here’s what I found to work amazingly for me – herbal supplementation!

I’m not talking just any old supplementation. Forget the giant bottles of Vitamin B12 chewables from Costco.

Mother Earth Living put together a fantastic post called “Heroic Herbs for New Moms.” Here’s what I found most useful in handling new mom sleep deprivation (check out the full post for dosages).

#1 – Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)

This is an herb from the Indian Ayurvedic tradition of medicine. Considered an adaptogen, it helps “gently support the adrenal system, reducing irritability and jangled nerves, while serving as a gentle support to the immune system.”

I don’t know about you, but calming jangled nerves is something I absolutely needed as a new, working mom. I also want to do as much as I can to support my immune system. Being sick while nursing and caring for a baby is the worst! And sleep deprivation is one of the fastest ways my immune system is weakened.

#2 – Nettle (Urtica dioica)

This herb is super nutritious with lots of vitamins and trace minerals, including iron which you need lots of during pregnancy, postpartum, and while nursing. It’s perfect “if you’re feeling stressed or physically or emotionally drained.” Uhhh … yes, yes, and yes.

Just buy the herbs loose and make a tea out of it, or do an infusion (basically, steeping the herb for anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours). I’ve been drinking nettle teas or infusions off and on since pregnancy.

#3 – Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)

Red raspberry leaf tea is amazing. Like nettle, it’s rich in minerals but it also tones the uterus and is the go-to herb for nourishing all female reproductive organs.

I buy these herbs loose as well and combine them with my nettle to make an infusion. Nettle and red raspberry both also help promote breast milk supply since it’s hard for your body to create milk when you’re tired and undernourished.

#4 – Catnip (Nepeta cataria) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) 

Catnip is relaxing, eases stress, and can help reduce colic and fussiness in Baby as she gets a little bit through your breast milk. Fennel is considered a galactagogue, or breast milk promoter, and is much easier on your system (in my experience) than fenugreek.

Because I can only drink so many teas and infusions, I purchased this great catnip and fennel extract to make it really easy. When my little one was extra gassy, for whatever reason, I’d also give her a drop or two on her tongue and the gas pains would go away!

#5 – Skullcap

Okay, skullcap is huge for me. According to the article, you can use it short- and long-term to support your nervous system. I started taking it as soon as I read that it’s used to “promote restful sleep and treat irritability.”

YES!

I don’t know about you, but I get very irritable when I don’t sleep. Imagine how irritable, cranky, and downright angry I can get after months and months (over a year now) of sleep deprivation! I personally take the organic, alcohol-free kind…just a dropper full in some water 3 times a day and I’m cool as a cucumber!

There you have it, folks! The keys to surviving new mom sleep deprivation. Don’t bother expecting to get more sleep. Just give your body a little extra support during this difficult, precious, and fleeting time. It’ll be over sooner than you think!

You can read more about breastfeeding-safe herbs at the full post, which is actually an excerpt from Natural Health after Birth (Healing Arts Press, 2002) by Aviva Jill Romm.

Happy herb-hunting, Momma

 

First published at www.motherearthliving.com

Featured image source: www.fotolia.com

Reese

Reese Leyva is a first-time mom whose countless hours of reading about and researching pregnancy, birth, and gentle/respectful parenting have led her to one inevitable conclusion - moms and babies are amazing! When she's not writing or studying to complete her certification as a Childbirth Educator, she's playing in the dirt with her super cool infant daughter or cooking alongside her nifty artist husband.

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