Dear Is This Normal,

I can’t sleep In the same room as my baby, she’s 5 weeks old and all the noises she makes while asleep keep me awake and on edge. I have anxiety and need sleep. My husband and I have been taking turns sleeping between lounge and bed because he can fall asleep with all her noises. I’ve tried background music and white noise but it doesn’t work. Is this normal? 

Signed, 

No Sounds Sleeper

Dear Sleeper (or should I say Sleepless?!),

It’s crazy how much noise such little humans make, isn’t it? It’s not even the crying. It’s the sighing and the gurgles and the little peeps and that sweet little noise their lips make when they pop open. These are all great sounds, but not when you’re an exhausted new mama and you just need to get some sleep. Because even though the little noises they make are normal, the signals they send to our hormonal postpartum brains can definitely put us on edge. It’s not really about your baby making noises while sleeping.  It’s about how your new mommy brain interprets those noises. Since you mentioned that you suffer from anxiety, there’s a chance that what you’re dealing with here is postpartum anxiety and we need to talk about that.

Anxiety is never fun, but it can become really hard to manage after you have a baby. We hear a lot about postpartum depression, but postpartum anxiety is another postpartum mood disorder that affects approximately 17-18% of new moms. Some worry and anxiety is normal after having a baby. We worry about if they’re eating enough or getting enough sleep. We worry about whether  they’re too warm or too cold. Mundane activities that didn’t give you a moment’s pause now take on a whole new level of worry, like driving or even taking a shower while your baby is tucked safely in their crib in the next room. Anxiety is a biological response to taking on this enormous responsibility! But when those worries start to snowball, or you reach a level of anxiety that is impacting your ability to function during the day or sleep at night, that’s more than just the usual new parent worries.

Sleep deprivation when you have a newborn is (unfortunately) par for the course. But it doesn’t sound like you’re unable to sleep because she’s loud; it sounds like you aren’t able to sleep because every sound she makes puts you on high alert about what you perceive to be a problem or danger. Your ears will pick up her noises, even over white noise and music. Because it’s not the noise that’s putting you on alert, it’s your brain. 

 I totally relate, mama. I also had postpartum anxiety and no matter what the logical side of my brain told me, I was in a near-constant state of worry about everything. It’s hard to shut your brain off when thoughts are racing, but it’s near impossible to do so when you have postpartum anxiety. 

You’re right. You need to sleep. Right now, if your current sleeping arrangement with your husband works for you and you’re able to relax and get some shut-eye when you can’t hear her little sleep noises, then keep doing that. Being sleep-deprived can only exacerbate your already fragile state. 

But I also want you to talk to someone. Your pediatrician, your doctor, a friend, your husband. Get the ball rolling on figuring out if what you’re dealing with here is more than just the usual new mom adjustment. You should have your first postpartum check-up coming soon, yes? Talk to your doc. There are lots of treatment options available, like therapy or complementary treatments. Simple and small lifestyle changes like exercise and meditation and relaxation techniques can also help you manage some of your anxiety. The first and most important step is asking for help. 

To Sleeping Soundly Once Again,

Is This Normal

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