Sleep in the Postpartum: Characteristics of First-Time, Healthy Mothers

Sleep Disord. 2017:2017:8520358. doi: 10.1155/2017/8520358. Epub 2017 Oct 17.


Goals for the present study were to (a) describe the sleep of healthy new mothers over a 6-month postpartum period, (b) examine how sleep quality relates to daytime levels of fatigue and sleepiness, and (c) evaluate the relationship between mothers' and infants' sleep parameters. The sample consisted of 37 healthy, partnered, first-time mothers who had experienced full-term vaginal birth and had a healthy infant. We investigated infants' sleep parameters and mothers' sleep, mood, and daytime functioning 2 and 6 months postpartum. We found that at 2 months postpartum, mothers reported sleeping 6 hours at night and just under one hour during the day. Despite relatively frequent nocturnal awakenings, mothers experienced minimal insomnia, nonrefreshing sleep, anxiety, depression, daytime sleepiness, or fatigue at either 2 or 6 months. The most robust relationship between mothers' and infants' sleep was in the number of nocturnal sleep-wake episodes. Of note is that none of the infant sleep parameters was related to mothers' anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleepiness, or nonrefreshing sleep at either time period. Our results indicate that (1) selected low risk new mothers are resilient in terms of sleep quality, daytime functioning, and mood and (2) these are independent of their infants' sleep parameters.