Trouble sleeping, and further pregnan... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Trouble sleeping, and further pregnancy advice after PP episode?

Faylee
Faylee
12 Replies

So I’m a first time mum I had PP in April this year after my emergency caesarean, it was short lived thankgod and I wasn’t put on any medication except Zoloft then fluoxetine, to maintain my following anxiety, and I’m well now for the most part but my baby doesn’t sleep very well and even when he does I have difficulty falling asleep. I have nights where I feel afraid because I feel like lack of sleep combined with anxiety triggered my PP episode - I don’t have any other conditions. During my PP I had vocal hallucinations. They stopped when I got home after the birth, but I hadn’t told anyone at the time, and I have been to a psychologist & psychiatrist since to deal with what happened, and they can’t really answer it. They seem to think it occurred to do epidural & post caesarean medication combined with a traumatic birth. But I feel like it occurred due to my lack of sleep and anxiety during last week of pregnancy .... now I still can’t sleep well because my baby is up every 2-3 hours. Sometimes I stay over my parents to try and sleep, but I have developed insomnia. Doctors will not give me medicine to sleep 😓 anyone have any tips on how to sleep?? Any over the counter stuff I could take ? Also I have developed a fear of hospitals as my episode occurred while I was at hospital, my psychologist sort of told me to stop worrying Cos it’s over now. But this is only my first baby. My hubby wants another baby. Now I am not so sure. I’m always thinking “what if” what if it happens again? I don’t want to get sick again as it was the scariest thing I have ever experienced 😞 anyone has a similar story, or any advice on getting pregnant again?

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Nicolaba

Hi Faylee,

Lack of sleep is so horrible. I find the best thing to help me sleep is lavender and deep sleep music. I tend to use you tube there are lots on that.

With the lavender I use one of those electronic scent diffusers.

I wouldn’t really suggest you take any sleeping tablets herbal or otherwise as you are getting up in the night still with your baby. But perhaps an idea if someone is able to do the night feeds to allow you a good nights sleep.

I had PPP in 2016 and recently started reading up about having another baby. There’s lots of info on this site. There really is no rush though.

Take care

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lynnybinny

Hi, avoiding stimulant foods and drinks , like sugar and coffee, try oats and bananas and honey, warm baths with essential oils. Yoga, and breathing work, listen to music calming music. Anxiety is sometime the adrenal glands pumping out to many stress hormones.

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Jenny_at_APP
Jenny_at_APPAdministrator

Hi Faylee

Welcome to the forum :)

I’m sorry you’re struggling to sleep. I find it such a difficult thing as it’s a vicious cycle of not sleeping, worrying about not sleeping, and finding it even more difficult as a result. I think lack of sleep was a really big factor in my PP too, which was in 2012.

No one knows for sure what causes PP, there are believed to be biological and hormonal factors and then probably various other factors at play, disruption to sleep patterns is likely one of those.

Disturbed sleep is one of the things I find most difficult about motherhood, being tired just impacts on so much! Do take any help you can get at night with your baby. Then in terms of getting to sleep, there’s lots of advice around good ‘sleep hygiene’. Really trying to relax and avoid anything that’ll stimulate your brain before bed, making sure you go to bed at a consistent time each night... I listened to a talk about sleep and they talked about the ‘sleep bus’ - basically if you miss your window of opportunity to drop off you have to wait til that window comes back round again. So if you’re wide awake in the night and can’t get back to sleep, get up and do something (relaxing) and wait til you feel sleepy again rather than lying there tossing and turning and worrying.

I struggle to sleep when there’s something on my mind so I do really empathise, and when I was recovering from PP it was a huge source of anxiety too, that a bad night would lead to relapse. If your baby’s 6 months old that’s a busy time in their development, hopefully the sleep will start to improve but it’s so tough I know, my second hasn’t been a good sleeper!

I had a second baby in 2016 and luckily didn’t have PP a second time. There’s lots of support and advice available if you decide to try for another baby in the future but try not to worry about it at the moment, just focus on feeling well.

I’m sorry you’ve been through the hell of PP and hope you find lots of support and helpful information here.

Best wishes

Jenny x

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Becciandbump

Lack of sleep is my biggest trigger I have had psychosis due to my bipolar but managed to somehow avoid the ppp possibly because of some of the plans I put In Place regarding sleep,

I struggle to sleep in the day so the whole sleep while the baby sleeps didn’t work for me but I found resting helped, I used to put on music with a cup of tea and reassure myself that if I couldn’t sleep rest was the next best thing. I have found that I’ve almost accustomed myself to living off less sleep and have found that I don’t need as much as I once thought which has reassured me that I’m not going to relapse and has lowered my anxiety. I struggled with falling asleep so was quite happy to stay up to do the midnight feed but then I’d crash really tired and couldn’t function in the 2am 3 am feeds my husband can fall asleep in seconds so he found he could do this feed which took around 40 mins and fall straight back to sleep which meant he had disturbed sleep but was still getting a good number of hours as he went to bed at 10, this is harder if you’re breastfeeding obviously I bottle fed from the start as I knew that night feeds would be a problem for me my sister used to express milk so her husband could do the odd night feed so she could get some rest. By doing this it meant I could sleep from 12-4 and I felt part human again if I got four hours sleep in a row. Equally the fear of not sleeping is sometimes worse than not sleeping itself and it’s a vicious cycle, now when I can’t sleep I actually get up have a cup of tea do something to distract myself then go back to bed and try again I find this easier to cope with than the frustration of lying there and being restless. Also when I’m really not sleeping such as when the kids are poorly and I’ve been up the entire night or disrupted for several days and I feel like I’m a bit spaced out from no sleep I go to the spare room and leave my husband in charge so I can get just one full nights sleep which seems to reset me but this would probably only be an option if you weren’t breastfeeding which I wasn’t so in this case it might not be as much help to you if you are xx

My husband often takes himself off to the spare room when he needs a few consecutive good nights sleep in a row and we’ve tried to view the sleepless nights as a joint effort allowing each other to rest when we each need he’s done a lot more night feeds than his mates did but in return for his efforts he has a wonderful bond with both of them and they’ll often want him in the night sometimes which takes the burden off me doing it all x

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Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Faylee

Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the birth of your baby. You have already had some good advice and there will be other mums here to share similar experiences. This is a great place for support :)

I'm sorry to hear you had such a difficult birth, I too had an emergency c-section with my first son and then suffered the trauma of PP. It's not easy being a first time mum and being at such an early stage in your recovery too. I think if you are worrying it can impact on your sleep. Sometimes writing your worries on a piece of paper and putting them under your pillow to think about the next morning works as a way of clearing your head. I have a 'worry stone' under my pillow which one of my sons bought for me. I'm not sure if it has an effect or whether I'm just exhausted and sleep!

I wonder if you have seen the PP Insider Guide "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... There is also a Guide for partners and personal experiences on the page which you might find helpful.

Just because you are home it doesn't mean that PP is 'done and dusted' as your psychologist seemed to indicate. It might be an idea to ask your GP about counselling or CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) so that you can talk openly about what's on your mind and have professional guidance to help with your thoughts and feelings?

Do you have access to a perinatal mental health support team? I think they offer specialist support until your baby is one year old. Perhaps you could sleep during the day when your baby sleeps until you find a relaxing night routine? Also, as mentioned earlier, is it possible your husband could help with the night feeds for a while? Mindfulness meditation music on YouTube is also very relaxing.

Take good care of yourself ...... we are all here to listen.

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Hazello
HazelloVolunteer

Hi Faylee,

I feel like this is a post i could have written about a year after my son was born. I have always been prone to insomnia but after my experience of PP my attitude to it totally changed and I was practically phobic about not sleeping. My CBT counselling was the most significant thing in helping me to learn to sleep again and to learn to trust my brain not to go psychotic if I couldn't. I found that actually after several bouts of really bad insomnia where i did not actually develop psychosis I used my CBT techniques to focus on the reality and not the fears- ie I've had insomnia hundreds of times and only one time did it result in pscyhosis and that was after giving birth.

Can I just recommend that you look into sleep hygiene and the advice that Becciandbump gave is absolutely what I would second. For me, the main thing is if after 20 minutes of not sleeping get up and stay up doing something distracting (but not stimulating, eg colouring or jigsaws) for as long as it takes until you start to feel tired (like your eyes are shutting). The difficult thing is that when your wee one is waking up regularly it may be that you then start to get tired just as they are about to wake. However the really really important thing for me is that I don't lie in bed worrying about not being able to sleep because then my bed becomes associated with the fears and anxiety and not with sleeping. I find that if I follow this guidance then I have one really horrendous night with almost no sleep but that the next night I'm so shattered that I sleep much better. And I have avoided the association of bed with negative emotions so it kind of breaks the cycle. I have to do this fairly frequently but my insomnia since starting to do this has never lasted as many nights in a row- usually just one night at a time then I sleep better after that.

Another thing that I would recommend if at all possible (might not be possible depending upon your circumstances) is getting a "night off" from time to time. So in my house we have a spare room so I sometimes go in there with an eye mask and ear plugs and my husband does all the night wakings. Just to get a chance to recover a bit without being woken. I was breastfeeding so to start with it was really difficult to get enough sleep but we decided to stop breastfeeding my son at night once he was about 9 or 10 months old (could have been earlier but he was teething and had colds for so long it didn't feel fair!) and my husband would settle him back to sleep instead of me. Sleep training is very controversial to some but I would have to say that for me it kept me sane as he started sleeping through the night again once we had done it and I was able to recover from the sleep deprivation.

I used sleeping tablets for quite some time and i would say that they have a time and a place (eg when recovering from psychosis!) but they are not a long term solution as they prevented me from being able to sleep without them. Sometimes they were very helpful in terms of lowering my anxiety in that I knew I could take them as a one off if there was a night I felt it was really important to get some sleep or if I was starting to lose the plot due to being concerned about my insomnia. I have used herbal things as well but I am dubious about their effectiveness. But I know for me I can't drink caffeinated coffee at all anymore and I can only drink tea in the morning. Coffee in particular I can tell if I've had one too late in the day as my insomnia takes on a particular tenor- my thoughts go at a hundred miles an hour and are like a stuck record. So I only drink decaffeinated coffee now.

Anyway sorry for writing so much but I could probably write a book about insomnia as it is an old friend of mine!

Hope that things start to improve soon

Hazello xxx

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Hazello
HazelloVolunteer
in reply to Hazello

PS this website was recommended to me recently and it contains lots of sleep hygiene advice...

sleepcouncil.org.uk/

It's a British organisation- perhaps you're not in the UK? However I can imagine their may be equivalent organisations local to you if you're not from UK. The sleep hygiene advice is evidence based and will stand wherever you live!

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Faylee

Thank you all so much for your replies it makes me feel a lot better 💕! I will look into sleep hygiene and try taking one night a week off from baby duties.. it’s so hard not sleeping much but I will be positive I want to feel better and energised so I can spend quality time with my baby and actually start enjoying being his mummy instead of worrying about what happened and the future. I don’t have access to a mental health team (perinatal) but they told me I can go to emergency if anything out of the ordinary happens again (god forbid!) at the moment I am seeing a psychiatrist from time to time, next time I see him I will ask about CBT.

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Hazello
HazelloVolunteer
in reply to Faylee

Ps you mentioned being worried about the idea of having another baby... i couldn't even contemplate another pregnancy until my son was about a year old but then my mental health took a nose dive and the idea dropped off my radar again. However I'm now pregnant (due very soon!) And it was when my son was about 2.5 years that the idea started to feel doable. He'll be almost 4 by the time baby is here.

It's still very early days in your recovery and from my experience the fears are not insurmountable but you need to feel ready and in the right place to do it. Things can and will change and your child will (eventually!)sleep better so you'll start to feel more human again.

But i know for myself i had to alter my expectations about family size and how big a gap for siblings. In a way I'm really glad that it's worked out the way it has with the gap as my son attends pre school nursery so I'll be able to sleep during the day, some days (in theory!)

But it can feel like a lot of pressure of expectation that others place on you to provide a sibling. However plenty of people that i know have their expectations thrown by the reality, never mind PP but just pregnancy, birth, or the realities of being a parent!

Hope you're feeling calmer about the sleep situation, and your baby starts to sleep better!

Hazello

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Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Faylee

I'm glad the replies make you feel a lot better ..... I think it helps to know you're not alone! It must be very hard not sleeping ..... have you tried taking a nap when your baby sleeps? As your PP was only months ago the memory of what happened will keep popping up but in time will fade. When I was recovering I felt that the antidepressants made me feel a lot slower, probably to keep me stable, but eventually my energy and confidence returned.

I noticed your reassuring post to someone on the forum who was struggling. I hope the psychiatrist, or even your GP, will be able to refer you for CBT as I think it would be really helpful. I hope you can manage one night off a week from your baby duties.

PP mums are amazing ...... take care. xx

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Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Faylee

I hope you have managed to find some rest, if only a nap during the day. I think CBT would be helpful if the psychiatrist agrees to refer you next time you see him. It's a good way of getting your thoughts out in the open and out of your head, so hopefully you can sleep. We are always here to listen too.

Take care.

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Lilybeth
LilybethVolunteer

Hello Faylee

Just thinking of you and hope your baby is more settled so that you can sleep. I'm not sure if as mums we ever sleep deeply as we are always listening out for our children :) but I hope your psychiatrist might refer you to CBT. Take care. x

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