In our experience, the mothers who stay particularly healthy postpartum are the ones who allow themselves to sleep as much as they feel necessary. Most say that they took two- to three-hour naps every day for the first six months of their babies' lives. They didn't jump up to clean house or cook or pay bills when baby fell asleep. When their babies slept, they slept. Another perk: Those naps provided for bonding and snuggling time with their babies.
Being on the same sleep-wake cycle during the first months of the baby's life also helps to establish a trusting rapport between mother and child. Moms who go back to work within weeks of giving birth don't get the benefit of these daytime naps with their little ones, and their health can suffer as a result.
Certain types of brain waves known as delta- and theta-waves that are generally accessed only in deep sleep trigger the brain to produce beneficial hormones like melatonin, growth hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and sex hormones. Deep sleep also allows the brain to restore its supply of neurotransmitters that allow the cells of the nervous system to communicate with one another and with the rest of the systems of the body.
From A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins with Melissa Block. Copyright © 2002 by Dr. Dean Raffelock. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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