Sleep deprivation is known as a form of torture so it is not surprising to hear parents talking on the You and Yours programme about how lack of sleep has such an impact on mental wellbeing and relationships. From the doula perspective we want to see families given much more emotional, practical and informational support – someone dedicated to listen to the particular issues faced by a family, someone who can come in and watch the baby for a couple of hours so that Mum or Dad can get some shut-eye, and someone who is able to signpost evidence-based information, such as Helen Ball’s research from the Infant Sleep Information Source, to enable a family to come to the conclusions that work for them. It is crucial to understand what babies’ sleep patterns look like and to understand their needs around feeding – we also have to get rid of this term “sleeping through the night” because, as we discussed in a recent blog, that can mean something so different for different families. We also have to acknowledge how, for many parents, life has to carry on as normal with work shifts, other children to look after, lack of familial support etc. We hear in the programme that many families resort to crying-it-out methods in desperation, knowing that there is evidence that the technique is detrimental to their stress levels, baby’s development and secure attachment – wouldn’t it be lovely if those families had the support they needed earlier on so that they didn’t need to reach for something so traumatic for all?
To find support from a postnatal doula or sleep supporter visit the Nurturing Birth Directory