We have affiliate relationships where we are paid a commission on sales through some of our links. See our disclosures.

Episode 11: The Fourth Trimester and Sleep

Show notes
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Stop us if you’ve heard that one before! This advice is well-intentioned (and may work for some) but it’s hardly a good solution to the very real, very frustrating phenomenon of sleep deprivation that parents (especially first-time parents) experience. In this episode, Dr. Harris talks to pediatrician Dr. Mona Amin about the importance of getting good sleep during the “fourth trimester,” why it can be so hard, how your sleep changes postpartum (hormonal shifts, newborn baby sleep schedules, etc.), and provide some tips on how to actually get sleep.

Episode-related links:
A Comprehensive Guide To Babies And Sleep
The Ultimate Guide To Sleep Training Your Baby
Fighting Sleep Deprivation as New Parents


Dr. Shelby: How are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? I’m Dr. Shelby Harris, licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis, where we dive deep into all things sleep so you can get the rest you deserve. 

If you enjoy listening to Sleep Talking with Dr. Shelby, take a second right now to give us a 5-star rating through Spotify, Apple podcasts, or wherever you are listening. It seems simple, but it actually helps us reach a lot more people. 

While you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe. A new episode of science-backed sleep tips is available every other Wednesday. 

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: just sleep when the baby sleeps. Though this advice is well intentioned and it might work for some, it’s hardly a good solution to the very real, very frustrating phenomenon of sleep deprivation that parents experience regularly.

Especially those first-time parents. And I remember because I’ve been there. To explore this topic more, we’ve invited Dr. Mona Amin, a practicing pediatrician since 2015 and a certified lactation consultant, Dr. Mona loves sharing smart, helpful advice to make the motherhood journey a little easier and a lot more joyful.

Dr. Mona, I can already tell that you’re an excellent guest because we love sharing smart, helpful advice here. So thank you for being here and welcome to the show. I know we’ve talked before and I can’t wait to talk more with you today. 

Dr. Mona Amin: Oh, thank you so much. You know, you’ve been on my show and I’m just so glad to come on your show now and talk about this very important topic, which I think everyone needs and can relate to, which is sleep after having a baby.

DS: It feels impossible. I remember I put something on my Instagram a few weeks ago where there was a pretty well-known sleep doctor who said, just for new moms, sleep when the baby sleeps. And I did that as like a stitch. I was like, yeah, right. And so many people related to that. It was pretty amazing. It’s really a struggle for a lot of people.

MA: And you were right on that advice, the sleep when the baby sleeps. I do agree that it is wel- intentioned, right? It’s not trying to be not understanding of a situation. It’s like, hey, when your baby’s resting, you should prioritize rest, but there’s so much going on besides taking care of a baby that when your baby’s sleeping, sometimes you have to do other things around the house, or maybe you can’t rest your mind, or maybe you want to take care of yourself a little bit because you have been pouring your energy into this baby.

So I think that’s where that rolling of the eyes comes when people hear that statement. 

DS: Yeah. 

MA: I have two children. I had birth trauma with both children, unfortunately. So I can tell you how important sleep is not just from a, okay, it’s important, but from a physiological recovery standpoint. I needed sleep for my body, having gone through trauma, and for everyone listening who has birthed a child, we know how traumatic it is, even if you didn’t quote unquote have birth trauma. Your body just went through something so physical, and sleep is important, but of course we have to manage expectations that it may not be the sleep that we once knew when we were pregnant, or before becoming pregnant, or before even having children, if you’re adopting a child or using a gestational carrier.

And I think there’s a few things that we have to think about. One, there’s hormonal shifts. And these are hormones like progesterone, which is a female sex hormone, right? Progesterone has some sleep inducing properties, and also changes in melatonin. All of these things can impact our rhythm, right? When you are going about your normal routine, maybe you go for a walk in the morning, maybe you exercise in the morning. You have all this rhythm going and then a baby comes and your life is surrounding this baby that you may not have that rhythm. You may not have that normal hormone production that can help with that natural sleep wake cycle for you as a parent, especially as a mom. So it’s very natural for sleep to go to the wayside or have a harder time falling asleep and then you add in things like postpartum mental health disorders, right?

We have anxiety, depression, these are real things that women deal with, you know, postpartum blues is one thing but I’m talking anxiety and depression which is a real thing that many mothers think, well this is normal feelings and then I talk to the mothers in my office and I’m like you’re not sleeping?

I’m like, what are you doing when your partner, let’s say a male partner, is handling the baby. What are you doing? They’re like, I’m laying in bed, but I can’t rest my eyes. I’m like, well, then we have to figure out what is going on here. What are we needing to do? Because why can’t you rest? Are you thinking about all the other things that are needing to happen for your baby?

Are you thinking about the safety of your baby? Because that can get into a little bit of gray area postpartum anxiety. Or are we just, thinking about other things. Why can’t we rest our brain and use that advice that you just said, sleep when the baby sleeps? What is it that’s prohibiting you from resting when the baby’s resting. And if it’s a safety concern, you’re worried that your baby is not sleeping safely, if it’s worried that you know, you want more time for yourself. It’s diving deeper because yes, the hormones exist. Yes, your routine is out of whack with the new baby in your life. But also we have to think about knowing all that is true, how are you showing up to those moments that you do actually finally get that stretch of sleep, whether it’s an hour, whether it’s two, whether it’s three. I mean, I know in those early months, it’s not going to be more.

So we can really dive deeper and find out how we can support that family so that they’re not sleep derived, because that can affect everything in their life. 

DS: Yeah, and I think the newborn sleep schedules is really, it throws people for a loop and people don’t always understand why. 

MA: Yeah, and so I want to really normalize that you are right, that there is no rhyme or reason to a lot of things. You’re going to read a lot of books that say, okay, this is how we get our baby on a schedule. And you know, I have my own sleep resources for newborns to basically toddlers. But I’m very clear on saying all of these recommendations are recommendations to guide their rhythm. But we know that babies themselves aren’t really producing melatonin.

Early is probably six weeks to two months. It’s really hard for us to say with certainty, but a lot of that rhythm and melatonin production has to do with them understanding sleep wake cycle. So things like taking them out in the morning for a morning walk, having a bedtime routine. Really doing things that we do also and a lot of us have forgotten to do that really help with sleep hygiene. 

And that is something that, you know, I want to normalize that really can’t be created until as early as six weeks. And so when we talk about normal rhythm in the first few weeks, that baby doesn’t know what’s happening versus day or night, right?

They come home. A lot of parents will get stressed and tell me, oh, my gosh, like my baby is up all night and asleep during the day. Well, that makes sense because they were in a dark environment for nine months, and now they’re trying to figure out what a rhythm is, like, what does it mean to be awake and asleep?

DS: They’ve had no light, dark cues in utero. I mean, there’s really nothing. And that’s what sets the circadian, that body clock. And it’s not like the baby’s born and all of a sudden they get that light, dark rhythm. They have to figure it out. So that’s interesting to realize. I didn’t appreciate that melatonin in babies, really, we don’t start seeing it until at six weeks, like having some sort of a rhythm and a pattern to help set that cycle.

MA: And I think, you know, a lot of the research out there on when does that baby actually produce melatonin, I think we really need to also say, well, is it that the parent isn’t doing the light exposure, all of the things that we know can help. So I usually say, okay, the first three weeks you’re in survival mode. Let’s be honest.

If you’re breastfeeding especially, you are working on feeding, you are working on rhythm, you are learning about your baby’s cues, the hunger and sleepy cues of a baby. But that’s what your job is. You’re learning about temperament. You’re learning about, well, what does my baby need to settle down for a nap or for sleep?

You know, what is it that they need? But around that three to four week mark, you can start incorporating morning walks with your baby, if you haven’t already. This helps to get that sunlight exposure in the morning. And then also, like I mentioned, starting that bedtime routine around four weeks, I’d say start it if you can, because I don’t want to create pressure.

If you’re doing this, like going for a walk and doing a bedtime routine and it’s causing you more stress as a parent, it’s not conducive to anything. So if it’s something that you want to incorporate, start incorporating these things because that morning light exposure, you know, obviously not direct sunlight because of their skin, and that evening bedtime routine, even though they’re not sleeping through the night at this age, can really help with them understanding the routine. 

DS: It’s an anchor. 

MA: Yes, which is what helps us with sleep. We know that as adults too. And why my husband, who’s an ER doctor, struggles with sleep is that there’s no routine or rhythm. That can really impact your sleep and sleep hygiene. 

DS: Yeah, and I always say too that the bedtime routine doesn’t need to be anything drawn out. 

MA: Yes. 

DS: I mean, when I think about my newborns and just even when they were just, but they were little, but both my kids. I just picked a random time, like nine o’clock or eight o’clock.

MA: Yeah. 

DS: They were up every two hours. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. 

MA: Correct. 

DS: And I just read a book. And then right before we read the book, I would just either do like a little sponge bath or wipe them down, put them in pajamas. And then a book and then bed. It was like, just a random thing but it was an anchor to know that the evening was coming.

MA: I love that because it’s, choose a time between 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. That’s literally your window, right? And I also see like, I have a lot of families who deal with colicky babies or babies who have that, let’s say that witching hour, right? That witching hour that occurs after 5 p.m. And this is a baby who’s maybe four weeks to six weeks old, all of a sudden is just cranky in the evening.

And that rhythm can also help in terms of calming you down and also calming the baby down. And very short, like you mentioned, it does not have to be stressful or time conducive. And I think you would agree that that’s a mistake I think a lot of parents make. not even just in the newborn phase, but also as the child gets older to make this overdrawn production.

DS: Oh yeah. 

MA: And then that’s what we expect a production when it doesn’t have to be. It can be to the point. Simple. And of course I have strategies across the ages on how to do that, but it is very important, like you said. 

DS: And it slowly adds on, that’s what people, like it starts to become, because as the child gets older, they start asking for more things, and then the bedtime routine gets more and more. So start small, and just try to keep it as simple as possible. 

Now I mentioned earlier, the fourth trimester, like why do we call it the fourth trimester? I know that that was mentioned in a book a while ago, but what, what’s that about? 

MA: So the fourth trimester, the understanding of this is that babies are still developing so much that they probably should have been in utero for another trimester, meaning they are so reliant on us in those first three months after they come out of utero that why weren’t they just in the body for three months longer? That’s kind of the concept is that this is a very pivotal time. 

I look at this as a very, I don’t know if people believe in evolution, but I look at this as an evolutionary perspective. When a baby comes out. That fourth trimester, or let’s say that first three months of a baby’s life, if people weren’t sure what that meant, that first three months, they are very reliant on their caregiver.

Obviously, infants are as well, that’s no denying that. But you are learning about your baby’s cues, right? You’re learning about their hunger cues and their sleepy cues, like I mentioned, and they are so reliant on you. And this is important because that’s how we bond with our baby. And from an evolutionary perspective, when you’re bonded to an infant, you’re less likely to give them up to the wolves, right?

DS: Yeah. 

MA: You are so bonded to them. It’s almost, I describe it to my families in my office. It’s going to be tough because it’s meant to be tough so that you feel extra bonded to them. I know that sounds twisted, but it’s almost like a hazing. 

DS: You’ve put in the work. 

MA: You’ve put in the work. It’s not going to be like this forever. You know, I tell my families, I know this is hard, but this is not going to be like this forever. You will get longer stretches of sleep. But we have to focus on if that’s something you want to do, how are you feeding, breast, formula, what can we do to give you stretches. 

And so really understanding that the fourth trimester is a reality, that child is still developing like they are in infancy as well, but that they are still very much reliant on you, that we’re not going to be able to do any form of official sleep training if a family really wants to do official sleep training, that, really, we gotta wait until that baby’s a little closer to three, four months, that they’re showing signs of self settling.

That is really important and that’s something that I also preach in all of my resources, too.

DS: Can we talk a little bit more about why sleep is so crucial for moms at this stage in that fourth trimester? Like, what are some specific issues that you might see arise in your office if someone seems particularly sleep deprived during that time? Like, do you have things that you notice are going on with parents? What are some of those red flags for you? 

MA: Well, your entire podcast describes how important sleep is. And so I also have been pro sleep, you know, if I’m going to say a term like I’m probably very much on an extreme of really supporting good sleep quality. And that’s why I love following you.

It’s not just about getting sleep. It’s about getting quality sleep. That’s so important. 

DS: Thank you. 

MA: You know, there’s no denying that that fourth trimester is going to be difficult when it comes to quality and quantity. I’m not going to deny that and say, oh my gosh, what are you talking about? I’m so rested. But, you know, we cannot expect the full seven hours so early on, maybe that’s what you’re used to. But the eventual goal is stretching sleep naturally. 

Now, what I see clinically, if a parent is sleep deprived, is more irritability, right? We know this, and this is not new and from anyone who’s, wherever you are in your life, you’re going to have more irritability if you’re sleep deprived.

You may make more accidents, meaning you might be more clumsy. You may trip more. Your physical ability is going to be compromised. Your mental ability and cognition is going to be compromised. You’re going to be more irritable, like I mentioned, whether that’s to your partner or to your child. And so I see this. 

Now everybody responds to sleep deprivation differently. So in my office, I’m not going to say with full certainty that, oh, you’re like this because of your lack of sleep, but I’m going to ask the family, well, how is sleep going? How are you feeling right now? How is speeding going? Because I think sometimes when we talk about sleep, we forget to ask questions about feeding when both of those things are very much connected in the postpartum period.

If the baby’s feeding every 30 minutes, no wonder the mom is sleep deprived because something’s going on. Is the latch not good? Is the baby not satiated? What is going on that we cannot get a three hour stretch? Because by the time a baby’s one month, we should be seeing two to three hour stretches of sleep between feeds.

And if we’re not, something’s going on. Either the baby is not getting enough calories, and that’s why they’re waking up or the parent thinks it’s hunger when it’s actually not and the baby was just perhaps moving through a sleep cycle and needed to be settled back down. 

And so I like to ask these questions because I know, like you said, how impactful this can be. And it shows up in all those different ways, physiologically, emotionally and mentally as well. 

DS: And I think what’s interesting too, which I had never really thought about it until our talk right now, is that if you have had a child, birthed a child, most women are not seeing their obstetrician until usually six weeks for the follow up.

MA: Yes. 

DS: So you’re seeing the parents way more routinely and regularly before they have ever seen their own doctor. So that must be a fascinating way to look at it. It is. 

MA: I mean, I have picked up a lot of postpartum mood disorders before even they go to an OB, right? And that’s just because of the nature of me seeing them so frequently and also just talking to the family, you know, and you asked me like how I can tell something’s up, now in terms of an anxiety thing, like if a mom especially is coming into my office and she seems to be hyper focused on various things, I’m going to use the example of, they have a graph or like a journal that they’re writing down all of the feeds and timing and they’re hyper focused. Well, you know, my baby fed this much, but this time did not feed and they’re perseverating over and over about the fact that the baby’s not gaining weight or the baby’s not, you know, eating as it used to.

I start to dig a little bit because I’m concerned there. I’m like, well, why aren’t we able to look at the big picture here? Because I’ve had anxiety. I’ve had postpartum anxiety. And I know as someone who’s experienced that when we start to get hyper focused and not be able to pull back, there’s something that may be going on there that we need to get help for, right? And I say that as someone who’s had the anxiety. I treat and talk to families because I know myself how it felt to be on that other side of having anxiety and depression postpartum with both of my children. And so now when I talk to families in my office, I’m very attuned to it. 

And it’s not a, judgmental thing. It’s more, I’m really concerned about you, because I want you to have the best postpartum experience and not just assume that this is just how it’s supposed to be. Because I think a lot of moms say, well, everyone struggles. Well, everyone’s sleep deprived. That is true, but not everyone should be fixated about the safety of their child over and over. Not everyone should be sleep deprived to the point that they’re losing weight or having poor dietary choices because they are, you know, so anxious and depressed. So, there is a fine line that we walk between mood disorders and sleep. 

DS: Oh yeah. 

MA: And I think you know that as well, and so it is a holistic approach to understanding what is going on.

DS: And we know too that if someone has had either a prior history of anxiety or depression, If they are sleep deprived, meaning they’re getting less than four to six hours a night once baby comes, there are a higher risk of developing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. 

So next thing I want to talk about with you are really strategies to help new parents get more sleep because you’re not going to be able to sleep. It’s a tough time because you can’t really sleep train or work with the baby. So it’s what can you do in that survival mode? 

And the initial part, my strategy that I always give parents is, why aren’t we talking about this before the baby even comes? Why is this not a discussion of how are we going to deal?

Yes, you can’t plan out everything that happens once the baby comes with how feedings go, all that stuff. But why aren’t we figuring out who can take certain shifts at night? How could we make that work if we have to solely breastfeed? Is there a way to have a significant other or a partner or someone help around those feedings with changing and things like that so that there’s a little bit of a plan to help try and protect a little bit of sleep?

Because that I think that piece is missing from a lot of the conversation. 

MA: Absolutely. I mean, we are human beings. We are meant to be connected. And that is very much true in that postpartum phase. And a lot of moms, especially in America, you know, we struggle with that when it is that we need those resources.

It is something so important. You know, I’m Indian American. My mom, when she had kids in California where I was born, everyone came to help, right? It was this whole cultural experience. And what did that help look like? It wasn’t necessarily help for the baby. It was help for things around the house. It was help to wash bottles. It was help to settle the baby down and change a diaper after my mom would breastfeed. You know, there were things that were happening there. 

You know, when we’re preparing to have a baby, I encourage everyone listening, not just to take the courses for baby, but take the courses and understanding of what you need.

So that goes down to, do you have a lactation consultant lined up if you want to breastfeed? Not everyone does. Do you have a mental health professional or resources and access to a mental health counselor if you were to need one, that’s number two. 

DS: I love this. 

MA: And number three is obviously your pediatrician and OB. And then who is your team? Are you going to have a partner that is going to help? I have an ER doctor husband who had to go back to work after two weeks after birth trauma. So I was hospitalized and he had to go back to work. Okay. And I’m saying this from personal experience, I couldn’t utilize my husband at nighttime because he had to go to work.

And so for your listeners, you have to know, it’s not only do you have a partner, it’s do you have a partner who can help you? Because the most loving partners may not be able to help you because of their jobs or because of their own sleep deprivation issues. My husband does not function well with less than seven hours of sleep, like you mentioned. He does not function well. He becomes more anxious and more depressed. So we had to utilize other resources. 

For us, it meant hiring help at nighttime when my husband was working. And that’s something that we looked at and said, hey, mom and dad, instead of buying us this or that, can you help support our funds to support some help?

So think about what you need. You know, we tend to buy the most expensive strollers and the most expensive gear for the baby, but why don’t we invest money or resources into your help? Who’s going to help you postpartum, who’s going to help you with meals, who’s going to help support you? And they may not be your partner, it may be either a family member, it may be someone you hire, but I really encourage you to look at your resources and who is going to be that support team.

DS: Right. And it could even be things like having someone or a friend making some meals to put in the freezer in advance. It doesn’t even have to be doing things actively in your house in that moment, right? 

MA: Yes. 

DS: I will never forget when I first had my kids, like one of my best friends came and just brought me food.

MA: Yeah. 

DS: And brought me snacks to keep in the room when I was trying to breastfeed. So like all that stuff was very, very helpful. So it really took some of that mental load off of me of thinking about all that stuff, which is part of the problem, I think too, when moms try to close their eyes just to rest, they’re thinking about the 8 million other things that they have to do.

So if some of those tasks are taken away, it will make it so much easier in the long run. 

MA: We talk about the mental load and I’m very open about this because my mom and dad were here until I was about seven weeks postpartum and then they left and I actually had really bad anxiety when they left and that’s when my postpartum anxiety started and a lot of it had to do with the fact that now that mental load of what was happening in the house and my mom was helping take care of was now gone. Because now it was on me. I didn’t have any other help. It was just me and my husband. And so the anxiety set in and all of that mood disorder started to kind of fester because I was now left alone, with these two children, you know? Now I had a second child and my husband was busy as an ER doctor. Yeah. And it’s a huge reality.

And so I think, like you said, the understanding that it’s not, it doesn’t have to be big things, but your friends and family won’t know what you need unless you ask them and tell them. Right? And I have a friend who’s having a baby in a few weeks and I said, hey look, I’m gonna drop off food and I’m going to take your older daughter and bring her back to my house for a playdate with Ryan so that you guys can get a break. 

You know, and she was like, she almost was crying and I’m like, thank you. And I’m like, I get it. I know how hard it is for now you and your husband to entertain your preschooler while you have a newborn. So I will bring her to the house. Let me know what she likes to eat. She can play with my son and I will take her off your hands so that you can focus for just eight hours of your day on your daughter, your new daughter, and your husband and maybe get some rest so that you’re not having to use your downtime to entertain a second child.

So these are all little things that we can do for our peers that like you said, it’s not big asks, it’s little things that mean a lot for again, that utilizing resources component. 

DS: What do you think you see regularly that listeners might be surprised to hear? Like, is there something that you see people trying to do or not doing?

MA: I think a lot of it is doing it on your own. I don’t know. I feel like I’m not in every situation to understand what resources does that person have, but I will see a new mom. I’m giving an example. And you know, she has this husband who’s with her. And I asked the mom, I’m like, well, how are you incorporating dad?

And it’s usually, I find this in a lot of my breastfeeding moms, that they feel that they have to do it all because the baby is attached to them, and I say, I get it. I understand, but how can dad help you in this situation? Maybe he can help with the diaper changes. Maybe he can help settle the baby down.

Well, no, the baby won’t settle down unless it’s me on the breast. I’m like, well, why don’t we teach some ways? That we can settle baby down because if that’s important to you, then I want to help you. And that’s where it comes down to, that. I think I’m going to use this term and there’s a lot of controversy around it. Mothers think that they have to be martyrs postpartum, that they have to do everything and that, oh my gosh, if I don’t do it, then my baby’s not going to thrive. But I want to change that narrative and say, you can be a very loving attached mother and Have time for yourself and also breastfeed and also formula feed and utilize your resources. But it also comes down to what is it that you want?

DS: Yeah. 

MA: And that’s why that’s the first question I ask all of my families when it comes to sleep. I say what is it that you want? What is your goal? Do you want to sleep through the night eventually? Do you want to have your baby sleeping with you? What is it that you want? 

And number two, what are you comfortable doing? Are you comfortable giving the baby a few minutes to pause before you respond? Are you comfortable giving the baby a little longer? What are you comfortable doing after we chat about this so I can have a better idea of where we’re gonna go, you know, because a lot of my strategies take that into consideration, that it’s not going to work for everyone if a mom is like, no, I can’t let my baby cry for 30 seconds. It’s just not something I can do. I’m going to explain. Well, let’s see what the baby does. Here’s what we can do. All the baby’s crying. You know, let’s see if they’re moving through a sleep cycle before we respond. But that is something that you have to have insight into for the listeners on what am I comfortable with postpartum and beyond.

DS: Now your experience with all this, like we were saying, isn’t just as a doctor, you’re the mom of two small kids yourself and with a husband who’s a New York doctor who works probably very crazy shifts, I’m guessing at various times. So can you tell us some of the ways that motherhood has impacted your own approach to pediatrics and what was that change like for you?

MA: Oh yeah, I think it’s so important to be open to more alternatives. So what motherhood has done for me is kind of It’s taken me out of pigeonholes of like it has to look like this and it has to look like this and this includes how we feed our babies. This includes sleep. 

I like to use the example that my son and daughter, although they’re in the same family, they’re very different sleepers, especially in the first three months my son I could easily settle him into a bassinet. Very minimal fuss. He took a pacifier. Easy! 

DS: Glorious. 

MA: My daughter needed a lot of contact before the transfer. You know, and I know a lot of your listeners may hear that, is that she needed the rock down. She needed to be into that deep sleep cycle before I could even attempt a transfer into the bassinet. Otherwise, it would be like the moment her head touched the bassinet, all hell would break loose. So I want to recognize that every child is different, even within the same family, based on temperament. So it’s really important to be open to alternatives.

I say that because, you know, this is a sleep podcast that you may hear, well, you know, my baby has to be sleep trained a certain way, or maybe my baby has to do this a certain way. I think it’s so important to read all of the options out there to know, well, this isn’t working for my kid. Maybe I’m going to try a more conservative approach, or maybe I’m going to try a more rip the band aid off approach, you know, because that may work better for my child.

So that is something that I learned over the past four years of being a mom is I have to be open to things. I have to be open to pivoting. So my biggest tip for so many listeners is that when you start to be open to pivoting and parenting and saying, hmm, this isn’t working or this isn’t working for me, then you’re more likely to open yourself up to possibility rather than feeling like trapped that, oh, this has to look a certain way. I’m supposed to do this. I’m supposed to feel this way. And then that’s how we can actually get to a better place for us. 

DS: I would agree. I think for me, flexibility is what it’s taught me. 

MA: Yes. 

DS: You can’t have one way to only do things. You have to be flexible with it. So yeah, I appreciate that a lot. 

So we like to end each episode with a segment that we call Something to Sleep On. It’s one final piece of advice for anyone ready to change their sleep habits. So for our parents out there trying to maybe scrounge up sleep as they can. Do you have one parting piece of advice, something to sleep on, shall we say? 

MA: Absolutely. I think one of the biggest things is you have to remember your goal in terms of, you know, talking about sleep. So what is it that you want for your goal and finding the people and resources to help you reach that goal? So if it’s that you want more stretch of a sleep, right? Maybe you want a longer stretch. Understand normal child development, but understand maybe I’m gonna get that support and figure out what works best for my family.

You know in America, we don’t get trained on co sleeping, but I’m very understanding that every person makes a choice, right? So, I’m saying this is maybe that looks like room sharing. Maybe that looks like bed sharing. Maybe that looks like sleep training. Maybe that looks like moving your baby out right from the beginning because it gets you better sleep because that is a reality.

We have to look at sleep, especially in the postpartum and beyond. How can we best serve everyone in this relationship? So we tend to focus only on the baby. But if this is not serving your sleep, I want people to know that there’s solutions out there. That you don’t have to suffer. That you can maybe get some resources. And there’s so many out there. So that you can meet the goal, but you have to know what that goal is in the first place. 

DS: And to add to that, which I loved, you said, get your care team, your team together in advance. We always think about, we always think about the gear, all that stuff for when the baby’s going to come before the baby comes, but we don’t actually think about what things that are going to support us so much. So I love that, like, getting a therapist potentially lined up, getting that pediatrician, getting all these things. We always think about the pediatrician, but we don’t think about the other stuff. So I love that piece of advice that fits into what you were saying. 

Again, thank you so much for being here, Dr. Mona. This is really such an important topic. And I really feel like the tips and the advice that you shared is going to help a lot of sleep deprived parents out there. 

MA: Yeah. I love all things sleep and what you’re doing here on this show. It’s so important and I’m feeling restful just talking to you. Who doesn’t love talking about sleep?

DS: Thanks for listening to Sleep Talking with Dr. Shelby, a Sleepopolis original podcast. Remember, if you’re not routinely getting a great night’s sleep, follow or subscribe right now in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you are listening. 

Today’s episode was produced and edited by Freddie Beckley. Our Director of Content is Alanna Nuñez. Our Senior Editor is Molly Stout, and I’m Dr. Shelby Harris. Until next time, sleep well.