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“I can’t stop thinking about my baby’s sleeping patterns”

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Advice Q & A with Melissa Hughes

Perinatal Psychotherapist

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The Q

I spend most of everyday day focused on my seven-month-old baby’s sleep patterns. I’m consumed with thoughts of how much, how little, and at what time she is sleeping. In fact her sleeping patterns are dictating my life. It mandates all decisions and planning, which ends up impacting everything. I’ve turned down many functions with family and friends so I can try to keep her schedule. My husband and I often fight about it, as he feels we need to ‘have a life’ and not let a baby totally control our lives. The other day a friend asked me how I was doing, and I answered by telling her how many sleeps Zara had that day. I fear I’m obsessed with my baby’s sleep. I don’t want to be, but don’t know how to stop.

The A

When we have a baby, our often well thought out, highly controlled and independent lives cease to exist for a time. In this new-found chaos it becomes almost imperative to try and control something. Often for parents sleep seems a good function to hone in on. The reasons for this feel logical: if I can get the baby to sleep then I can sleep, if I can sleep then I might feel better, if I feel better then I might start to like this whole thing a bit more and so on and so on.

The attempts to control sleep patterns and complete focus on this activity are a product of anxiety. The good news is that anxiety can be treated – often quite simply and, relatively, quickly with talk therapy and a few new techniques to alleviate the obsessive thinking. Sometimes too, talk therapy can be coupled with some anti-anxiety medication, which can be discussed with your GP.

Bottom line, Sleep Obsessed, you may not be too far away from an obsession free period with little Zara, and I would like to support you to find a good therapist to begin the work.

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Advice Q & A with Melissa Hughes. Ask Melissa a question.

Melissa is the Director of Baby and Beyond Parental Counselling. She specialises in prenatal and postnatal counselling: covering issues such as transition to parenting, successfully managing maternity leave, support through postnatal anxiety/depression, antenatal anxiety/depression and relationship issues. Melissa has lectured at Universities across Sydney and contributed as an expert in parenting and relationship articles as well as writing for magazines. Her work in group therapy for postnatal depression was recognised by the Centre for Leadership for Women in 2009 and she continues to facilitate groups on a weekly basis.

Website: http://www.babyandbeyond.net.au/

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