shutterstock 60648760Sleep tips and support from specially trained nurses are valued by new parents but do not help increase postpartum sleep for first-time moms or their babies.

According to a new study by Dr. Robyn Stremler, assistant professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, participants who received the sleep intervention program, including in-hospital sessions and telephone support, and those who did not recorded the same amount of postpartum sleep. This study, published online in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), studied sleep patterns of 246 new moms in Ontario and their infants at six and 12 weeks old.

“Moms are always looking for solutions to get more sleep for themselves and their babies and the idea behind this program was to incorporate delivery of strategies to promote sleep into postpartum care,” says Stremler. “Postpartum sleep is complex and these findings suggest that first-time moms have so much to learn with their baby in the first few weeks that fostering maternal and infant sleep patterns may be difficult to do. Health care practitioners want to provide effective interventions to help parents reduce sleep deprivation and fatigue and this study takes us in the right direction.”

Key Highlights
• First large-scale trial aimed at improving both maternal and infant sleep to use actigraphy;
• Participants reported using many of the suggested strategies to improve sleep and they enjoyed receiving the information from the sleep intervention nurses;
• Moms in the sleep intervention group, who received the additional nursing support, and the usual care group both averaged 6.5 hours of nighttime sleep;
• Delivering sleep interventions at the early postpartum stage in-hospital and in the first weeks at home is ineffective in improving maternal and infant sleep, so interventions may be better targeted after the first few months postpartum; and
• There was no effect of the sleep intervention program on maternal depressive symptoms, fatigue, or breastfeeding rates.