Postpartum depression hits when at a time when a woman is most vulnerable. She has been pregnant and uncomfortable for months. Chances are she hasn't had a decent night's sleep in months. She's already logged in accumulated hours of trudging back and forth to the bathroom through the night when she should be asleep.
Her body is busy growing a baby, a process that devours energy at a voracious rate. This is a woman who is already worn out and worn down.
I remember during my first pregnancy reading a book that suggested having a nap whenever the baby napped. "Do this," it went on, "for the next five years." Whoa. This was going to be a really big deal.
It was bigger than I knew.
I was fortunate in that I didn't suffer from PPD. Even so, the first month of new-motherhood was exhausting. Yes, being a mom was wonderful. It was also the biggest balancing act I'd ever been confronted with.
For women struggling with postpartum depression the no-sleep equation takes a bad situation and makes it a lot worse. Insomnia is not the only cause for PPD. But it is one of the factors that makes life a misery for these new moms.
Labor is fully deserving of its name. The chore of giving birth is one of the hardest things a woman will ever do. Immediately after this gruelling experience, she is presented with her baby, whose needs are going to run roughshod over her own for the foreseeable future and beyond.
While her body is working hard to heal, it is also working hard to nourish and care for her new infant. Hopefully the child will sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. But, you never know. And let's face it, many don't.
If your baby is colicky you can kiss sleep at night goodbye, while your days are spent doing your best to take care of your distressed infant.
Dr. Christina Hibbert, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, says that it's essential to get five hours of uninterrupted sleep every day. Failing that for long stretches, physical and mental deterioration are just around the corner.
Is it any wonder so many women are faced with PPD? The only wonder is that more of us don't get hit with it.