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date: 23 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sleep for parents in the first postpartum year is affected by nighttime care of and interactions with the infant. Women experience decreases in subjective sleep quality and increased nighttime awakenings. Limited research on fathers’ sleep in the postpartum suggests they too undergo changes in their sleep, but to a lesser degree. Decisions around infant feeding and sleep location, and parent cognitions related to infant sleep, have effects on parental sleep in the postpartum but more research is needed to elucidate these relationships. Much of the evidence that interventions to improve infant sleep result in improvements in parental sleep is limited by methodological problems, and evaluations of interventions aimed at improving parental sleep are few. This chapter examines what is known about the quality and quantity of sleep for parents in the postpartum and the factors that influence parental sleep. Parental interactions with the infant with effects on parental sleep are discussed, including feeding method, infant sleep location, responses to nighttime infant needs, and parent cognitions around sleep. Postpartum depression, decreased relationship satisfaction, and postpartum weight retention are explored as consequences of disturbed sleep. Finally, evidence of effectiveness of interventions to improve sleep for parents in the postpartum is summarized, and recommendations for future research are proposed.

Keywords: sleep, infant, maternal, paternal, breastfeeding, bed sharing, postpartum depression

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