The Effect Being a New Mom Has on Your Sleep
Ten months ago, my wife Mollie and I were thrilled to discover that she was pregnant and we’d be welcoming our first child into the world. The two of us were living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in South Boston and I was a part-time blogger and freelance sportswriter. It was not the ideal situation for starting a family, so we made some changes. We bought a house in the suburbs and I started working at WHOOP.
In December, Mollie had the opportunity to meet my co-workers for the first time at our company holiday party. I knew she’d be great there–she has an amazing ability to engage anyone she meets in captivating conversation.
Midway through the evening, we found ourselves at a table with VP of Product Management, Joseph Gracia, and CEO, Will Ahmed. If Mollie was the least bit intimidated (I certainly was), she didn’t show it. Since she was five months pregnant, our future child was naturally a topic of conversation. Eventually the question was posed, “What if she wore a WHOOP Strap for the remainder of her pregnancy and during childbirth?”
The writer in me jumped at the idea, as did the data junkies at WHOOP. What could we learn from the experience? How high might her heart rate go while having a baby? What would her Strain look like compared to other activities WHOOP usually measures? And what would her Recovery be after giving birth?
With a little prodding, Mollie agreed to be our test subject. We outfitted her with a Strap and the story of the first WHOOP baby was officially underway.
On March 23, a week before her due date, Mollie’s WHOOP data was looking good:
Unfortunately when the big day came, not everything went exactly as planned. Our son Rogan didn’t want to come out and Mollie had an unexpected C-section. After spending the previous two nights in the hospital (Mollie in a bed and me in the fold-out chair next to it) with a constant flow of doctors and nurses in and out of the room at all hours, neither of us was very well Recovered–64% for me, and only 28% for Mollie. On what would be our first day as new parents, we certainly were not primed for peak performance as far as childcare goes.
Mollie’s heart rate at the time of Rogan’s birth, 10:19 am on March 26, was a very mellow and drug-induced 72 beats per minute. Per my own WHOOP data, I was surprisingly calm as well, with a heart rate of 65 bpm. The same can’t be said for earlier that morning though, when at 9:08 am I was awakened by a nurse handing me a set of hospital scrubs and saying “put these on, you’re going to have a baby now” (136 bpm). Mollie’s heart rate peaked shortly after at 9:48 am (126 bpm), when she broke the news to her mother just before going into surgery.
Things went smoothly from there and we stayed in the hospital for four more days as Mollie recovered from surgery and our son got acclimated to being a living and breathing human being. Between Rogan’s unawareness of night and day and total disregard for the standard sleeping patterns that usually accompany it, and the continuous flow of medical professionals constantly checking on both him and Mollie, her daily WHOOP Recoveries never rose above 50%.
On our first night out of the hospital, we were finally treated to some peace and quiet in our own home. However, we were also now solely responsible for the health and well being of our little nugget. While I can’t say for certain if Mollie actually sat up and watched him breath all night (since I managed to zonk out for 6 hours and 54 minutes), WHOOP never detected her sleeping.
It’s amazing what the human body can accomplish when it needs to. Out of sheer love and devotion for our son, Mollie functioned spectacularly as a new mother despite massive sleep deprivation for the next several days. Take a look at her data from the morning of Monday, April 3, when Rogan was eight days old:
With a new baby who wants to eat every two hours, it’s basically impossible for a breastfeeding mother to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time.
Even a full week after we left the hospital, very little had changed. Here’s Mollie’s Sleep from Thursday, April 6:
As the days went by, she was able to adapt. Sleeping for 1–2 hours at a time on several different occasions over the course of a 24-hour period (including a nap or two while the baby slept during daylight hours) may not be what our bodies are used to, but she made it work. And little by little, he began to sleep longer and longer each evening.
As we celebrate our first Mother’s Day as a family this weekend, everybody’s doing great. I’m happy to say that for the past few nights, Rogan had slept for 6–7 hours straight, allowing his mom to do the same for the first time in nearly two months–she’s definitely earned it:
However, despite the solid amount of rest pictured above (from Wednesday, May 10), Mollie still only managed 17 minutes of Deep Sleep:
I’m guessing it may be a while before her concern and adoration for our precious baby boy will allow her to truly get a good night’s sleep. Years from now when we tell him about the sacrifices his mother made for our family, we’ll have the data to prove it.
Originally published at https://thelocker.whoop.com/2017/05/12/the-effect-being-a-new-mom-has-on-your-sleep/ on May 12, 2017.