New moms and sleep

February 13, 2008 12:14:19 PM PST
Having trouble returning to your pre-pregnancy weight? Well, just two hours or more of sleep, each day, may be as important as diet and exercise. That's according to a new Kaiser Permanente study. Here to give us all the details was the lead researcher of the study, Dr. Erica Gunderson, and the director of woman's health, Dr. Tracy Flanigan.

Health Tips:
What moms with new babies at home can do to avoid postpartum weight gain:

  • Shift your focus to take better care of yourself, not just the baby
  • Exercise whenever you can, even if it's just a few brisk laps around the block with the baby stroller or energetic housework that burns calories.
  • Eat right by avoiding high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods
  • Nap when the baby naps
  • People want to help; ask for help from others to watch the baby so you can nap
  • Practice good "sleep hygiene" by relaxing your mind and body late at night: before bed, take a warm bath with lavender bath salts and drink hot herbal tea
  • Let the housework go: do the dishes, cleaning, washing and vacuuming when the baby is awake

Helpful Links:

Healthy beginnings newsletters:

After your baby is born:

Medical report from the American Journal of Epidemiology: Healthinfo.pdf

About Erica P. Gunderson, PhD:
Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, is an Investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. She is an epidemiologist studying obesity in women, and the long-term effects of pregnancy and lactation on women's health.

Before joining Kaiser Permanente's DOR, she spent 14 years developing statewide and local public health programs in high-risk perinatal care, providing clinical care in diabetes and pregnancy programs (Sweet Success), and carried out clinical research in preterm birth prevention and the nutritional management of gestational diabetes.

Dr. Gunderson did her postdoctoral training in the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley, and was a Scholar in the joint UCSF-DOR Program, Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women's Health (BIRWCH) from 2001 to 2002. She received the Warren Winkelstein Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and the Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Disease in Women's Health from the American Heart Association in 2003.

Dr. Gunderson's research interests include: the epidemiology and determinants of obesity in women, gestational weight gain and health behaviors related to postpartum weight retention and development of obesity, long-term effects of pregnancy and lactation on the future development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in women, pregnancy complications (i.e., gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related hypertension) and women's health, effects of pregnancy on the growth and health of adolescent girls, and nutrition therapy for gestational diabetes. Dr. Gunderson is also a mother.

Dr. Tracy Flanagan:
Dr. Flanagan is the Director of Women's Health for Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the Chair of OB/GYN Chiefs at KP Northern California. She's been a practicing OB/GYN for the last 22 years and is a mother of two. Prior to joining Kaiser she was the Medical Director of the San Francisco Health Plan and before that she was the Residency Director for the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at UCSF.