Whilst we know your priority is your newborn, it’s important to make sure you look after yourself too! Here are some tips for keeping your energy levels up and taking care of your own well-being, following the birth of your baby.
Try to go to bed at night soon after your baby is settled and, if possible, try to nap when your baby does during the day (or at least put your feet up and close your eyes). It’s completely normal to feel tired, so don’t feel guilty about resting, you’ve just given birth after all!
Ask friends and family to help, where possible
They could help with specific tasks, like running errands, doing household chores, cooking meals, looking after your other children, or caring for the baby while you lie down or rest for a while. Try not to do everything yourself and don’t feel guilty for accepting help.
Be selective about guests
Remember that it's perfectly fine to tell even your family or the best of friends that you're just too tired for a visit or an extended stay.
Try to make healthy food choices with foods that provide sustained energy, like those high in complex carbohydrates and protein. Don't rely on caffeine and sweets for a quick pick-up. Ensure you have a good breakfast every morning and eat little and often throughout the day to keep energy levels up. If you’re breast feeding you may find you need about 500 calories more than someone who is bottle feeding.
Drink plenty of fluids
It’s important not to become dehydrated as this can cause you to feel more tired and worn down without realising. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to keep yourself hydrated. This is particularly important when breastfeeding.
Continue taking supplements (if you wish) especially if you're breastfeeding, to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
When you feel ready to do so, get some exercise by taking your baby out for a walk – the fresh air and movement may help you both sleep better at night. Start out slowly and only go for a short distance at first. As you regain your strength, you can gradually step up your pace and distance.
For a lot of mothers, the excitement and pleasure of a new baby far outweigh any problems, but you can begin to feel low or rather depressed, especially if you are very tired or feel you cannot look after your baby in the way you would like to.
Giving birth is an emotional and tiring experience, and your hormones change dramatically in the first few days. Some women get the "baby blues" and feel weepy around three to five days after giving birth. Feeling like this can be worse if your labour was difficult, you are very tired, or you have other worries.
Some women worry if they don't feel an immediate bond or overwhelming sense of love for their baby. But it's not always love at first sight. You may just need to give yourself time to bond with your baby. You can still care for your baby and provide all the warmth and security he or she needs in the meantime.
Whilst many of these emotions are common after birth there is a condition called Post-natal depression which can be experienced a few weeks or months after birth and for some women, up to a year later. Even if you have initially bonded with your baby, post-natal depression can still occur.
If you are at all concerned that you are experiencing symptoms of post-natal depression speak to your midwife or doctor.