Phew, you did it. And congratulations are most certainly in order. You deserve to put your feet up, close your eyes and recoup those last nine months in style. That little bundle of joy in the corner? They might just have other ideas…
For so many mothers, the excitement and pleasure of a new baby means that they often forget to rest and recuperate after what is an incredibly draining time. The danger is that new mums can burn out and be susceptible to low mood, and at times, postnatal depression if they don’t take the time to look after themselves as well as the new addition to the family. With that in mind, and with the help of Lil – Lets, retailers of maternity pads, here are 7 IDEAL tips for keeping your energy levels up following the birth of your baby.
Gherkins dipped in Nutella? Check. Peanut butter on eggs? Yes, please. Chilli ice cream? Mine’s a double. Sure, those pregnancy cravings can take weird and unexpected turns but after the birth of your baby, it’s vital that you diet right to keep yourself feeling sharp, sprightly and able for the little one.
Try to make healthy food choices with foods that provide sustained energy, like those high in complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potato, squash) and protein. Don’t rely on caffeine and sweets for a quick pick-me-up as the crash will simply be postponed rather than prevented. Ensure you have a good breakfast every morning and eat little and often throughout the day to keep energy levels up and consistent. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need around 500 calories more than someone who is bottle feeding.
NAP TIME SYNERGY
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, but by synergising your sleeping habits with the little one – at least in the first few months – you’ll establish an extra level of understanding between the two of you. You will have more time to take a nap while your baby is in a deep sleep.
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS
It’s certainly not an admission of defeat (rather a show of strength) to enlist friends and family to help out in the early days. They could help with specific tasks, like running errands, doing household chores, cooking meals and looking after your other children, or actually caring for the new baby when while you lie down or rest a while. Try not to do everything yourself and certainly don’t feel guilty for accepting help. It’s wiser to delegate than run yourself into the ground.
BE SELECTIVE WITH GUESTS
Though that help of loved ones is welcome, it can sometimes be exhausting to be constantly receiving guests when you’re trying to kick back and bond with your baby. Remember that it’s perfectly fine to pull up the drawbridge and tell even your family or the best of friends that you’re just too tired for a visit or an extended stay. Learn to say no.
It’s important not to become dehydrated during the early days of new motherhood as this can cause you to feel more tired and worn out without really realising why. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to keep yourself properly hydrated; particularly important when breastfeeding. We’ve written some handy tips about how to include more water in your diet here; check it out!
Your body has undergone massive change and your diet has likely been pretty erratic of late. Make sure, then, to continue taking supplements (if you wish) especially if you’re breastfeeding, to ensure your body is getting all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Standard prenatal supplements tend to contain more iron than is necessary for new mothers breastfeeding. A daily multivitamin supplement that contains 100% of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is ideal. As always, check with your GP for best practice advice.
When you feel ready to do so (and don’t rush), embrace a little light exercise by taking your baby out for a walk – the fresh air and movement may help you both sleep better at night, too. 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. You may well find those moments of calm together in the park feel particularly precious.