It helps not to expect too much from yourself or your relationship in the first 6-8 weeks after your baby is born. This is a time of transition, and the most important things are getting to know your child and ‘surviving’ sleep deprivation!
Looking after yourself: activity, food and rest
Three things make a world of difference to your energy levels and ability to look after your new baby:
- staying active
- eating healthy food
- getting as much rest as you can.
Regular exercise improves circulation, increases your overall metabolism, boosts the immune system and makes you feel good. A daily walk gets you out of the house and into the fresh air. A change of scenery can do wonders for your mood, or you can just jump around the house listening to your favourite music.
Eating well can be very difficult for busy parents. Have some simple food on hand, like fresh vegetables cut up ready to eat with dips, fruit, yoghurt and wholegrain bread.
If you’re breastfeeding, you need a lot of protein and nutrients, plus plenty of fluids.
When it comes to rest, there are three golden rules: sleep when your baby is sleeping, go to bed early, and nap whenever you can!
You can read more about healthy lifestyle choices for parents, healthy eating and exercise for parents and better sleep for parents.
Postnatal depression (PND) is a mood disorder that can affect women and men after they have a baby.
Symptoms of PND include sleep and appetite disturbance, crying, inability to cope with daily tasks, exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, fear of social contact or fear of being alone, feelings of guilt, loss of confidence, and negative and even suicidal thoughts. Some women sum it up by saying, ‘There is no joy in anything any more’.
It’s very important for you to recognise the signs and ask for help as soon as possible. You don’t have to cope by yourself. With proper diagnosis and treatment, help and support, people usually make a full recovery from PND.
You can learn more about postnatal depression.