Looking after yourself - after birth

Having a baby is one of the most stressful situations that a woman can put her body through, so it is perfectly normal to feel tired, emotional and not at your best in the early days following delivery. Once at home and fully responsible for your baby, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and that every second of the day should be spent caring for your baby. You are not a bad mother for wanting some time to yourself, you deserve it and so does your baby as a relaxed and rested mother is just what they need.

The period after giving birth, until your body returns to its pre-pregnant condition, is called postpartum and lasts for six-eight weeks and it can be a very emotional and difficult time for many new mothers. Your hormones are changing and you are getting used to the life-changing event of becoming a mother. Nutrition and rest are extremely important especially if you are breastfeeding as you need to fuel your body to feed your baby.
Looking after yourself is a very important part of motherhood and should not be ignored. You may think this is easier said than done when it seems like there is an endless list of things to be done in the day, from feeding and changing to settling your baby for a sleep.

If possible, try to work out a routine for you as well as your baby, make sure you use the times when they are sleeping for some relaxation. Even if this is for just a few minutes, you will feel the benefit once this mounts up. Sleep deprivation can lead to mental exhaustion that is not good at all for your baby. If possible, try to ensure you have a strong support network of friends and family so that in those first few weeks of motherhood you do not have any other responsibilities other than caring for your child.

Weight gain can be an upsetting or frustrating part of having your baby but with gentle exercise and the right diet you can overcome this hurdle. For those mothers who choose to breastfeed, the weight loss will be quicker and easier as creating milk uses a lot of energy. As you may be very tired at times, try not to give up eating proper meals as nutrition is a key part of recovering from the stresses and strains of childbirth and pregnancy. If it is more convenient, eat small but healthy meals whenever you have the time and feel hungry.
A good way of incorporating exercise into your daily routine is to join a mother and baby group which may go out on walks, go swimming or do some other activity. This contact with the outside world and, more importantly, with other mothers will vastly improve your wellbeing, as you are able to discuss issues and problems with other people who are experiencing the same things as you. There are plenty of these groups running in the community and your health visitor or midwife should be able to advise you on where to go.

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