Managing Your Energy After Childbirth

  • Give your partner a list of daily responsibilities and leave him to do them at his pace and in the way he wishes to. Babies have an amazing capacity to adapt -- and to express dissatisfaction. Rather than criticize, encourage the baby's father to think about how happy he makes you when he helps you.
  • Don't assign yourself more than two tasks a day beyond those required in looking after the baby. Face each problem one step at a time. Your self-esteem will grow with each small solution.
  • Keep at least one room in your home tidy and looking nice. You can go there when your spirits need a lift.
  • If exhaustion threatens, get help! Ask your partner, mother or hire someone (a student for example) to come for part of the night or every other night to feed your baby expressed milk, so that you can sleep at least six hours in a row. Although it is not advisable to skip a night feeding when nursing, an exhausted mother's urgent priority is to overcome her sleep deprivation.
  • Go to bed very early. When trying to make up for lost sleep, it's better to go to bed early rather than plan to sleep late.
  • As soon as the baby is sleeping, drop everything and have a nap! Babies usually sleep longest after their bath and a feeding. Take advantage of this time slot.
  • Organize your night feeds ahead of time. If you are breastfeeding and have the baby in bed with you or in a bassinet right by your bed, you can nurse while lying down. Just anticipate what you might need in the middle of the night (glass of water, snack, clean diaper, wipes, plastic bag for the dirty diaper). If the baby is in another room, prepare a comfortable chair with pillows and a blanket, along with a snack and drink for yourself. Set up a small lamp with a low-wattage bulb that you can leave on all night.
  • Don't forget to continue taking your pregnancy vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • During the postpartum period, the need for good nutrition is greater than at any other time in your life. Make sure that you have good dietary habits, avoid fats and sugars, but DO NOT DIET for the first three months after childbirth. At this stage, your body needs carbohydrates for all sorts of hormonal and metabolic reasons. Strict dieting within the first three months after childbirth will lead to fatigue and failure.
  • Try walking outdoors for an hour a day -- this has an amazing effect on your energy levels.
  • Recreation is almost as important as rest: schedule at least one fun activity each day. Plan ahead at least three occasions per month when you can go out alone with your partner or a friend. Try to organize activities with friends who also have young babies so that you can take turns watching the children.
  • If your fatigue persists despite all the above measures, check with your doctor for possible anemia, potassium deficiency or thyroid malfunction -- all causes of low energy.

Sylvia Brown wrote The Post-Pregnancy Handbook: The Only Book that Tells What the First Year After Childbirth is Really All About -- Physically, Emotionally, Sexually in response to her own frustration at the lack of comprehensive information for the mother in the weeks and months after childbirth.

Copyright © Sylvia Brown. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.