Feeling constantly tired is the biggest complaint of all new mothers and with good reason. New mothers are not only taking care of a baby in need of constant attention but are also recovering from nine months of being pregnant and the delivery of a baby. Their own bodies are trying to heal while they lack sleep and time to eat healthy. And if they have chosen to breastfeed their baby, then their body is also working to produce milk. It is amazing with all this going on that a woman can even function after having a baby. The good news is there are ways to battle this fatigue through diet and a few lifestyle changes.
Before writing off tiredness to being a new mom, think about your physical health. Did you have an easy pregnancy or a difficult one? Did your own health suffer from the pregnancy? Talk to your doctor first to make sure you are not anemic, have a thyroid condition or any other condition that may be making you tired. Many women experience post-partum depression which can also make you feel run down and fatigued. Rule out any important medical conditions first so you do not continue to suffer from fatigue when you don’t have to.
Even though you are very busy with the new baby, you should not skip breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast helps keep your blood sugar stable, your energy level strong and your brain function high. British researchers at Cardiff University also found that eating a healthy breakfast helps to keep the stress hormone, cortisol, low which in turn helps keep your weight down. Skip the doughnuts or pastries and eat foods with real energy like oatmeal, raisin bran, whole wheat toast or a bagel. Add a piece of fruit, like a banana, strawberries or blueberries, or a cup of yogurt to keep your energy going. The combination of complex carbohydrates and fiber will keep your energy level at an even keel and help you feel more alert for a longer period of time.
It doesn’t cost any more to buy fruits, vegetable, lean meats, healthy cereals, low-fat milk and yogurt and nuts when you buy groceries than it does to buy fatty potato chips, processed lunch meats and cookies. Actually, the good foods may cost you less. So leave temptation back at the grocery store and stock your kitchen with healthy foods and snacks so you won’t be tempted to eat the foods that run you down.
You don’t have time to make three big meals a day anyway, so this should fit better into your new lifestyle. Eating healthy foods every three to four hours helps keep your blood sugar stable, energy level up and prevents you from grabbing unhealthy snacks all day long. Eat a small breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two to three small snacks in-between and your body will not feel as tired. Large meals take longer to digest and make you sleepy, but small meals give you the boost you need.
Sugary or high-fat snacks like candy, cookies and potato chips may give you a burst of energy for a time but after the high wears off you feel even more tired than you did before you ate it. Energize your body with snacks made of good fats like almonds, peanuts or walnuts, or with a handful of raisins, a piece of fruit, a cup of yogurt or a healthy protein bar. These types of snacks will stay with you longer and keep you more focused during the day.
If you are home with the baby then do take a nap while the baby naps. Forget about the laundry or cleaning for now and sleep instead. You need sleep to heal your body as well as maintain your energy and awareness, so sleep whenever you can. At night, make yourself go to bed after the baby is asleep so you will also get a few hours of sleep before the nighttime feedings begin. The television, computer or texting friends can wait; you need to refresh your body and mind with as much sleep as you can manage.
Whether you breast or bottle feed, your husband can get up with the baby at least once during the night so you can sleep. You can express milk with a breast pump and store it in the refrigerator before you go to bed or prepare the formula ahead of time. Getting the extra one or two hours of sleep will make a world of difference.
Women are the worst when it comes to asking for help but no one can really do everything all by themselves. Ask your sister, mother or best friend to come over and watch the baby for awhile so you can get some much needed sleep. It shouldn’t be too hard to get volunteers since everyone wants to be with the new baby anyway. Even a couple of hours sleep will make a big difference in how you feel.
Instead of stressing about all the things you should be doing and about all the sleep you are missing, just take care of yourself and enjoy your newborn baby. Soon enough the baby will be sleeping through the night and you will be busy with home, work and family. Even though you may be tired now, you will look back at the first few weeks of your baby’s life as a special time for both of you. So eat well, sleep when you can and enjoy your baby.