Sometimes, it’s not just your baby that needs taking care of in the early days. Here are some tips about how to take care of yourself after having a baby.
1. Sleep, sleep, sleep
Try to sleep when your baby sleeps. It can be difficult to get uninterrupted sleep when you have a newborn. Sleep when you can, even if it means napping in the day.
"It’s important for new mums to rest and heal after birth."
If you can’t sleep, rest in bed or put your feet up with a book or magazine, watch TV or ring a friend for support and reassurance.
2. Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, relatives or neighbours (NCT, 2012). They will be delighted to meet your new baby and help you out. From making you a cuppa, to cooking a meal, washing up or holding your baby while you shower. Ask and you will find plenty of people happy to help.
3. Eat well and keep hydrated
It’s always a good idea to eat healthily but now so more than ever. Try to eat a variety of balanced meals including your recommended five a day of fruit and vegetables (NHS, 2016a, 2018). It’s also important to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby (NHS, 2016b).
4. Get a breath of fresh air
Go out for a short walk every day with your baby if you can. Being outdoors can help lift your mood (NHS, 2010). Even five minutes in a green space can have a positive impact on mental health (MIND, 2018). It’s amazing how fresh air can help when you’ve had a sleepless night.
Making friends with other new parents in your local area for support and friendship can be really helpful in the early days (NCT, 2012). See what NCT activities are happening near you or join an NCT Early Days course.
6. Gentle exercise
Getting some light exercise in the early days is good for you too (NHS, 2016c). Walking is a brilliant way to get out and about. Your local NCT group may have a walking group. It’s also important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles.
7. Be kind to yourself
Your baby’s arrival is bound to have an impact on your relationships with your partner, family and friends. Understanding how your relationships might change will help you to adjust confidently and happily to life with a new baby.
8. Be aware
Many new mums experience a mixture of feelings and emotions after they have given birth. It’s normal to feel emotional and upset in the first few days. Usually this passes within a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t this could be a sign of postnatal depression (PND) (NCT, 2012; MIND, 2016; NHS, 2016c).
It’s good to talk about how you are feeling to your GP or health visitor (WHO, 2008). Talking to friends and family is also good.
This page was last reviewed in June 2018.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
Emma’s Diary. (2018) How to organise your life as a new mum. Available from: http://www.emmasdiary.co.uk/lifestyle/family-life/family-matters/organising-your-life-as-a-new-mum
WHO. (2008) Improving maternal mental health. Available from: http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/Perinatal_depression_mmh_final.pdf
MIND. (2016) Understanding postnatal depression and perinatal mental health. Available from: https://www.mind.org.uk/media/4852718/understanding-postnatal-depression-2016.pdf
MIND. (2018) Nature and mental health. Available from: https://www.mind.org.uk/media/23671047/nature-and-mental-health-2018.pdf [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NCT. (2012) First days: Life with a new baby. Available from: https://www.nct.org.uk/sites/default/files/related_documents/First%20Days%20booklet_2.pdf [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NHS. (2010) 'Green exercise' and mental health. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/green-exercise-and-mental-health/ [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NHS. (2016a) Eat well. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/ [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NHS. (2016b) Breastfeeding and diet. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breastfeeding-diet/ [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NHS. (2016c) Postnatal depression. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/ [Accessed 5th June 2018].
NHS. (2018) 5 A Day: what counts? Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day-what-counts/ [Accessed 5th June 2018].