If you have recently given birth and always feel so tired that you think you don’t have enough energy to take care of your baby, don’t worry – you are not alone.
Postpartum fatigue, or PPF, is a condition that affects hundreds of new mums worldwide.
According to one study, the prevalence of this condition differs from one country to another. For instance, 82% of new mums in South Korea reported experiencing three months of postpartum fatigue.
On the other hand, 69% of mothers who gave birth in Australia experienced six to seven months of this postpartum condition.
But what is postpartum fatigue? Specialists from a maternity hospital explain that PPF is a physical and mental health condition that affects women who recently gave birth.
New mums can experience postpartum fatigue several days to a few months after giving birth.
Aside from feeling exhausted all the time, the following symptoms come with postpartum fatigue:
- Constant lack of energy
- Difficulties concentrating
- Lack of mental clarity
- Difficulties sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sad, irritable, and anxious
- Frequent crying.
PPF can also reduce a new mum’s interest and ability to engage in their regular activities.
What Causes Postpartum Fatigue?
Various factors contribute to the onset and longevity of PPF.
The primary factors include the physical difficulties you went through during your labour and delivery and the number of hours of sleep you get every day.
If you had a difficult labour and delivery and never get enough quality sleep, you will likely feel exhausted all the time.
Your other activities at home can make you feel constantly drained. Taking care of your children and pets and doing some household chores can add to your fatigue.
Certain health issues can also cause PPF. These include anaemia, hypothyroidism, cardiomyopathy, severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and infections.
Sometimes, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS) are the primary reason behind your PPF. If you have intense mood swings and long crying spells and constantly feel worthless and overwhelmed, it is best to speak with your doctor to get professional help with both conditions.
How Can You Manage Postpartum Fatigue?
Whether you have been dealing with PPF for only a few weeks or several months, you don’t have to simply ride the wave and wait until it passes. Moreover, you don’t need to go through it alone.
Below are some of the best tips that can help you cope with your postpartum fatigue:
1. Get enough rest every day
Getting enough sleep every day is one of the best things you can do to fight your fatigue.
Unfortunately, this can pose a challenge when you have a baby since they usually have erratic sleep schedules.
To get enough sleep, try to get some shut-eye whenever your baby is asleep at night and whenever they are napping.
Also, try to go to bed earlier than usual so that you can get a few hours of extra sleep.
Lastly, ask your loved ones and friends for help. Take turns with your partner to bottle-feed your baby at night with formula or breast milk. Additionally, have them change your infant’s nappies and clothes in the morning so you can get some additional shut-eye.
When your family and friends visit you, ask them to look after your baby while you take a nap.
2. Eat right
Having a balanced diet and proper eating schedule can go a long way in helping you fight fatigue and stay energised as you take care of your baby.
Here are some tips for eating right after giving birth:
- Eat plenty of vegetables, including leafy greens, carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
- Include apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melon, citrus, and other fruits in your daily diet.
- Add oats, quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains to your meals and snacks.
- Eat lean or low-fat protein, such as turkey, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, and tofu.
- Consume more low-fat or fat-free dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
- Drink plenty of water and other healthier beverages, such as fresh fruit juices and herbal teas.
Additionally, continue taking your prenatal supplements until you feel you’re back to your old self or your doctor recommends another product.
3. Start getting some regular exercise
Engaging in some physical activities can help you manage your fatigue and give you energy to take care of your baby and go about your other tasks.
When you’re ready to begin working out, and your healthcare provider gives you the go signal, start small and slowly.
A simple but safe workout you can try is taking your baby for a stroll in a nearby park.
Try to do simple and safe exercises every day as well, such as kegel, pelvic tilt, and breathing exercises.
However, be careful about doing high-intensity core exercises after giving birth since these workouts can strain your weak abdominal and pelvic muscles and cause injuries.
If you are unsure if a particular exercise is safe or not, ask your doctor.
4. Limit your visitors
Although you want others to see your baby, entertaining visitors can zap your energy and make you feel tired. Because of this, limit the number of people who drop by your home.
Be open to family and friends who want to visit and help you look after your baby and do some household chores.
However, if you have to cook, wash dishes, and clean your home for your visitors, you might want to limit your invitation to these guests.
Doing these additional chores can cause you to feel more tired and lessen the time you can spend resting and taking care of yourself and your baby.
5. Ask for help
After giving birth, remember that you don’t have to go through the postpartum journey alone.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your partner, family, and friends whenever you feel overwhelmed and need help. Having someone do and sort your laundry, cook a meal or two, wash the dishes, and clean the living room allows you to save your energy, which you can use to take care of your baby.
If you and your partner can afford it, consider hiring someone to help with your household chores. Doing so gives you more free time to relax and bond with your baby.
If you can’t hire someone to help you, don’t feel bad about letting the housework go for a while. You don’t have to scrub the shower, clean the windows, or polish your furniture every week. You can ask your partner or anyone willing to take on these chores to do them instead.
Keep in mind that no one expects you to keep your home spotless after giving birth. As such, you shouldn’t feel pressured to clean and organise your space every day.
After giving birth, don’t forget to look after yourself as you take care of your baby. Moreover, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed.
These steps can help you deal with and overcome your postpartum fatigue and stay healthy as you take on the responsibilities of being a new mum.