"Being a freshly-minted parent takes a huge toll on energy levels, so be proactive and protect yourself against the zap – with these tips from health experts.
We asked our naturopaths for effective solutions to help with improving energy levels, specifically targeted to new mums and dads.
• Keep up a hobby or two. If you don’t have a hobby, find some time to start one – even 1 hour per week. It’s important not to lose sight of yourself, your own passions and interests over the years of caring for young ones
• As a family, now is not the time to striving for the highest income. All members of the family need to be involved in caring for each other, to support the mental health of your baby’s primary carer. The more you are able to emotionally look after each other during these early years, the happier you’ll be as your family grows
• Don’t expect your new life with a baby to be the same as your life BC (before children). It may be, but it could be quite different, depending on the needs of your new family member. Be open to change and be gentle with yourself
• Keep lights soft and low for late night/early morning feeds to make it easier to get back to sleep afterwards and to maintain the quieter mood of night-time. Keep eye contact to a loving minimum during those mid-night feeds
• Exercise. Even a 30 minute walk, taking in lots of fresh air, can help you (and the bub) to feel revived and give you some perspective on things
• Diet. It's essential to nourish yourself, your partner and the baby. Try to prepare as much as you can before the baby is born by making soups, casseroles and other foods which can be frozen. These can then be reheated as needed
• Caffeine. Whilst it may be tempting to consume caffeine-containing drinks (both hot and cold) when you are feeling tired, try to resist the temptation. In the short-term, these may boost your energy levels, yet in the long term, they will further stress your already-overworked adrenal glands. Opt for nice herbal teas instead like liquorice, ginger and citrus blends.Lost track of your caffeine intake? Take our quiz to find out how much caffeine you have during the day
• Make the most of quality time together. It really is a special time for parents and the new baby and should be valued. A positive approach may help to outweigh the fact that you are running on little sleep and not much energy
• If you are a TV addict, get a DVD recorder so you don't have to stay up for the 9:30pm shows. You can watch them during the 4am feed instead
• Dads, take 3-4 weeks off work if possible. Resist going into provider mode and taking on too much work. Your partner would much rather have you home raising your child and will be much happier because of it
• Again for the dads, take a good multivitamin, as well as fish oils and adrenal tonics like Korean Ginseng to keep up your stamina
• Take it in turns (to nurse, feed if possible, change, bath etc.) – even when dad or the primary carer is working, as it's often just as exhausting being the primary carer or mum as it is working and this is often misunderstood.
• If breastfeeding, frequent snacks (healthy), liquids, supplements and rest are a must to keep your energy and health up.
• Take time off together to adjust to the new bub and get a routine established (that works for all) before returning to work and leaving one person to care for bub.
• Laugh and enjoy where possible as it can be an exhausting time for everyone.
• Rest – whenever the baby rests so should you (especially in the first few weeks)
• Get a house cleaner for the first three months (or get friends/family to help out).
• Always accept a helping hand and delegate wherever possible.
• Time out – being away from the bub is very helpful.
• Don't try to keep up with the Jones (or other mums/dads). All babies are different and we all cope in different ways.
• Be aware of the blues that can occur after birth.
• Don't be afraid to ask for help.
• Have fun – they grow up soooo quickly
• During a quiet moment plan your meals for the next weeks. It is much easier during a hectic afternoon to just look at what you are meant to cook rather than think about what you can cook! Shopping also becomes easier and cheaper with a list of meal specific foods
• Don't miss meals (this will only make it more difficult to cope), and watch blood sugar levels, too. When tired, try an energy shake made with almond milk (or soy or regular milk is okay too,) banana and honey. Calcium rich drinks will also help with breast feeding and milk production
• Keep hydrated or your milk may dry up, causing more stress
• Don't try to stick to any routine and/or ‘tough' training in the first six weeks – just go with your babies needs, remember they have been completely dependant on you for nine months and this will not change quickly. Surrender to their lifestyle if possible: sleeping, playing, drinking and eating at the same time
• Shop online!