Beating Postpartum Fatigue & Exhaustion
5 key questions to consider when energy dips low.
Postpartum fatigue is a normal feeling during the postpartum year as your little one learns to adjust to a good sleeping and feeding routine. However, you don’t have to feel depleted and exhausted if you are proactive about good feeding and sleeping habits for yourself.
Here are five questions to ask yourself plus tips when you feel like your energy is dipping below normal to prevent hitting the wall with exhaustion.
1. How much sleep am I getting?
You’ve heard the expression “when baby sleeps, mama sleeps”. Take this wise idea to heart as much as you can because the postpartum body needs a lot of tender love and care. As baby’s sleep improves, a lot of women start doing more cleaning, working, exercising and catching up on social media. Since sleep disruptions for your baby will for sure last for a year, if not longer, allow yourself to take naps everyday and to get to bed on time so you can maximize your sleep.
Countless studies show that sleep is key for mental and physical wellbeing and mothers should not think they are an exception to this. If you find it difficult to sleep well, taking a magnesium supplement right before bed can really make a difference.
Read our article about foods that support good sleep.
2. How’s my java relationship?
It is easy to overdo coffee when you’re a mom entrenched in the postpartum year. You may push through the day not eating much yet drinking cold coffee. While coffee is delicious and caffeine can be an energy booster, overconsumption of coffee may displace key nutrients, affect digestion and absorption, leave you with an upset tummy, increase postpartum anxiety and affect good quality sleep in an already sleep-deprived phase of life.
Limiting coffee intake to 1-2 regular-size cups of coffee per day is a wise approach. My BIGGEST recommendation here is to slow down and smell the coffee (ha! you can smell the roses too). How we drink our coffee can be incredibly helpful in our approach to not overdoing it. I find that if you pour your coffee and give yourself a 15-min break from all mom duties and sip it mindfully or while enjoying a good book or newspaper article, drinking that cup will be sufficient to get your morning kick while adding rest and relaxation.
It can also be incredibly helpful to stock up on non-caffeinated options, especially important for the afternoon energy dip when it’s challenging not to give in to drinking more coffee. Instead, make a hearty snack high in protein like Greek yogurt with berries, or pita chips dipped in hummus, or nuts with a piece of fruit and tag a non-caffeinated beverage to it. Some ideas could be a warm cup of tea that is safe while nursing (such as nettle, chamomile, mother’s milk tea) or making a refreshing beverage (such as flavoured sparkling water or lemonade). A smoothie can sure both nourish and hydrate you and take the edge off needing an afternoon java fix.
3. Am I taking my prenatals?
For some reason moms in the postpartum phase forget to keep taking their prenatal multivitamins. Taking prenatal multivitamins after birth can help maintain normal iron and B12 levels, both of which can result in anemias and therefore excessive postpartum fatigue. B vitamins can be incredibly helpful in managing stress, and vitamin C and D in boosting immunity. By taking good care of yourself you will be able to care better for your baby, like the flight attendants always say, ‘make sure to put on your oxygen mask first and then proceed to help children or others.”
4. Am I sitting down when eating?
A baby’s routine can definitely overshadow mom’s needs. Something as simple as sitting down for meals can become impossible. However challenging motherhood is, it is important to continue giving yourself proper nourishment. Eating enough and consuming a wide variety of whole foods is critically important to keep postpartum fatigue at bay.
How we eat matters just as much though. If we are always running around not giving ourselves time to eat calmly then we will certainly end up exhausted. Try to sit down and have 3 balanced meals, rather than just snacking on the go. I find when we intentionally sit down to eat, we make healthier food choices. Being always on the go, requires convenience in food options and may leave us always reaching for more processed foods higher in salt and sugar.
Certainly snacks can be critical in ensuring we meet high postpartum demands, especially when breastfeeding. When including snacks, try to marry two food groups in order to have a more wholesome snack. When you are in fact on the run, making a hearty smoothie is life-saving, especially over skipping a meal which would leave us hitting a wall with exhaustion.
5. Am I doing something comforting for myself?
Postpartum fatigue can in fact be busted with a little more intentional rest. Shake the humdrum with exercise, meditation, bonding moments with your baby or fun dates with your partner or a loved one.
The idea is to feel alive and important in the amazing work you are doing as a mother. Delve into using essential oils, try a bubbly bath with a bubbly drink (flavoured sparkling water or champagne!) or carve in a few moments a day for a hobby or a thrilling novel.
Exhaustion can be simply about lack of self care; we need to rest well daily so we can serve all the more lovingly. It can be as simple as a few minutes a day curled up with a blanket, lifting up your feet while you sip that herbal tea!
For more resources and information about Postpartum Care, click here.
Looking for nutrition guidance for you or your little one?
At Health Stand Nutrition, our experienced Registered Dietitian team has worked collaboratively to develop the tools, systems, and resources to help guide you on your journey of what, when, and how much to eat for optimal health.
Daniela O’Brien is known for her contagious smile, warm approachability and collaborative approach to nutrition counselling for individuals and families. Her non-judgemental, calm demeaner mixed with confidence and clear direction is especially helpful when families are struggling with meal planning challenges, picky eating, health issues and complex eating disorders. Daniela specializes in Disordered Eating, Emotional Eating, Weight Concerns, Pre/Post-natal, Infant/Kids/Family Nutrition and offers services in both English and Spanish.