How to Cope With Postpartum Fatigue

13 Tips for Fighting Exhaustion After Having a Baby

Woman sleeping with her baby sleeping beside her
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Fatigue is a state of extreme tiredness or exhaustion. When you feel fatigued, you may also feel weak, weary, sleepy, or dizzy.

Postpartum fatigue is the exhaustion new mothers experience after having a baby. Many things can cause exhaustion. The most common reasons for postpartum fatigue are not getting enough sleep and having too much to do.

13 Tips for Fighting Exhaustion After Having a Baby

Some amount of sleep deprivation is normal for all new moms, but extreme fatigue can impair your judgment and make it more difficult—or even dangerous—to care for your child.

Exhaustion can also get in the way of successful breastfeeding. It may make you feel like giving up on breastfeeding and also lead to a low breast milk supply and mastitis (a breast infection).

It's so important to try to prevent fatigue right from the start. Here are some tips for combating fatigue and boosting your energy after having a baby.

Get Rest

You've probably been told to nap when the baby naps. It's common advice because it is true. When you are in the newborn fatigue phase, rest as much as possible. Try to take a nap when your baby naps and head to bed as early as possible.

Get Comfortable

When it's time to feed your baby get as comfortable as you can. Sit with your feet up, or breastfeed in the side-lying or laid-back nursing position. Remember to use pillows or cushions to support your arms so you don't need to expend extra energy.

Ask For Help

You don't have to be Supermom. It's OK to ask for help. If you have other children to care for enlist the aid of friends and family nearby to watch the older children. If you are having trouble keeping up with the housework, ask your partner to help.

Accept Help

When someone says, "If you need anything, let me know," take them up on. It can be beneficial if you can give the specifics of how they can help. Some examples: a home-cooked meal, pick up diapers from the store, start a load of laundry, or just hold the baby while you shower.

Hire a Professional

If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to help with the housework. Make it clear in advance that you have a newborn at home and need help with both tidying and deep cleaning. Don't feel you need to pick up the house before the housekeeper comes. That is what you are paying them to do.

Let The Housework Go

If you don't have any help, let the housework go for a while if you are exhausted. You can catch up when you're feeling up to it.

It may help to remember the last stanza of Ruth Hulburt Hamilton's poem Song For a Fifth Child: "Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow, but children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow. So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep. I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep."

Limit Visitors

Everyone wants to come to see the baby, but when you are exhausted with a newborn, you might not have the energy for entertaining. Friends and family that can help out with the house or watch the baby while you nap are a treasure. But say no to visitors who you will need to cook for and care for in addition to everything else.

Eat Right

Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep your energy level up. You'll also need extra calories if you're breastfeeding, so include some high-protein snacks throughout the day.

Stay Hydrated

Get enough fluids and stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding. Try to limit caffeine, which can be dehydrating.

Take Vitamins

Once the baby comes, you should keep taking your prenatal vitamins until you feel back to your old self. This is especially true if you are breastfeeding.

Take a Walk

If your doctor says it's safe to start some light exercise, taking a short walk can help you fight fatigue. Exercise can help boost your energy level and your mood. Even just a short walk with the stroller out in the fresh air can feel good. But, don't overdo it and use up all your energy.

Try Brewer's Yeast

Brewer's yeast is a nutritional supplement is used to help fight fatigue and the baby blues. It is also believed to increase the supply of breast milk.

Remember: This Is Temporary

Try to remember that the newborn period doesn't last too long. As your baby gets older and begins to sleep for longer periods, you should be able to get more rest.  

When To Call Your Doctor

If you are finding it difficult to fight off fatigue, and you continue to have no energy even with good nutrition and rest, it's time to contact the doctor. Your doctor can examine you to determine if something else is causing your symptoms. Other causes of fatigue include: 

A Word from Verywell

As a new mom, it's only natural to feel tired in the postpartum period. Healing from childbirth, taking care of a newborn, producing breast milk, and breastfeeding every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day and night, requires a lot of energy. Add taking care of a home, other children, and work responsibilities, and there's no question as to why you might become overwhelmed and exhausted. 

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with fatigue and boost your energy. It's OK to ask for help and take some time for yourself. When you give yourself permission to take care of yourself, eat right, and get enough rest, you'll feel refreshed, ready, and better able to take care of your newborn and your family.

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Article Sources
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Amir LH; and The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #4: Mastitis. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2014;9(5): 239-243. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.9984

  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD.  Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.