Take Care of Yourself
Here are some ways to take care of your mental and emotional health as you welcome a new baby.
- Get rest. The first few days at home after having your baby are a time for rest and recovery—physically and emotionally. It’s good to focus your energy on yourself and on getting to know your new baby. You, your family, and friends may be very excited to spend time together, but there will be plenty of time for that. In the early days, try to limit visitors and get as much rest as possible. It’s perfectly normal if all you can do is eat, sleep, and care for your baby. Learn to pace yourself from the first day that you arrive back home. Try to lie down or nap while the baby naps.
- Keep breastfeeding! Nursing releases a hormone called prolactin that helps you relax. Breastfeeding also strengthens the bond between you and your baby.
- Talk to someone. Talking to your partner or a trusted friend or family member can be a powerful release that helps you feel better.
- Connect with other moms. Find a moms’ group in your neighborhood or online. These groups give you the chance to share with others who are going through similar experiences.
- Accept help and do less. Don’t be afraid to ask others to help with the baby and household chores so you can take care of yourself, too. If chores don’t get done, that’s okay too. Time spent caring for yourself and your baby is more important than a perfect house.
- Pay attention to your feelings. Acknowledge how you’re feeling and spend some extra time on yourself.
- Go outside. Sunshine and a change of scenery can help brighten your mood. Many people with depression have reported feeling better after bright-light therapy.
- Get some exercise. Regular exercise is good for your mind and body. It also increases your energy level and helps you feel like your old self faster.
- Do something you enjoy. Take a few minutes each day to do something you enjoy, whether it’s chatting with a friend, listening to music, or watching a favorite show.
- Be realistic. Don’t worry about being perfect. Just do what you can and leave the rest!
Prenatal Depression and Anxiety
You may feel like you’re the only person in the world who feels depressed or anxious during pregnancy or after your baby is born, but you are not alone. 1 out of 8 women experience postpartum depression after having a baby.
Depression or anxiety is not a sign of weakness or a sign that you are doing something wrong. It is a medical condition that can have long-term health effects, and it is not likely to go away on its own. But with treatment, there is hope. There are treatments available that can reduce the symptoms or make them go away completely, and that are safe for you and your baby while breastfeeding. Talk with your health-care provider about what treatment may be right for you.
Here’s How to Get Help
- Call 9-1-1 for immediate help.
- Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support—they talk about more than just suicide.
- Contact your healthcare provider or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find a health care provider in your area.
Need More Help?
Choosing to breastfeed is the natural way to feed your infant, but it can be challenging. If you need help, you can call the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 800-994-9662 or get help on-line at http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeedingExternal