Good nutrition will help you produce all the energy you need to recover after the birth of your baby. Mums who choose to breastfeed will need between 300 and 500 extra calories per day, even if mums choose not to breastfeed energy is required for repair and renewal. Obtaining energy from unrefined foods, not sugary snacks, regularly throughout the day will help to stabilise blood sugarlevels and help to balance mood.
Energy levels are likely to be low in the weeks and months after birth, largely due to the reduction and disturbance in sleep. Sleep cycles are 90 minutes long for adults, and consist of four stages, N1, N2, N3 and REM. The stage just before we enter REM and start dreaming, is the deepest and most restorative sleep, blood supply to muscles increases, tissue growth and repair occurs, energy is restored and hormones are released. This is the section of the cycle we need in order to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Sleep cycles are guaranteed to be disturbed during the first few months after birth but it’s important to try to get as much of the restorative sleep as you can.
Going to bed early, asking your partner to do a night feed with some expressed milk, napping during the day, and having baby in a cot can all help promote better sleep. Eating smaller meals more regularly will help energy levels.
For breastfeeding mums caffeine and alcohol are best avoided or limited. Caffeine will pass to your baby through breast milk, limiting yourself to 1 mug of coffee or tea in the morning is probably fine - but remember to drink plenty of water as caffeine is dehydrating. It’s OK to have the occasional alcoholic drink but try to avoid breast feeding for at least 3 hours after drinking, or have some expressed milk ready. However, alcohol and caffeine will affect energy levels so it is best to limit them even if you are not breastfeeding - alcohol will induce fatigue and disturb sleep patterns, whilst caffeine gives the body a false sense of energy and an inevitable resultant crash once it runs out.