New mom fatigue

You've welcomed your beautiful new baby to the world and have now brought him home. Having a new baby can be an exciting and joyous event. But it can also leave many new parents, moms especially, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some moms might feel that compared to the first few weeks of life with a newborn, childbirth was the easy part!

Between the endless feedings, sleepless nights and other responsibilities, many women feel really, really tired in the weeks after birth. You may find it hard to balance taking care of a new baby, yourself, your family and your home. Take comfort in knowing you're not alone. These feelings are normal. You can take steps to help you find more energy and overcome new mom fatigue.

Get plenty of rest

When there's a new baby in the home, sleep is on everyone's mind! Newborns sleep about 16 hours a day for 3 to 4 hours at a time. In the first few weeks of a baby's life, it can be hard, if not impossible, for mom to get a solid stretch of 6 to 8 hours sleep at night. Try these steps to help you get the rest you need.

  • Sleep when the baby sleeps, even if it's just for a quick nap. Turn off the phone and TV, close the shades, and try to get a few minutes of sleep whenever you can.
  • Place the baby in the baby's room. In the beginning, it might help to have your baby sleep in the same room as you. But if the baby's breathing, cooing or restlessness keeps you wake, try moving baby to her room so that you can get your sleep. Use a baby monitor to listen to the baby in her room.
  • Put off other household responsibilities (laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc.). Your main concern is taking care of yourself and your baby. This includes making time for sleep, even if it means cutting back on chores.
  • Limit visitors. Just because you have a new baby doesn't mean you're obligated to host and entertain guests. Limit visitors as best as you can so that you can get much needed rest.

Eat healthy and be active

Eating healthy foods and getting exercise can help you have energy and feel rested.

  • Eat healthy foods. Check out, an online tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It can help you plan a healthy meals based on your age, weight, height and physical activity. There's even a special section for breastfeeding moms.
  • Drink lots of water. Try not to overload on caffeine or sugar-packed beverages. The right foods and beverages can help give you more energy.
  • With your health care provider's OK, get active. Did you know that physical activity can actually give you more energy during the day? Take baby for a walk. Or do a few minutes of physical activity at home during baby's daytime naps.

Look to family, friends and others for help

As much as you may want to be "super mom," no woman can be everything to everyone. If someone offers to help, think about taking them up on it. Ask your partner, family and friends for help when you need it.

  • Share nighttime parenting jobs. Work with your partner to schedule feedings, diaper changes and other baby duties. If you're bottle feeding, have your partner take on more nighttime feedings. If you're breastfeeding, ask your partner to bring the baby to you and to burp the baby after he's been fed.
  • Ask guests to help out. When visitors come, ask them to help you with the dishes, do a load of laundry, or simply hold the baby while you take a shower.
  • Take advantage of babysitting offers. Instead of going out, stay in the comfort of your own home. Take a much needed nap while a trusted friend or family member takes care of the baby.
  • If you can afford it, hire some help. A neighborhood teen can do light chores. Think about hiring a baby nurse or doula during the first few weeks after pregnancy. (A doula is a professional who provides care and support to women during labor and in the postpartum period.)

Caring for a new baby can be a wonderful time in your life. When you're feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, remember that the newborn days won't last long. Soon, you'll be better able to manage your time and energy and enjoy these first precious moments in your child's life.

Last reviewed: December, 2013