Caring for yourself and your baby (postnatal)

Sometimes, it’s not just your baby that needs taking care of in the early days. Here are some tips about how to take care of yourself after having a baby.

1. Sleep, sleep, sleep

Try to sleep when your baby sleeps. It can be difficult to get uninterrupted sleep when you have a newborn. Sleep when you can, even if it means napping in the day.

"It’s important for new mums to rest and heal after birth."

If you can’t sleep, rest in bed or put your feet up with a book or magazine, watch TV or ring a friend for support and reassurance.

2. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, relatives or neighbours. They will be delighted to meet your new baby and help you out. From making you a cuppa, to cooking a meal, washing up or holding your baby while you shower. Ask and you will find plenty of people happy to help.

3. Eat well and keep hydrated

It’s always a good idea to eat healthily but now so more than ever. Try to eat a variety of balanced meals including your recommended five a day of fruit and vegetables. It’s also important to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby.

4. Get a breath of fresh air

Go out for a short walk every day with your baby if you can. Being outdoors can help lift your mood. Even five minutes in a green space can have a positive impact on mental health (MIND, 2018). It’s amazing how fresh air can help when you’ve had a sleepless night.

5. Socialise

Making friends with other new parents in your local area for support and friendship can be really helpful in the early days. See what NCT activities are happening near you or join an NCT Early Days course.

6. Gentle exercise

Getting some light exercise in the early days is good for you too. Walking is a brilliant way to get out and about. Your local NCT group may have a walking group. It’s also important to exercise your pelvic floor muscles.

7. Be kind to yourself

Your baby’s arrival is bound to have an impact on your relationships with your partner, family and friends. Understanding how your relationships might change will help you to adjust confidently and happily to life with a new baby.

8. Be aware

Many new mums experience a mixture of feelings and emotions after they have given birth. It’s normal to feel emotional and upset in the first few days. Usually this passes within a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t this could be a sign of postnatal depression (PND).

It’s good to talk about how you are feeling to your GP or health visitor. Talking to friends and family is also good.

How to look after a newborn baby in those first few days (0 to 12 weeks).

Helping your baby to sleep

How to change your baby's nappy

Nappy rash

Reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Soothing a crying baby

Washing and bathing your baby

What you'll need for your baby