Postnatal wellbeing

Postpartum | Wellbeing | | Louise Broadbridge

After giving birth to your little one, the first few weeks often fly by in a bit of a blur with little regard to how you are doing.

In those first few days, you may have experienced what is commonly known as “Baby Blues”. Unexpected feelings of anxiety, tearfulness and worry can often be felt from day 2 or 3 following your baby’s arrival, but should have subsided by around day 10. Don’t be surprised if a kind offer of a cup of tea can see you in floods of tears! Just go with it and remember you have just had a baby. A certain level of emotion is to be expected.

Baby blues or postnatal depression?

In these early days, your emotions are not the same as postnatal depression, which can leave Mums (and partners) feeling hopeless, sad and experiencing unjustified feelings of guilt and doubt regarding their parenting ability. Postnatal depression generally lasts for weeks, if not months, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe.

It is really important that if you are experiencing anything like this, that you tell your friends and family, so that they can offer you a little bit of extra TLC. If you find that these feeling are prolonged and aren’t showing any signs of going, chat to your midwife, who will be able to offer additional support. Postnatal depression or anxiety is not something you just “snap out of” but with the right support, these symptoms can be treated and most women make a full recovery.


Making sure that you are eating well and keeping hydrated will make a huge difference to both your physical and mental wellbeing. Allowing yourself to become dehydrated is known to lead to poor concentration, headaches, fatigue and increased anxiety. And while we know you already have plenty to think about, it's important to consider the quantity and quality of the foods and drinks you’re consuming to ensure you’re receiving all the energy and nutrients you need. Whether you are breastfeeding or not, you need a well-balanced, healthy diet to get you through the busy days ahead.

What does a healthy diet look like for new mums?

Well actually, it’s about the same as a healthy diet recommended for the rest of the population. There are plenty of places you can look for advice on this, but I can recommend the NHS website.

You might want to pay particular attention to the amount of dietary fibre you are consuming as this can really help if you have been affected by bowel issues or constipation after giving birth to your baby. And as always, make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding (which increases fluid requirements by about 700mls (3-4 glasses) per day).

If you are breastfeeding, should you be careful with any particular foods? What about extra energy and nutrients?

You don’t need to eat anything special when you’re breastfeeding, but it is a good idea to make sure you’re eating a range of healthy foods and getting all the nutrients you need to keep your energy up. Easier said than done, perhaps, when you are looking after a small baby!

Stay hydrated - It’s so important to keep hydrated while you’re breastfeeding, so always keep a drink handy. Water is your best option, but if you prefer something with a bit more flavour, why not try adding sliced fruit, mint leaves or cucumber to your water?

Vitamin D – Although eating a healthy balanced diet will help ensure you achieve your nutritional requirements; it is also recommended to take a daily Vitamin D supplement of 10mcg during autumn and winter. This is the recommendation for all adults and children over 4 years old.

For full advice on foods to limit and avoid whilst breastfeeding, including some fish and caffeine-containing drinks and foods, have a look here

Be kind to yourself

The most important thing you can do for your baby is to look after yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup!

You may be keen to get back to your regular exercise regime or be anxious about the state of the house, but all these things will be there waiting for you when the time is right. Take your recovery slowly, keep talking to your friends and family about how you feel, and have a chat to your GP or midwife if you feel your mood is really impacting your everyday life.