Look after your mental health
It's important to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. About 1 in 10 women become depressed in the year after having a baby.
Learn about the symptoms of postnatal depression.
Doing some gentle exercise can help to boost your mood. Other things that may help are:
- making time to rest
- not trying to "do it all"
- accepting help with caring for your baby from friends, family or your partner
- seeing friends or going to postnatal groups – your midwife or health visitor can tell you what's available in your area
- talking to people about your feelings
If you're worried about how you're feeling, feel like you're struggling to cope, or think you may be depressed, it's important that you talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP. Effective help is available.
Healthy eating for new parents
Try to make eating well a priority. It will make you feel better, and healthy eating is important for the whole family. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
If you think you need to lose weight, there's lots of help available, including individual and group support. Your health visitor, midwife or GP should be able to give you more information about options near you.
If you join a weight-loss group, tell them that you have recently had a baby, and let them know if you're breastfeeding, so they can give you the right advice.
See the Change4Life's meal ideas.
Time-saving food tips for new parents
- Try cooking more than you need and freeze the extra portions for another day.
- Tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables are quick to prepare, and they count towards your 5 A Day.
- Choose vegetables that can be eaten raw, for example, carrots and celery, and snack on these between meals if you get hungry.
- Steaming is a healthy and quick way to cook vegetables and fish.
If friends or family are keen to help, take up their offer of a healthy home-cooked dinner once in a while.
Breastfeeding and your diet
If you're breastfeeding and you're a healthy weight for your height, you do not need to eat a special diet. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids – including water – and get enough rest.
If you're breastfeeding and you're overweight, the best way to lose weight is by eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular, moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk for 30 minutes each day. This will not affect the quality or quantity of your breast milk.
Read more about breastfeeding and diet, including which foods to avoid.
Stop smoking for you and your baby
The best thing you can do for you and your new baby's health is to stop smoking.
Children whose parents smoke are 3 times more likely to become smokers themselves.
Passive smoking is especially harmful for babies because their airways, lungs and immune system is not as well developed. Smoking has also been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS, or cot death).
You're up to 4 times more likely to stop smoking successfully if you do it with NHS support.
Call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044 for details of your local NHS stop smoking service, or go to the Smokefree website.
You can also talk to your health visitor about local stop smoking classes.
Get more advice and help with quitting smoking.