New babies have endless needs and taking care of them can be a round-the-clock mission.
But, while it’s natural for baby to take centre stage, mum’s wellbeing should remain a top priority too.
‘After all the anticipation, the first few days can be a very emotional time when the baby finally arrives,’ says Dr Ann Hoskins, director for children and young people’s health and wellbeing at Public Health England.
‘There’s a lot to learn and do, but you’ll also be tired and your body will be recovering from the birth.
‘It’s easy to forget about yourself now that you have to focus your attention on your newborn baby, but remember that your own health and wellbeing is just as important – for you and your baby.’
The NHS’s Start4Life website has a special section for new parents, packed with advice (nhs.uk/start4life/Pages/healthy-pregnancy-baby-advice.aspx).
The body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy.
‘The obvious changes are the physical, like weight gain and deposition of fat around the bottom and abdomen, and changes to the abdominal wall,’ says Tony Boret, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
‘Some women may end up with some bladder dysfunction, ranging from urgency to incontinence, due to damage to the pelvic floor.’
Boret stresses that incontinence is rare. ‘In the vast majority of cases, with pelvic floor exercises, most are able to regain good bladder control,’ he adds.
Some women develop high blood pressure during pregnancy and this can occasionally be an ongoing problem.
‘Sometimes it will return to normal by itself, but some women may require medication,’ says Boret.
When it comes to looking after yourself, inside and out, exercise is crucial.
But don’t think in terms of ‘how fast can I get washboard abs like the celebs’. See it as a ticket to boosting health and happiness – and take it slowly.
Gentle exercise like walking and stretching is a wise choice.
Stress awareness is vital for new mums. ‘Most women are aware that their emotional feelings and bodies are linked and each affects the other,’ says Emma Cannon, fertility, pregnancy and health expert, and author of You And Your Bump (emmacannon.co.uk).
Cannon advises avoiding pressure to compare yourself with others and not being hard on yourself about whether or not you’re doing things ‘right’.