Postpartum Fatigue & What Causes It
It is completely normal to feel tired as a mother of a newborn, especially if you have had a tiring pregnancy, with more than one child, or had a long labour.
What is Postpartum Fatigue?
Postpartum fatigue includes feelings of constant tiredness, burn out and feeling unfocused or demotivated. Fatigue is considered more severe than tiredness because it is not as easily relieved.
What Causes Postpartum Fatigue
- Pregnancy is Tiring
Carrying a baby for 9 months can be exhausting. As your baby continues to grow, their weight and nutrition consumption will take a toll on your body. The research found that mothers pass many important nutrients and vitamins, such as iron, zinc, vitamin B9, B12, DHA and amino acids to their growing baby through the placenta. Pregnant mothers’ brains are also known to shrink slightly during pregnancy, to support the baby’s growth.
- The Tolls Of Labour
You may need approximately six to eight weeks to recover from delivering your baby – that is the amount of time needed for your uterus to shrink to its pre-pregnancy size. However, not all mothers feel like their pre-pregnancy self again after six weeks. Childbirth is probably one of the most extreme activities for your body. Postpartum fatigue is a reminder for you to take care of yourself physically and mentally, as your body has gone through a huge change.
- Lack of Sleep
As a mother of a newborn, it is much harder to get a good night’s sleep because your baby keeps waking up throughout the night for feeding or diaper changing. Research done on mothers postpartum found that low satisfaction with sleep was the largest factor linked to postpartum fatigue. This finding is similar to other research done in Australia, where mothers who reported high levels of postpartum fatigue also reported poor sleep quality. This is understandably so, as humans rest and recover most during sleep, but how can you feel rested if your sleep quality is poor?
- Non-stop Childcare
It is part of your maternal instincts to attend to your newborn baby promptly when he or she fusses. However, this could be one of the causes contributing to your postpartum fatigue. If you are a first-time mother, you will need to acquire many new skills, such as breastfeeding and baby health management, on top of adapting to your role as a mother, which takes time. If you have more than one child, you also have to cope with taking care of the needs of your older child, while tending to your newborn. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, you will also burn an average of 500 calories a day, just by feeding your baby. Over time, your body may be overworked and you would feel burnout.
Being a mother is no easy task, and requires a long-term commitment for at least the next 18 years. That is why you need to take the time to rest and take care of yourself, to be the best version of yourself for your child. Do seek help from your partner, family or even hire a nanny, or take a break and spend some time alone doing something for yourself.