Healthy Mum, Healthy Bub
The science is in: So intertwined are the physical and mental health of mother and baby that the actions you take during pregnancy and after birth may have a direct impact on your bub’s overall well-being.
Sounds like a lot of responsibility, right? It most certainly is – but it really is as simple as looking after yourself and everything else will follow. Here’s why you should focus on healthy eating, getting enough sleep and making time for yourself – after all, healthy mum equals healthy bub!
Whether you’re an expecting mother or already have your little bundle of joy, it’s essential that you prioritise good nutrition.
Before bub arrives
In addition to plenty of the ‘staple’ healthy foods – fruit, veg and lots of water – it’s also key to supplement your diet with all the good stuff baby needs to develop.
A growing foetus needs a hefty punch of protein and calcium, and bumping up your dairy intake is a great way to get both into your system. Fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acid is also a top pick (think salmon, which is also a natural source of vitamin D).
Don’t forget those fantastic leafy greens like spinach, broccoli and kale – packed full of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins A, C and K, as well as iron and folate.
After bub has arrived
For mums who are breastfeeding, you’ll really need to up your food intake – and especially water! – to keep your supplies full and your body running in the best possible condition.
Breast milk is super-nutritious – and while that’s great news for bub, it means what’s left for you will be depleted unless you supplement your diet with nutrient-dense foods.
For the most part you’ll want to consume more calories than usual while breastfeeding. Make them worthy additions by eating lots of lean meats, fish, fruit and veg (remember those green leafy choices!), nuts and seeds, as well as eggs, whole grains, oats and potatoes.
Whether or not you’re breastfeeding, though, a healthy diet is critical. It will give you the right boost of energy to keep going (even after a long sleepless night), help balance your mental wellbeing, and allow you to build a stronger connection with bub.
You’ve probably heard that a baby that sleeps well is a happy baby. Well, the same is true for mums! While the first few weeks and months of bub’s life won’t be conducive to normal sleeping patterns, it’s still important to get as much rest as you can.
In the early days, when bub doesn’t really understand the difference between night and day, take advantage of whatever time they sleep to catch some shut-eye yourself. After a while, they will naturally start to fall into a pattern, depending on your persistence and bub’s stubbornness!
Every baby is different, and the number of sleeps they have (and for how long) will depend on their routine, their temperament, whether or not they have a full belly (or a fully nappy!) and a range of other factors. However, the norm is generally:
- Newborns: 16–20 hours of sleep per day, with feeds every 2–4 hours.
- 3–6 months: Between 10 and 18 hours is normal, with an average of 14 hours daily.
- 6–12 months: As above, the average is around 14 hours per day, but nap times will be stretched out and – with any luck – they’ll start properly sleeping through the night.
Setting aside time for yourself
Last but certainly not least: your mental health. This is just as important as your physical health – whether you’re expecting or looking after a newborn. Unfortunately, it’s still something of a taboo subject, even though we are peppered with stats like one in seven women who give birth in Australia experience postnatal depression, with many more experiencing some level of anxiety.
Worrying about the health of your baby while you’re pregnant, fretting over the impending labour or C-section, fears about whether you will be a good mother, concern over your milk supply and whether your newborn is getting the right level of care – these are all common issues women grapple with, so it’s important to get clarity and realise that you are not alone.
Maybe your partner could take bub for a few hours one day (even if it’s just to help you get an extra hour’s sleep). Or could the grandparents look after the little one overnight to allow you to just ‘get away’ for some me-time? Don’t be afraid to ask for help – parenthood is a long, at-times difficult road. Everyone needs a break now and again.
Making your day-to-day life easier
In addition to setting aside time for yourself, find ways to make your life easier. Do you have a friend or relative who is absolutely enamoured of your bub? Ask if they’d like to have weekly reading time to help you catch up on things.
Are you heading back to work and worried about lugging around a million bottles, wires and pumps just to ensure your supply doesn’t dry up? A stylish yet functional electric breast pump like the Pigeon GoMini can eliminate at least one stress from your day.
Or do you have burning questions about your baby’s sleep or eating habits that you’re just too embarrassed to ask your friends about? Call your state’s maternal and child nurse hotline to hear an experienced, supportive voice.
For more tips and advice, check out our other helpful blogs. You can also find exceptional products for breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, oral care and more at our online store.