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Beating fatigue as a new parent

When you’ve just had a baby, you can expect to feel tired. As you adjust to the physical and emotional demands of parenting, you’ll be sleeping less and doing more, so it’s normal to feel tired. However, if you feel tired all the time and even a good night’s sleep won’t take care of it, you may be experiencing the first signs of fatigue [1].

Fatigue can affect your concentration, your ability to make decisions [2] [3] [4] and the way you feel about yourself. As your self-worth gets rocked, so too can your confidence [1], so it’s important to look after yourself. Try these tips for beating tiredness and seek further help if you’re worried:

Eat little and often

Eat small meals and healthy snacks every three to four hours to keep your energy up [5]. Stay hydrated too – it might help to have a jug of water and top up your glass throughout the day.

Drink less alcohol

Alcohol impairs your ability to sleep deeply and may mean you wake up tired, even after sleeping through the night [5].

Cut out caffeine

Caffeine can stop you from falling asleep – try to cut caffeine out entirely, gradually over a few weeks and see what difference it makes to your energy levels [5].

Ask for help

Accept offers of practical support whenever you can. All those people who like saying “let me know if there’s anything I can do,” well, take them up on their offer and ask for a couple of meals for the freezer or a bit of help with cleaning the house. If possible, ask your partner to cover an extra night shift so you can concentrate on recovering some energy.

Prioritise your workload

You can’t do everything. Commit to focusing only on the essential things for a while [1]. Build in some rest and recovery time and put off anything that can wait until you’ve got some of your energy back.

Stay active

A bit of light exercise can boost your energy levels and help you sleep better. Yoga is particularly good as it encourages you to slow down and focus on yourself [6]. If you’re new to yoga and can’t get to a class, there are lots of free tutorials online. Try doing 20 minutes of focused stretches in the morning and see how it affects your energy and mood.

Sleep when you can

If you’ve managed to get the baby to sleep, take advantage of the opportunity to get into bed yourself and sleep until you need to wake up. If possible, take a nap of no more than 30 minutes during the afternoon to top up your sleep [6]. As a new parent, this is always going to be tough, but do what you can to get as much sleep as possible.

See your doctor

If you are worried, make an appointment with your doctor. Ruling out medical causes can take away a layer of worry and allow you to get back to a more restful state of mind [7]. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to talking therapy which is known to be helpful with fatigue [5].


[1] Cooklin, A. R., Giallo, R. and Rose, N. (2012). Parental fatigue and parenting practices during early childhood: an Australian community survey. Child: Care, Health and Development, 38: 654–664. 

[2] Hockey, G., Maule, A., Clough, P. & Bdzola, L. (2000). Effects of negative mood states on risk in everyday decision making. Cognition & Emotion, 14, 823–855.

[3] Torres-Harding, S. & Jason, L. (2005). What is fatigue? History and epidemiology. In: Fatigue as a Window to the Brain, Vol. 1 (ed. J. DeLuca), pp. 3–17. Bradford Book, Cambridge, MA, USA.

[4] Chee, M. W., Chuah, L. Y., Venkatraman, V., Chan, W. Y., Philip, P. & Dinges, D. F. (2006). Functional imaging of working memory following normal sleep and after 24 and 35 h of sleep deprivation: correlations of fronto-parietal activation with performance. NeuroImage, 31, 419–428.

[5] Self-help tips to fight fatigue (21 February, 2015). Retrieved from

[6] Jaret, P. (1 April, 2014). 9 Ways to Get Your Energy Back. Retrieved from

[7] Why lack of sleep is bad for your health (15 October, 2015). Retrieved from

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