Taking Care of Yourself as a New Mother

In this Article

As you regain your strength after having a baby, it’s important to get plenty of nutrients from the foods you eat. So make smart choices from every food group. Keep taking your prenatal vitamin, too.

Your body can use the boost of nutrients, especially if you’re breastfeeding. A prenatal vitamin can also ensure that you’re getting enough folic acid, which is important throughout your childbearing years. Take your vitamin with juice or water, not milk — milk can block absorption of iron, which you need to prevent anemia.

Maternal Nutrition

  • Vitamin D is important for new moms and babies. If you're breastfeeding, you may need even more vitamin D. Check with your provider to see if you need to take vitamin D along with your prenatal vitamin.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Dark green, orange, and yellow vegetables are especially healthy choices.
  • Make the most of the grains you eat. Make sure they are whole grains. Examples include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. These have lots of healthy fiber and nutrients.
  • Choose heart-healthy proteins. Examples include beans, eggs, low-fat cheese, nut butters, skinless poultry, and lean red meats.
  • Go for non-fat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you’re breastfeeding, you need at least 4 servings of dairy each day.
  • Choose unsaturated fats and oils — and stay away from trans-fat. Read food labels to see what’s inside.

Physical Activity

Activity is good for you after pregnancy. However, it takes about four to six weeks for your body to heal after having a baby — so you shouldn’t overdo it. Follow these guidelines for balancing rest and activity.

Allow for rest periods during the day. Get as much sleep as you can. If you can arrange for help with older children or housework, take advantage of it.

Ease back into physical activity. Some activities you can start right away such as:

  • Walking
  • Kegel Exercises
  • Abdominal Tightening
  • Pelvic Tilt
  • Heel Slide

For more vigorous exercise, wait until you check with your doctor. Most women can start vigorous exercise about four to six weeks after a vaginal delivery (wait 8 to 12 weeks after a C-section delivery). Keep in mind that because of hormone changes, your joints and muscles will be vulnerable to injury for several months — so be careful about activities that can cause strains or sprains.

Pay attention to your body. If you have bleeding that becomes more red or heavy with activity (or that starts again after having stopped), talk to your doctor.

Keep in mind that during pregnancy and after delivery, women have a higher-than-normal risk for blood clots. If you’ve had a C-section or tubal ligation surgery, your risk is even higher. To help prevent blood clots and other serious complications, follow all of your care team’s advice about physical activity and other safety measures.


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