Tiredness is a constant state of being as soon as you become a parent and you often wonder, “Why am I always so tired?”.
It seems there’s never enough hours in a day to get things done, and everyone wants you to do stuff for them – the kids want you, the hubby/partner wants you, the boss wants you, the pets want you, your friends want you and Facebook wants you (or is that just me?).
Bills need to be paid, housework has to be done, meals need to be prepped and cooked, and the shopping won’t do itself – and heaven forbid, if you want any time to yourself! AND, somewhere you have to fit some quality sleep in there as well. OMG I am exhausted just thinking about it all!
Most mothers go through bouts of excessive tiredness where they are just plain worn out. New mothers in particular that are getting used to the routine of no sleep, not much to eat and the constant demands of a newborn are at risk of not only being constantly tired, but on the road to depression.
It is easy to judge other mothers and say that they are ‘handling it all perfectly’ and feeling down about the fact that you struggle yourself to get out of bed in the morning whilst other women seem to bounce from job to job 24 hours a day and still have time to smile, but you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Causes of Tiredness
Tiredness can have multiple causes, probably too many to list here, but the obvious ones us mums might experience are:
1. Lack of Sleep
D’errrr you say. No shit Sherlock. That’s how I got into this mess to begin with. Lack of sleep is an obvious one for mums – especially when you have a baby! And sometimes, there isn’t much you can do about it but to rest when you can. Rest doesn’t equal sleep, but it does help.
Tips: Try a nice warm bath with some nice bubbles and just closing your eyes for even 10 minutes. Short rests can have a significant beneficial effect on the constant tiredness of being a new mummy. Apart from that, see if you have relatives (your mum would be perfect if she lives close by) that can take your baby for a few hours so you can get some real shut eye!
2. Poor Diet
A poor diet usually goes hand in hand with being a new mum. But busy mums with school kids can easily fall into this trap. Just grabbing biscuits or cereal on the go isn’t enough for your body to sustain the amount of work it is doing on a daily basis.
Tips: Invest in some pre-made meals like light n’ easy or just microwave meals that include all the vegetables. If you have some of these on hand that you can just throw into the microwave, you are more likely to eat better, get those essential nutrients and less likely to snack on shit foods.
3. Lack of Exercise
I’m guilty of this – being too tired to exercise in the first place! But seriously, if you force yourself to even go for a short walk daily, you will find you feel so much better, less tired and will have better sleep quality.
Tips: If you can’t get out of the house, try walking around the house, doing an exercise video or hopping on the treadmill. Making your health your priority will go a long way in making you feel better. Plus exercise is a great way to fight depression – so put your walking/dancing shoes on and get busy!
4. Being Overweight
Being overweight is a catch-22 situation. You are tired from being so heavy, and heavy because you are tired. And habits are very hard to break.
Tips: Join an online forum where you can talk to other mums about getting started on a healthy diet and getting your body moving – your kids will thank you for it. Starting small will be good for you too, even as little as 10 minutes of exercise every day for a week, then 15 minutes the next week – is a great way to start. Track your progress on a graph and stick it on the fridge so you can see your progress. Offer yourself a reward when you lose, say 5kg (not food!). Things like a new pair of shoes when you reach a certain weight – and have the ‘treats’ spaced out evenly. It is a great way to start. Remember, 60% of us mums are overweight – let’s change that!
5. Hormonal Problems
Get your thyroid checked – pronto! It does affect weight, frame of mind and of course, tiredness.
Tip: It is a simple blood test. In fact getting a whole bloodwork done from your GP is a great idea to rule out any medical issues as to why you might be so tired!
6. Poor Immune System
Are you one of these people that are constantly sick? If you have a child at daycare – this could be you. And I’m afraid it usually lasts around six months. Six months of having a cold, flu, viruses etc, because your child will pick up every bug under the son from other kids. But once you get through that six months, it really does build up your immune system and you are less likely to pick up illnesses.
Tip: Again, this is something to get checked out with your GP.
7. You are Dehydrated
Two litres of water is really hard to get through every day. But if you are dehydrated, it can make your breath stink, you feel lethargic (ie tired), your skin is bad and you feel bloody terrible.
Tips: To solve this problem, try investing in a nice litre bottle that you can carry around with you every day – make sure you finish the first one by lunch time, and the last one before you go to bed! Easy… sorta….
Stress has a huge impact on how you are feeling. And seeing your brain uses up all that energy, it can leave your body with nothing.
Tips: The only thing you can do with stress is take care of yourself, eat right, drink loads of water, take a good vitamin or supplement and sort through it. Constant stress can lead to depression, so keep an eye on how you are feeling and don’t forget to tell someone about it!
My fatigue is worrying me. What should I do?
If you are at the point where you are at your wit’s end with tiredness and this constant fatigue is affecting your health, relationships and life in general, then it’s time to take some action. The first thing you need to do is see your GP – you need to have a check-up to find out what is causing the tiredness. The GP will want to ask you questions about your medical health history (including family health history), then do a physical exam plus some tests like a blood test or urine test. You may also be referred to a counsellor or other specialist depending on the possible cause of fatigue. After the GP visit, you can also consider seeing a naturopath.
7 Tips to Help Fight Fatigue:
Here’s a few tips to help get some of your energy back and eliminate some of the tiredness. (If there is a medical cause to your fatigue, these may help in conjunction with any treatment prescribed by your doctor.)
I know it can be easier said than done, but if you can get yourself more sleep then it’ll help. If you are a new mum, then forget the housework and nap whenever your baby naps. Go to bed early instead of sitting on the internet all night or watching TV – record your fave shows to watch them later! Rest, rest, rest!
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
If you can’t get all the housework done, leave it for later! Don’t stress about it! Just get done what you can and don’t run around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get the impossible done. Maybe set yourself a more realistic routine (including rest breaks) so you aren’t exhausting yourself.
3. Go on a health kick!
Cut down on fat and sugar and increase your intake of healthier foods like fruit and vege. Drink more water and less coffee and alcohol. Get a bit more exercise – even if it’s just a DVD workout or a walk. See a naturopath about some vitamin supplements. Go and have a massage or do some yoga.
4. Get out more!
Go and visit some friends or take the kids to a playground. Get out in the fresh air – it’s amazing what fresh air can do to rejuvenate the senses. Get out into the garden and plant a veggie patch. Do something to break the boredom!
5. Get Help!
If you are struggling to get through the day, or even struggling to get out of bed in the morning, you may be depressed. Ring Lifeline (131114) or head to the Beyond Blue website for more information. Think about getting yourself off to a counsellor.
List everything you do in your day-to-day life and see if there’s anything you can ask someone else to do (be it your partner, your kids, your friends or family) – there has to be someone around who can carry some of the burden so you aren’t doing so much. If the kids are stressing you out, see if someone can come and watch them while you go out for a while (or have a sleep!).
7. Just look after yourself!
If you are concerned about your symptoms please see a doctor or we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice.
*SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.