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Health and wellbeing

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Pregnancy is a good time to think about your own health and that of your baby. It is common to experience different emotions and concerns but taking some time to think about your health and wellbeing and to prepare for your babies arrival can really help. These pages provide information on what to do in an emergency and we recommend you and those who will be caring for your baby take some time to read them.

New Baby, New Feelings

Pregnancy and the period after childbirth are significant times of change in a person’s life. It is common for women and their partners to experience many different emotions during this time. You can access our New Baby, New Feelings resources here.

Other helpful information can be found on these sites.

Nurturing yourself

Nurturing yourself or self-care are important for all parents but particularly when you have a new baby. It can be helpful to remember that looking after yourself is not selfish or indulgent but an important part of how we stay physically, emotionally and mentally healthy so we can look after our children.

For practical ideas for looking after yourself see the below section.

You can find tips from the Anna Freud centre for Self-care in your baby’s first months here.

Other helpful resources from the Anna Freud centre can be found here:

Information on Young Children at Home during the COVID-19 Outbreak: The importance of Self-Care is available from Zero-Three.

You can find helpful videos for new parents on The BBC Tiny Happy People website.

Looking After Yourself

Having a baby is supposed to be a happy and exciting time but the reality is sometimes different and not what was expected. Adjusting to motherhood involves sudden and huge changes in your life as you get used to a new set of challenges that a baby brings. These include physical, psychological and emotional changes which if not acknowledged can lead to  increasing tiredness and feelings of being overwhelmed, which, unchecked, may reduce the joys of early motherhood. To try and prevent this happening something that needs to be prioritised is self-care - how to look after yourself during this time of transition in your life.

Here are some things that you can do to help maintain well-being:

Rest as much as you can especially during the first few weeks after birth. Tiredness is known to have a negative effect on mood and chronic tiredness can lead to low mood. Prioritise rest over non-baby related tasks such as housework and non-essential tasks.

Eat well and regularly: low blood sugar also has a negative effect on mood. Try to eat as healthily as possible and avoid junk foods.

Be kind to your self: you should not try to be superwoman. Start recognising your daily accomplishments, no matter how small you think they are. Remind yourself that you are new to this role and your baby is also adjusting to their new surroundings so don’t blame yourself when you have difficult days and things are not going so well.

Accept practical offers of help.

Exercise is known to have a good effect on mental health. Try to take baby for a walk with sling or pram every day and enjoy the fresh air and connect with what is around you. Exercise is good for your fitness and can boost self-esteem. Think about returning to whatever exercise you normally enjoy or start something new e.g. yoga, pilates, running, swimming (as long as you have had your post-natal check with your GP

Talk to friends and family. Avoid becoming isolated by making contact with other mums whenever possible, this will help you to establish a support network, share experiences and gain information about local facilities.

Nurture yourself on a regular basis! Simple activities such as having a bath by candlelight, using nice body lotions, doing your hair differently, painting nails, reading a magazine, enjoying a favourite food, listening to music on your own, putting on makeup, wearing different clothes etc. will help you feel good about yourself.

Baby-free time: if the opportunity comes up, take it and don’t feel guilty. You could do something simple like trying one of the self-nurturing ideas already mentioned or try practising relaxation or get creative e.g. mindfulness colouring for adults, knitting or craft activity, playing an instrument, singing or cooking-think what activities you normally enjoy and give it a go!

Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to bottle up difficult feelings, if you can talk to your partner or those closest to you it will help them to understand, remember that it is okay not to feel okay, do talk to a health professional such as your Health Visitor or GP who can then support you and help you to access specialist help if needed.

Staying healthy while you are pregnant is really important for keeping you and your baby well. We’ve found some helpful resources to support you during your pregnancy.

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On the First Steps Nutrition pages you can find information and advice on eating well in pregnancy.

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When you are pregnant or have a baby under 1 year old you are eligible for free NHS dental treatment.

Thinking about your baby being hurt or becoming unwell is likely to feel scary but taking the time now to look at this information about what to do in an emergency could help you look after your baby if they ever need it. We also recommend you get anyone else who will be caring for your baby to look at them too. 

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First Aid apps:

First Aid resources:

These resources are for advice only - accessing them does not make you a qualified first aider. 

You can find out more about first aid training here St Johns Ambulance and British Red Cross.

Below you can find helpful resources from the NHS regarding caring for your baby when they are unwell and the Lullaby Trust’s Baby Check App which helps you check your baby’s symptoms and know whether you need to see a doctor or health professional.

If you are concerned and want to speak to a health professional you can contact your health visitor, practice nurse, GP and Pharmacist. For out of hours advice call 111 and in an emergency call 999.‚Äč

Developed by Imperial College London NHSTrust this booklet provides advice for parents and carers of children under five years old. You will find information on how to manage common childhood illnesses including coughs, fever and rashes. How to help your unwell child booklet.

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Sepsis is life threatening. It can be hard to spot and there are lots of possible symptoms. 

Some people are more likely to get an infection that could lead to sepsis, including:

  • Babies under 1, particularly if they're born early (premature) or their mother had an infection while pregnant
  • Women who have just given birth

To find out more about Sepsis and how to spot the symptoms go to:

If you think you or someone you look after has symptoms of sepsis, call 999 or go to A&E. Trust your instincts.

The Department of Health recommends that pregnant women and children ages 6 months to 5 years are take vitamin supplements. It’s also recommended that babies who are being breastfed are given a daily vitamin D supplement from birth, whether or not you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin D yourself.

Families who are entitled to Healthy Start can receive free vitamin drops.

Your health visiting team can provide more information on vitamins.

You can learn more about vitamins and breastfeeding from the UNICEF Baby Friendly website. 

Infant crying

ICON have developed a resource on Infant crying and how to cope, this includes information on infant crying and ways you can soothe your baby. Their leaflet can be found here.

Sleep and your baby 

Sleep can be one of the biggest concerns for parents and with every baby having different sleep patterns it can be hard to know what to expect.

You can find out about normal sleep for babies and young children on the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families website:

For information on how, why and where babies sleep as well as what the research says about sleep training and things to consider.

BASIS - information on how babies sleep
BASIS - where babies sleep
Lullaby Trust video: safer co-sleeping 

Positive parenting

On the NSPCC's Positive Parenting resource you can find information on managing your child's needs and positive parenting advice for all ages from babies to teenagers.

Coronavirus

Read the World Health Organisation resource on Pregnancy, childbirth and Covid-19.

Find advice for parents of babies on Coronvirus from these NHS Start4life resources.

Topics include:

  • Information for parents of newborn babies
  • Infant feeding
  • Staying active with a baby during isolation
  • Your mental health
  • Safety at home

NHS Coronavirus: Parent information for newborn babies

Top Tips

The Instutute of Health Visiting having developed a selection of resources for parents which can be found here.

Topics include:

  • Moving from pregnancy to the first few weeks
  • Breastfeeding
  • Mental Health
  • Healthy Weight, Healthy Nutrition
  • Minor Illness and Reducing Accidents
  • Health and Development of your toddler

Maternity leave and returning to work after having a baby

These resources can be helpful when planning your maternity leave and returning to work. They include information on your rights and what you can do to prepare for returning to work.

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