You’ve had a baby, or you’re expecting; congratulations! You’re undergoing one of the most powerful experiences known to humanity, and bringing another life into this world is going to drastically change your perspective. The first six to eight weeks after a baby is delivered are recognized to be crucial to the lives of mothers and their children, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this time.

Sleep is essential for both the baby and the mother; babies’ sleeping schedules, however, differ greatly from those of adults. Infants are generally asleep for periods of about 3 hours at a time, though they may wake more frequently than that; when they wake, they often need food, changing and comfort. Your schedule may leave little time for much else, so try to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, and leave the baby’s crib near where you rest. Some studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases when co-sleeping, so try to have your baby sleep on a different surface.

You must stay as healthy as possible during this period; avoid doing any heavy lifting or other strenuous activity, and schedule doctor’s appointments for yourself regularly to make sure you’re in good shape. Sex should be avoided for at least 4 weeks after the baby is delivered. You should be especially cautious about sex and strenuous activity after a c-section; the recovery period is longer, and symptoms like continual bleeding, shortness of breath and sudden abdominal pains should be treated as emergencies; call your doctor immediately.

Diet is incredibly important for new mothers; between the necessary reduction in activity levels, and the unfortunate drop in sleep, food is the best way to restore energy. Eat small meals, chock with fruits, grains, leafy greens, and lean proteins. Fibre will help you stay regular; don’t be concerned with weight loss at this stage, as the most important thing is to keep your energy levels up.

Remember to take care of yourself; while you can’t engage in stressful activities, you can find the time to get a couple of minutes to yourself. Go outside and enjoy the sun, practice breathing exercises, meditate; do what you can to find and enjoy moments of silent serenity.

Ask for help. A new mother should be engaged in two activities: caring for the baby, and caring for herself. Friends and family will be more than happy to share the burden with you; create a list of activities they can do, so if someone calls to ask if they can help, you have tasks to give them. Hire a recognized home care service to help you take care of your home; a good home care service will be customizable to your needs. They can help you with meal preparation, grocery shopping, housekeeping, and other essentials that will keep your household moving, so you can focus on your bundle of joy. Relying on others is absolutely key at this stage; the old adage is that it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s true from the earliest days of your baby’s life.