Tired? How to Know When it is More Than Just Fatigue

Tired? How to Know When it is More Than Just Fatigue


There is no doubt about it; the first few weeks with a new baby are tiring! In addition to recovering from birth, you have a new baby requiring 24 hour a day care.

It is normal to feel tired for several weeks after having a baby. Sometimes, however, an underlying medical issue can compound the fatigue.


Red flags:

  • Feeling excessively tired for more than 6 weeks after baby’s birth.
  • Fatigue prevents you from doing everyday activities.
  • Friends or family members notice your low energy level and voice their concern.


If you are experiencing one or more of these red flags, please consult your healthcare provider. The cause of your fatigue should be investigated.

New mom fatigue or more than just fatigue

Potential causes of excessive fatigue:


1.  Anemia

Losing a lot of blood during delivery can result in anemia or “low hemoglobin”. In addition to feeling exhausted, an anemic mom may feel overwhelmed, irritable, dizzy or unable to concentrate.

What helps?

  • Resting. It will take time to rebuild your hemoglobin.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins. The extra iron they contain will help to boost your hemoglobin. Iron is better absorbed when taken with a source of Vitamin C (e.g. orange juice). Caffeine interferes with iron absorption so avoid drinking tea or coffee within 1 hour of your vitamin pill.
  • Eating iron rich food. Great sources include:

            – Red meats

            – Egg yolks

            – Poultry

            – Dark green leafy vegetables

            – Iron enriched cereal

           –  Dried fruit (such as prunes and raisins)

            – Nuts

            – Beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans

           –  Liver

Note: If your hemoglobin level is quite low, your healthcare provider may suggest iron tablets.


2.  Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Excessive fatigue can be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Talk to your healthcare provider about having your thyroid level tested. An underactive thyroid can be treated with medication.


3.  Postpartum depression

Excessive fatigue can also be a symptom of postpartum depression. Learn more about the difference between normal new mom stress and postpartum depression in this excellent article by Katherine Stone.


If you or your loved ones are concerned about your level of fatigue, please talk to your healthcare provider. Early treatment will mean a quicker recovery and more energy to care for your new baby.



Other posts that may be helpful: 11 Ways to Cope with Sleep Deprivation and Nutrition Necessities for New Moms

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About the authors:

Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.

Photo courtesy of Flickr: RelaxingMusic



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