Looking after mum

No matter how prepared you are before the birth of your baby, the demands of being a new mum is huge.  

Not only do you have to adjust to a new baby and routine, your body will be going through many emotional and physical changes as well.  

It is very normal to have a day or so of feeling tearful and overwhelmed on about day three after the birth (unfortunately just when you are likely to be discharged from hospital!) This is because of the hormonal changes after the birth and usually settles within a couple of days. If you stay low, tearful or very anxious, though, this could be a sign that you are developing post natal depression.

There will be days where you will feel overwhelmed, anxious, panicky , irritable or angry, tearful or sad, tired, unmotivated, and unable to concentrate or even sleep properly.  If they don’t last then you probably just need extra support and a good sleep, but if they occur most of the day, most days, then you should talk to your midwife or GP. If you don’t enjoy your baby, then that is a real warning sign that you might be experiencing postnatal depression – this is not a sign that you are weak, or a bad mother, it just means you have one of the most common complications of childbirth – postnatal depression – which can be easily treated so you and your family can get on with enjoying your new baby.

While third day blues are normal (80% of new mothers) and post natal depression and anxiety are really common (around 20-30% of Pacific mothers) there is a more serious condition related to hormone withdrawal called post partum psychosis. This usually starts between three days and three weeks after the birth and needs urgent treatment. Symptoms may include feeling full of energy, not needing to sleep, racing thoughts and unusual ideas. If you think this might be happening to you or your loved one, please contact a doctor or the Crisis Team immediately.  With the right support, you and your family will recover.

To read more about baby blues and post natal depression, click here. Alternatively, this video provides an insight into postnatal depression from a mother’s perspective and what she and her husband did to help overcome this.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important you get help as soon as possible.  This link will provide you with a list of helpful individuals and organisations within New Zealand.  Remember, it is ok to ask for help! 



A healthy and happy mother is a healthy and happy baby.  This means you need to:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep – have a nap during the day rather than do the housework first when baby sleeps
  • Accept any offers of help and support – families can be wonderful! Don’t let your pride in doing your own housework get in the way.
  • Eat well – plenty of protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, and lots of fluid – baby will get the goodies first if you are breastfeeding, so you need to have some left for you.
  • Talk with someone you trust - You will probably get a lot of different advice and may feel you have to listen to your mum or auntie, even if it goes against what the professionals tell you.  If you trust your sister or cousin talk to them and sort out what feels right for you. Try not to worry about not respecting your elders – you are showing respect to your child by looking after yourself as well as them.
  • Get out of the house – some gentle exercise such as walking with baby or even dancing with him if it’s wet or cold outside will help lift your spirits and burn off stress or frustration.
  • Connect with your baby – even very young infants will respond to gentle talking, singing and responsive eye contact, and when they smile it will warm your heart.



If you would like to discuss any issue or concerns with a nurse, you can call one of the following 24hr helplines:

   PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 if you have child health and parenting questions or queries.

For example, if you have questions about such issues as parenting, crying, sleeping, your child's growth, development, behaviour, immunisation, breastfeeding, nutrition, oral health, safety or want to know more about the Well Child / Tamariki Ora programme.

   Healthline on 0800 611 116 if you need advice about a child of any age who is unwell or hurt, or has any symptoms of sickness.  Healthline provides a full range of telephone triage and health advice for children (and adults).

Content provided by Dr Sara Weeks

Dr Sara Weeks is a psychiatrist specialising in perinatal conditions. She works in both the private and public sectors in New Zealand, and is Lead Clinician for Lotofale Pacific Island Mental Health Service with the Auckland District Health Board. She is also involved in research on postnatal depression in Pacific Island women, and teaches perinatal psychiatry for the post-graduate diploma in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Since 2011, Sara has been a member of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health, and she has previously been an executive member of the Australasian branch of the Marcé Society – an international society for the promotion of mental health in women and families in relation to childbearing.  Sara is also a mother of three and grandmother of one.