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New-Mom Energy Boosters

If you thought pregnancy was tiring, life with a newborn probably has you feeling pooped. Here, seven pick-me-ups to help keep you going.

1. Drink up
Dehydration can make you feel sluggish, so try to drink eight to twelve glasses of fluids a day. "Breastfeeding mothers produce about three-quarters to one quart of milk a day, so that's about how much extra liquid they need," says Cheryl Lovelady, Ph.D., R.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

2. Take a power nap
A 20-minute nap may not make up for the hours of sleep you're missing at night, but clocking short bouts of shut-eye can help you rest your eyes and recharge your brain, says Rebecca Huntley, author of The Sleep Book for Tired Parents.

3. Get your heart pumping
"The best energy booster we've found is regular aerobic exercise," says Lovelady, who recently headed up a study on postpartum weight loss. The program that new moms found most energizing included a five-minute warm-up walk, followed by five minutes of brisk walking at 60 percent of maximum heart rate (220 minus age), then a five-minute cooldown walk. Every day the moms added two more minutes of brisk walking until they had worked up to 45 minutes each day. Don't have a big chunk of time to devote to sweat? Buy a workout tape and break it up into 15-minute bits throughout the day.

4. Eat
You may feel too busy to eat a full meal, but the best way to keep blood sugar steady  -- and energy high  -- is to eat three square meals with a snack every two to three hours if you need it. Power-packed snacks include low-fat cheese with wheat crackers or a cup of yogurt with a banana. Eating too little can sap energy. And fatigue may interfere with the production of oxytocin, the hormone necessary for milk to let down, says Lovelady.

5. Breathe
Try this yoga breathing exercise to energize your mind: Close your right nostril with your thumb; inhale slowly through your left. Now close your left nostril with your ring finger and pinkie, open the right, and exhale slowly through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, close the right, then exhale through your left. Repeat 5 to 10 times.v
6. Supplement
After giving birth, be sure your body isn't low on essential nutrients, especially if you're breastfeeding. "I usually recommend that women continue to take their prenatal vitamin," says Glade Curtis, M.D., coauthor of Bouncing Back After Your Pregnancy.

7. Wind down
The flip side of invigorating yourself is knowing how to unwind so you can sleep soundly. Sip on a cup of warm milk or chamomile tea before bedtime, suggests Huntley: "The ritual itself can be just as helpful as the contents of the cup."

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