When I met our baby girl for the very first time it was pure euphoria. Her sweet face, that little cry; I could barely let the nurse take her in to be weighed. I was over the moon in love… except when, quite inexplicably, I wasn’t.
That’s when I said “hello” to baby blues and “goodbye” to what I considered to be my “normal” moods. Two and half days post baby, I felt like I had switched bodies with another mom next door. My mood, mindset, and body transformed from ecstatic, euphoric and round to weepy, confused and quite frankly, Jello-like. Thankfully, (after some research on my part), I found that my roller-coaster mood swings weren’t so much of an anomaly in the world of new motherhood. In fact, they were completely NORMAL.
“Having a baby is a huge change in your life,” says Dr. Laura Goetzl, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and OB-GYN at Temple University in Philadelphia. “It’s normal for people to have mostly happy emotions, but also mixed emotions” during the heady first weeks of motherhood.
Understanding that I wasn’t alone in these “hazy-sleep deprived” days was only half the battle. What were baby blues and what’s a new mom to do about them? Read on for some quick info that’s sure to help you through these first weeks of being a new mom!
Why You Might Experience a Case of the Blues:
In the days, weeks and months leading up to our daughter’s birth, I was so overjoyed about being pregnant, I hardly ever thought about NOT being pregnant. Like, ever again. Two days post-partum sent me into an emotional whirlwind that I wasn’t quite used to. Enter hours of no sleep, low blood sugar, general anxiety and zero time alone and you’ve got yourself a nice cocktail of “irrational” on a whole new level.
Thankfully, I quickly found out that I wasn’t as alone as I had thought. According to an article from fitpregnancy.com, 70% of women experience baby blues. This came as a bit of a shock considering no one I had ever known confided that they were anything but “overjoyed” after their new bundle came.
Another little tidbit of information that I found equally interesting: OBGYN doctors have already identified “baby blues” as a normal part of the postpartum transition.
What’s the potential cause?
Research posted from the Mayo Clinic and Mid-line OBGYN doctor group, suggest that intense hormonal changes post-delivery combined with the loss of sleep and other underlying factors present in a new mother’s life may contribute toward these emotional changes.
So what’s a woman to do in the days and weeks during post-partum when moods change faster than your newborn can wet her diaper? Below, we offer some quick pick-me-ups for chasing away those new baby blues.
How to Beat those Blues Away
Just as pregnancy, labor, and delivery fluctuate from mom to mom, post-partum emotions also vary across a certain spectrum. Not to be confused with Post-Partum Depression, (which we’ll discuss later), baby blues come at different times, in waves and without warning. Thank exhaustion, transition and the loss of time for yourself to blame as the culprits.
The Mayo Clinic does state that baby blues are typically gone after the first two weeks post-partum, so what’s a girl to do on this rollercoaster ride other than buckle up and pray you don’t fall out? Fortunately, there are many ways to help you defog those first few days and weeks of the postpartum-dull-drums. One thing to remember, though: one size does not fit all! So do what works best for you!
- Initiate and Invite Supportive Company (aka people you TRULY DON’T have to entertain)
This “company” should be on your terms and ONLY if they’re presence will actually help.
Take advice from Shelly, a new mom from Connecticut, who stated that one of her biggest mistakes was her post-baby company. “I invited people over so I wouldn’t feel so alone with my husband at work. I thought it was a great idea until I realized that I needed to put on my “entertaining shoes”. This entailed cleaning up before, during and after they were over to visit our son. I was already exhausted and weepy; the last thing I needed to do was clean!”
Think about people you don’t mind having over if you’re half-dressed and your house is in less than perfect order. In other words: select people who you feel totally comfortable around. Those early days after delivery are precious but can also be very challenging. Take it easy on yourself and let others help!
- Take Care of YOU
Ok I know this probably sounds like a “no-brainer” but trust me, when you’re fighting severe sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, sore nipples and a baby who can’t latch or take a bottle….the last thing on your mind is YOU. However, “YOU” must be back on the main menu if you’re going to take care of that beautiful bundle.
Try this: Make a deal with yourself that you will do at least one thing each day to take care of you…shower, take a nap when a kind visitor comes over, eat something, or catch up on that favorite novel you put down more than two months ago. Whatever defined who you were pre-baby; get back to embracing it little by little. Even if it’s just getting your hair wet. Think about this: small steps are big steps.
- Go Out—ALONE!
Giovanna from New York states that the best thing she did in the first weeks of being home was as simple as going outside for a few short walks each week. “I didn’t realize how much I needed to get outside of my house until I finally did it! I didn’t find leaving the house easy, (aka mom guilt), but once I got walking and felt that fresh air, it felt unbelievably refreshing. I found a spot to sit and read in the warm sunshine for thirty minutes and my mom got to bask in her new granddaughter. It was a win-win.”
Whether it’s going for a walk or driving to your favorite pedicure spot, get out and go girl… you deserve it!
- Embrace a Post-Baby Date Night
Make time for you and your partner to be together and make couple time a priority, says Goetzl. Going out alone with your partner will give you time to talk about your relationship, your feelings about your new or expanded parenting roles and, of course, focus on the most important aspect of your family—keeping you and your partner happy. Designating a post-baby date night is a great place to start but also try to be realistic. Just as you’re going through a range of emotions, your partner may be dealing with his or her own emotions as well. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your partner to make a date night happen. If sitters don’t come through, reimagine your date night during an hour or two that baby is asleep….cuddle by the fireplace or enjoy a meal alone together. Any time alone is better than no time at all! Reschedule that sitter and get creative with the time you have.
When Your Blues Might be Something More…
According to the Mayo clinic, baby blues typically last for a few days upwards to about two weeks post-partum. However, every woman experiences emotions differently and this length of Baby blues should not be confused with Post-Partum depression.
The Mayo Clinic warns that you should not wait to see your doctor if these symptoms arise:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.
Also just as important, you should call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Don’t fade after two weeks
- Are getting worse
- Make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Don’t wait until your six-week postpartum checkup to see your doctor if any of these symptoms present themselves. Your emotions are nothing to be embarrassed about and you do not need to feel “stuck” about feeling this way, either. Your doctors are only a phone call away! They are there to help you in any way that you need!
- Mom365, ‘How to Beat the Baby Blues’
- American Psychological Association, ‘Postpartum Depression’
- Mayo Clinic, ‘Symptoms and Conditions of Postpartum Depression.‘
- Mid-City OB-GYN, ‘Women’s Health.’
Let us know if you experiences any of these feelings and share with other new moms how you coped or what helped you get through it and back to feeling more yourself.
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash, Tim Bish.