For many women, pregnancy and childbirth are often followed by a roller coaster of emotions. No matter how much you have looked forward to having a baby or how much you love your child, you might feel more tearful, overwhelmed, and emotionally fragile after childbirth.
There is a common belief that childbirth is a magical time for all mothers. As soon as the baby is born, maternal feelings and knowledge magically appear for each woman. But the fact is that most women struggle to balance their new responsibilities, timelines and expectations. This struggle will make you feel anxious, sad or frustrated. This short-term mood disorder that results after pregnancy is known as postpartum blues or baby blues.
Post-partum blues is one of the most common complications associated with pregnancy. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that post-partum blues affects up to one in seven women, or 15% of births.
This article will explain the possible causes for your feelings—and more importantly— how to manage it and find the help you need.
About the postpartum blues
Postpartum blues or baby blues is a mood disorder in women that can appear days or months following childbirth. Generally, this will start within the first couple of days after delivery and taper off by the end of the second week postpartum. The baby blues are perfectly normal, but if your symptoms get worse or last longer than two weeks, you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is long-lasting and it needs immediate medical attention.
The exact cause is not clear; experts believe postpartum blues are caused by a sudden drop in hormone levels that women experience after birth. Your body undergoes many hormonal changes during and after pregnancy. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, these hormone levels drop rapidly to the levels before being pregnant. These changes may lead to depression. Additionally, the stress and the physical changes after pregnancy plays an important role in postpartum blues.
Other factors that increase the risk of postpartum blues can include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Other pre-existing medical conditions
- Marital problems
- Lack of social or family support
- Pregnancy at a young age
- Low socioeconomic status
Postpartum blues symptoms
A woman experiencing postpartum blues may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Excessive worrying or feeling overly anxious
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Crying frequently, even about minor things
- Trouble with concentration and memory
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling empty or lonely
- Not being able to cope
- Difficulty making decisions
How to manage post-partum blues?
Postpartum blues is the mildest and most common form of postpartum depression. The best treatment for postpartum blues is to take plenty of rest combined with regular exercise, meals and water. Postpartum blues usually do not require medication or therapy.
There are several ways to care for yourself if you are having baby blues.
- Take care of yourself: One of the best things you can do to relieve or avoid postpartum baby blues is to take care of yourself. The more you care for your mental and physical well-being, the better you will feel. Take some time for yourself and get out of the house. Do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or some form of entertainment. Practicing meditation will help you be calm and more energized. You can also schedule sometime alone with your friends and dear ones.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices: Having a new baby may cause you not to eat correctly or exercise well. Include physical activity, such as a walk with your baby, and other forms of exercise in your daily routine that you enjoy. Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol. Most important thing is to do what you can to get plenty of rest.
- Make time for your partner: It is easy to lose track of your partner when a new person enters your life, but try to make time for just the two of you to help you reconnect. Spending 15 or 20 minutes together with your partner undistracted and focused on each other can make a big difference in your relationship.
- Lean on others for help and support: Try to open up to people close to you and let them know you need help. You can ask for parenting tips from your parents, which can include care giving techniques to improve your baby’s sleep, soothing your fussing and crying baby, etc. Also, try to connect with other new moms.
- Set realistic expectations: Do not expect to be a perfect mother in the first few weeks. Give yourself time to heal from childbirth, to adjust to your new routine and for feeding and sleeping routines to settle in.
- Avoid room isolation: Try to get out of your room and get some sunshine. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get exposed to sun for at least 10 to 15 minutes per day. You can also go for evening walks with your baby and partner.
Preventing the baby blues
Although it is difficult to predict which women will experience postpartum mood disturbance, it is possible to prevent the chances by the following methods:
- Screen for depression once during your pregnancy, if you have ever had major depression or another mood disorder.
- Get your support system in place before your baby is born.
- Maintain a healthy diet and try to get some exercise every day.
- Practice mindful meditation.
- Get counseling regarding breastfeeding and taking care of your baby.
- Take adequate amounts of omega-3- fatty acids such as DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) as they lower the risk of postpartum depression in new mothers.
- Keep the lines of communication open with loved ones.
Baby blues are common and the feelings you are experiencing are natural and valid. Postpartum blues may be different for different people. You may experience just a few of the symptoms, while some mothers may not have symptoms at all. Provided you are taking care of yourself following childbirth, your baby blues symptoms will disappear as quickly as they came.
However, if the symptoms persist even after 2 weeks or if your symptoms become severe at any point reach out to your healthcare provider right away.
- Baby Blues. https://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-71032 . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.
- Postpartom Depression. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.
- The Postpartum Psychiatric Disorders. https://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/postpartum-psychiatric-disorders/ . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.
- Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/postpartum-depression-and-the-baby-blues.htm . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.
- Baby blues after pregnancy. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/baby-blues-after-pregnancy.aspx . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.
- Postpartum blues. https://www.postpartumdepression.org/postpartum-depression/types/blues/ . Accessed on: 28-09-2020.