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Bump & Beyond | Baby Blues

Bump & Beyond | Baby Blues

Having a baby is a major life adjustment. You plan for months, set up a nursery, and read all you can to prepare yourself to meet your baby. You may go from feeling excited one minute and worried the next. Your changing mood is blamed on those pesky pregnancy hormones. In the media, birth is depicted to be this tough journey that leads to pure joy once you see your baby. Many moms expect that will be the case for them, but it’s actually normal to experience a wide range of emotions after giving birth.

However, this can be disappointing for some moms because they don’t feel the way they thought they would after delivering their baby. Hormone changes after birth can cause new moms to experience mood swings. You may not feel like yourself immediately after birth, and we call it “Baby Blues.” So what is it, and what are you supposed to do about it?

The March of Dimes estimates that four in every five new parents will experience “The Baby Blues.” It can onset two to three days after birth. That timing usually lines up with returning home from the hospital, which can cause families to feel overwhelmed. Females experience a sudden decrease in estrogen and progesterone after delivery – the culprit of the mood swings. Partners can also experience mood swings caused by changes in their hormones. In males, testosterone levels may decrease and estrogen levels may rise after their partner gives birth. Up to 10% of partners experience feelings sadness or depression after the birth of their baby.

Some symptoms you may experience of the baby blues include:

  • Loss of patience
  • Unprovoked crying
  • Feeling restless or anxious
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty resting or sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not “feeling like yourself”
  • Feelings of sadness

These things can make it difficult to care for and bond with your newborn.

So what do you do about it?

The good news about the baby blues is that it is temporary. These symptoms usually only last for a couple weeks. In the meantime, it’s important to take care of yourself. Before delivery, take time to talk to your partner about how you are feeling. Having open communication will make it easier for them to check in with you after delivery. Be patient with yourself. The first few weeks after delivery are not the time to establish a schedule with your baby. Make it your goal to focus on yourself and your baby. As long as you are meeting your newborn’s basic needs, you are doing a good job. There will be time for sleep and feeding schedules later. It is important for your recovery from birth to rest, so if possible, allow trusted friends and family to help you. It truly does take a village to raise a baby. Get as much sleep as you can; decreased sleep can make the mood swings harder to tolerate. Make time for your daily hygiene regimen; it’s good for your mental and physical health. Whether you are recovering from a vaginal delivery or a cesarean, good hygiene is important to prevent infection. Finally, make sure you eat and stay hydrated. You need energy to recover, and if you are breastfeeding, being hydrated goes a long way for breastmilk production.

For partners, it’s easy to feel lost during this time. It can be overwhelming not knowing how to help, but here are a few suggestions of ways you can help in the first few weeks as a support person:

  • If possible, take advantage of any work leave available to you so you can be present for your partner
  • Discuss your feelings with your partner to establish an open line of communication between the both of you
  • Discuss plans with your partner for after delivery such as whom you are comfortable visiting with when you get home and whom you are comfortable sharing information with
  • Help your partner maintain any boundaries you place about your newborn (for example, if you wish for visitors not kiss your baby, help enforce this rule)
  • Make sure your partner stays hydrated, especially if she is breastfeeding
  • Assist with housework (don’t feel like the house needs to be spotless – it just helps to not let it pile up)
  • Check in with your own feelings
  • Give your partner a lot of grace. It is normal for your partner to be distant and less affectionate during this time

If these feelings persist after a few weeks, please contact your physician, as this may be a sign of postpartum anxiety and depression. Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety require treatment to get better and taking care of yourself is important. If at any point you are ever thinking about hurting yourself or your baby, call 911 or report to the emergency room. While these feelings are rare, they should not be ignored and require medical attention.

So, if you experience baby blues after delivery, know that you are not alone. Many moms feel like they need to hide how they are feeling, including me. After talking to other moms, I found that the way I was feeling wasn’t something to be ashamed of. If you ask other moms, they would agree that experiencing this is common. It is not something you can control, so don’t put pressure on yourself to feel “normal.” Take care of yourself because you are important. And soak in all of those happy newborn moments you can because they don’t stay little for long.

Extra resources:

March of Dimes

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Postpartum Support International

Crisis Text Line

American Pregnancy