Mood swings after the birth of a baby are not uncommon. While the “baby blues” are the least severe form of postpartum depression, it is important not to ignore the changes that are happening in your body. Many women feel confused about struggling with sadness after the joyous event of adding a new baby to the family and often don’t talk about it. But talking about these emotions, changes, and challenges is one of the best ways to cope with the “baby blues”.
How often do women experience the “baby blues?”
Approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child.
Often the symptoms of “baby blues” will hit forcefully within four to five days after the birth of the baby, although depending on how the birth of the baby went, they may be noticeable earlier.
Symptoms of “baby blues” include:
- Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
- Insomnia (even when the baby is sleeping)
- Mood changes
- Poor concentration
The exact cause of the “baby blues” is unknown at this time. It is thought to be related to the hormone changes that occur during pregnancy and again after a baby is born. These hormonal changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that result in depression.
Also, the amount of adjustment that comes after the birth of a baby, along with sleep disturbance, disruption of “routine”, and emotions from the childbirth experience itself can all contribute to how a new mom feels.
The symptoms of the “baby blues” normally occur for a few minutes up to a few hours each day. These symptoms should lessen and disappear within fourteen days after delivery.
Taking care of mom is the best way to decrease the symptoms of the “baby blues.” There are several different ways that you can care of yourself if you are having the “baby blues.”
- Talk with someone that you trust about how you are feeling.
- Maintain a well balanced diet. Having a new baby may cause you not to eat correctly, and too many simple carbohydrates can make mood swings more pronounced.
- Keep a journal of all your thoughts and feelings.
- Get outside to enjoy fresh air and life outside the confines of diapers, feedings, and spit up. Sometimes just a different view for a few moments can make a huge difference.
- Ask for help–help with meals, other children, getting into a “routine”, or any help that allows you to focus on the joy of having a new baby and not just the pressure of juggling it all.
- Don’t expect perfection in the first few weeks. Give yourself time to heal from birth, to adjust to your new “job,” and for feeding and sleeping routines to settle in.
It is important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings. If your symptoms last longer than fourteen days it could be an indication of a more serious condition, such as postpartum depression. Be honest with your care provider at all your follow up appointments. Remember you are not going to shock them with your feelings. They speak with postpartum women all the time and can evaluate how you are doing if you are honest about where you are at.
- Hire a Postpartum Doula.
- Have a meal calendar set up for your family.
- Have a list posted with things people can do to help. Anyone who comes over to see the baby can also do something off the list.
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