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When my first child was born, I was taken aback by the unfamiliar feelings of fear, isolation, and boredom. I’m not sure what I thought motherhood would initially be like, but I am pretty sure that it wasn’t me blubbering on and on about how awkward my body felt or about how much I was sure my baby was just plain pissed off off all the time. Was I failing at this right out of the gate? Turns out, I had the baby blues.
Most women will go through a period of emotional adjustment right after the birth of a child and it’s understandable why. Not only is there a cascade of hormones flooding mum but there is a ton of mental and emotional heavy lifting that suddenly happens as mum navigates the frustrations of not sleeping, getting used to a postnatal body, the round-the-clock care for a new tiny person, and the list goes on.
The baby blues is a period of depression-likee symptoms that are usually temporary and tend to last for roughly two weeks. This cloud of sadness and moodiness is estimated to affect between 60 and 80% of mums.
But the baby blues is not the same thing as postnatal depression. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the difference between baby blues and postnatal depression is that baby blues are short term and generally characterised by mild mood swings. If the blues grow in intensity, or they don’t fade away after a few days or two weeks then mums should consider taking to their doctor about PPD.
The baby blues may feel paralyzing at first, but there are ways to cope while your body’s hormones settle down and life starts to feel like it is getting to a routine that feels normal to you.
The best part of having a baby is all the attention you’ll get right after birth. Everyone, it seems, wants to hold your baby or feel like they are helping in some way, which is great. If someone offers to help hold the baby so you can take a nap, say yes! If your neighbour drops off a casserole, awesome! Learning to accept and even ask for help doesn’t make you weak or needy, it makes you nothing less than a mama who knows she needs some R&R.
Sleep, Eat, Shower, Repeat
Make sure that you are getting time to sleep, eat, and shower. Yes, it can be super challenging to get those three important things in, but they are vital to your self-care and health. When your basic needs are being met it can help alleviate the moods that accompany the baby blues.
Make A Self-Care Kit
If you have a nappy bag, use one of the pockets for small things that are just for you. Maybe a stick of roll-on lavender oil to smell when you feel stressed, a bar of luxe chocolate, even a written reminder that you’re a kickass lady and you won’t let the baby blues get you down!
Call Your Mum Squad
Tell your friends and family what you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to enlist your friends in making sure that you don’t feel alone or isolated. Sometimes a phone call where you get to just unload is exactly what you need. And sometimes, just laughing or feeling heard is what the doctor ordered.
When the baby blues feel like they are kicking your butt, just remember that they are normal, they temporary, and they will definitely go away. If you feel like the baby blues are getting worse and none of your coping strategies are working then reach out for help. You can call the National Postnatal Depression Hotline at 1-800-PPD-MOMS.