What Are "Baby Blues" and How Can You Get Through Them?
The baby blues... We've all heard of it, and been told about it - but what really are they and how can they affect a mother? Certified Postpartum Consultant & Doula, Sasha Romary, talks about what you can do and when to recognise it's more than just the blues.
You did it! After 40 long weeks of waiting and anticipating, you birthed a beautiful, healthy, little baby! You expected to be overjoyed, filled with love and basking in the bliss of new motherhood but instead you find yourself bursting into tears. So why do you feel so down?
What are the Baby Blues?
About 75%-80% of new mothers experience what is often referred to as the “baby blues” about 3-5 days after the birth. They can last from a few minutes to many hours per day for the first 7-14 days after birth. As it is so common, it is rarely discussed and many new moms are shocked to find themselves experiencing a sudden bursting into tears, mood swings, anxiousness and hypersensitivity, irritability, the feeling that they have not bonded with their baby, restlessness, general low spirits, and more.
So why do you feel like this? Throughout pregnancy, the placenta slowly builds up your hormone levels as baby grows. After birth, your body loses all of these hormones quickly so quickly that it is almost like you go into hormone withdrawal. The oxytocin (or happiness hormone) and adrenaline that was pumping through your body during birth drops radically, your breasts become engorged as your milk comes in and you will most likely be exhausted and achy after labor.
Emotionally, you may be anxious about the well-being of this little person that is now solely dependent on you and by this huge responsibility. This combined with severe sleep deprivation and the transition to motherhood and adjusting to your new routine and responsibilities can seem overwhelming to a new mother.
What can I do to feel better?
1) Pamper yourself - New motherhood is tough. It is tough physically and emotionally and we tend to focus all of our attention on the birth of the baby instead of the birth of the mother as well. New mom’s should not only be celebrated but they should be cared for, pampered and nourished in the delicate 40 day period known as the “fourth trimester” after birth. The more support and help a mother is given during this period, the easier the transition into motherhood and out of the “baby blues” will be.
2) Talk it out - It is also important that you have an outlet to talk about these postpartum feelings. Whether it is your partner, parent, friend, doula or midwife, sometimes just voicing these feelings out loud is all that you need in order to feel validated and heard and be able to move through it. Early motherhood can be lonely when you feel as though you are spending your days talking to a baby who doesn’t talk back.
3) Get some fresh air - Leaving the house with a newborn can seem daunting but getting some fresh air can do wonders for your mood and for baby! Meet a supportive friend for a coffee and chat or simply take a short walk around the block. Start with small outings and then gradually go from there.
4) Eat Well - Good postpartum nutrition can help as well. Try to limit caffeine and sugar and instead aim for whole, warm foods like soups and broths, vitamin-rich vegetables and lean proteins. These will help balance out your hormones and heal your body physically after birth. Many of these meals can be made in advance and frozen in single-size portions
5) Ask for help - Accept help when it is offered and don’t be afraid to ask for it when you need it! I always tell new moms that visitors should always leave the house in a better state than when they arrived. They can bring food or help with some of the household tasks like laundry or washing some dishes. Even just having a friend come over to hold baby while you shower or have a quick nap might make the world of a difference.
If you feel as though your “baby blues” are lingering past the 2-week mark than it might be a sign of something more serious. If left untreated, the “baby blues” may fade away on its own but it can also develop into Postpartum Depression. Postpartum Depression shares many similar symptoms to the “baby blues” but they tend to be more severe and new mothers can often find themselves withdrawing from their partners, friends and family. If you feel like you might be suffering from Postpartum Depression, please reach out to your care provider as soon as possible and get help!
Sasha Romary launched The Modern Mama in 2016 to provide maternity and postpartum support to women worldwide. As a trained postpartum doula, Sasha uses evidence-based information and a practical approach to supporting new parents in preparing for the arrival of a new baby and in the early days of parenthood. Follow her adventures at @_themodernmama
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