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Having a newborn can be exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time. A baby brings a lot of happiness in your life while also making it seem like all the norms have broken loose. Your daily routine goes for a toss, while day and night merge together to transform you into a sleepwalking zombie. Your body has just produced a living being and has not returned to its normal state. Therefore, it is perfectly normal to go through baby blues amidst all this.
What are Postpartum Blues?
Approximately 70-80% of new mothers experience baby blues syndrome after delivery. This is a short period of unhappiness, anxiety and irritability. A mother might experience the blues 4-5 days after the delivery or earlier depending on the experience of delivery. Baby blues after pregnancy is quite a different story as opposed to the common perception of a glowing, happy new mom.
Do all Mothers Experience Baby Blues?
Not all new mothers experience baby blues, but 70-80% do. A family history of depression or domestic conflicts can increase your chances of having the blues. The time after delivery can be stressful due to the many changes that come about. The system of support available during the period immediately after pregnancy can greatly help a mother in dealing with the blues.
What Causes Baby Blues?
The blues can be due to a variety of reasons such as physical changes, hormonal changes and emotional factors. The level of hormones, oestrogen and progesterone is the highest in a woman’s body during pregnancy. The huge plummet in hormones after delivery can also trigger baby blues. Emotional factors such as wanting to be a perfect mother or thoughts of not doing it right can also affect you. Other factors such as trauma during delivery, difficulty in breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, family history of depression can all cause baby blues.
Signs and Symptoms of Baby Blues
These are some of the baby blues after birth symptoms:
- Feeling emotional, weepy and vulnerable for no apparent reason: You might cry at the drop of a hat, so it’s a good idea to keep the tissues nearby. Talk to your partner or someone else about your thoughts. Discussing with others will help you realise that most things are not as earth-shattering as they seem to you.
- Impatience, irritability, restlessness, anxiety: These symptoms just complement each other! So if you find yourself being unreasonably snappy or irritated at your partner and other children, you know you got the blues. The best way to deal with this is to relax and stop thinking about the gazillion things that need to be done. Concentrate on yourself and the baby. All the other things can wait.
- Fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration: Well, blame the sleep fewer nights for these symptoms. Try going to sleep when the baby does; this will give you some hours of sleep.
How Long does Baby Blues Last?
Baby blues strike almost immediately after the delivery and tend to last for a couple of weeks. Baby blues are the least extreme form of postpartum depression, which lasts longer and require medical attention.
Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression
After the rollercoaster ride of pregnancy and delivery, it is quite natural for moms to have the baby blues. If the blues get worse or do not go away after a few weeks, it could be postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression symptoms are similar to that of baby blues but worse. It includes withdrawal from a partner, difficulty in bonding with the baby, anxiety that prevents sleep, feelings of guilt and suicidal thoughts. Several factors such as hormonal changes, physical changes, change in bodily metabolism and stress can lead to depression. Seek counselling help to deal with depression.
Postpartum psychosis is a serious disorder characterised by loss of touch with reality. Suicide and infanticide are the risks associated with the disorder, and hence hospitalisation is essential to keep the mother and baby safe. The symptoms include hallucinations, delusion, extreme anxiety, suicidal thoughts or actions, extreme confusion or disorientation, rapid mood swings, bizarre behaviour and thoughts of harming the baby.
How to Treat Baby Blues?
Here are some tips on how to deal with baby blues:
- Have some me time: The hectic routine after a baby can be unsettling. Therefore make sure to pay attention to yourself, other chores around the house can wait or try to get someone else to help with those. Sleep when the baby naps and try to relax in general.
- Talk: Sharing what your feelings with someone close to you is important, that help in coping with baby blues. If you feel low, don’t feel guilty about it. When people know that you are feeling low, they will be more supportive and helpful.
- Eat well: Include healthy foods in your diet and don’t forget to eat during all the hustle and bustle that ensues after childbirth. You might also want to get back in shape after the pregnancy, which is fine, but do not try to control your hunger pangs in the initial months. Eat nutritious food that satisfies the bodily needs.
- Go for a walk: Going outdoors can do you a lot of good. After pregnancy, the thought of dressing up and going for a walk with the baby might seem daunting. But the fresh air and change of scene can provide a new perspective and some positive vibes.
- Get help: Get others to help you around the house and with the baby. Don’t shy from asking for help; you deserve all the help you can get. This will help you relax and get some sleep.
- Don’t beat yourself up: You might have imagined yourself being a happy and lively mother to your baby. But your body might not be ready for it, so relax and tell yourself that you are doing the best you can.
When should you Worry?
It is quite natural to have baby blues post-delivery, and there is nothing to worry about it. But if your symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks, you might be suffering from postpartum depression. Also, if you develop suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming the baby, seek medical help immediately.