It just doesn’t seem fair. You just gave birth — one of the most incredible experiences a woman can imagine. But, in a matter of days, you’re feeling anxious, depressed, and moody. And you’re far from alone. On average, four out of five new mothers experience the “baby blues” — a form of depression that is milder than postpartum depression.
Baby blues typically do not last as long as postpartum depression and often do not require treatment. However, this is not meant to imply that it’s not a big deal. As touched on above, it can feel devastating to be in a funk when you want to be celebrating your new child 24/7.
Common Causes of the Baby Blues
While a single cause is not yet known, the baby blues seem to be related to these general factors:
- Hormones: Hormone levels during pregnancy fluctuate greatly but the most rapid change occurs in the days after giving birth.
- Sudden Lifestyle Changes: Suddenly, you are caring for a newborn and your life contains a whole new set of worries.
- Sleep Deprivation: Having a baby means getting less sleep. Getting less sleep increases a woman’s likelihood of feeling depressed.
Common Symptoms of the Baby Blues
Of course, each woman and each case is different. Thus, symptoms can vary widely. Even so, these are some of the more universal signs of baby blues:
- Lack of emotional regulation
- Sadness that may include crying spells
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased appetite
- Forgetfulness and lack of concentration
- Irritability and angry outbursts
4 Tips for Successfully Coping with the Baby Blues
1. Understand and Accept What Is Happening
You are not a “bad mother.” Eighty percent of new Moms have felt the same way. Don’t add guilt to the mix. Do some research to deepen your understanding of the situation. It will help ease your mind. The baby blues will pass.
2. Safeguard Your Sleep
The presence of a newborn can disrupt any chance of keeping a steady sleep routine. So make sleep a top, spontaneous priority. Let the dirty dishes and laundry pile up and sleep every time you have a chance to do so. If you can’t find a healthy balance, ask for help.
3. Get Outside and Get Active
A great way to balance out the baby blues is to incorporate movement and social time into your life. Best of all, do this outside! Sunlight will increase vitamin D production which is shown to help when dealing with any type of mood issue. Take your baby out when you can. Also, when you have someone else to watch your child, get out for a brisk walk with friends.
4. Reach Out for Help
In the digital age, healing conversations are at your fingertips. Do not suffer in silence. Talk to your spouse or a family member or a trusted friend. Basically, you need someone who will listen without judgment but with compassion. You also need folks who will chip and help with errands and chores. No one expects you to do it all — especially when you’re feeling down. So, get comfortable with requesting support.
When Baby Blues Become Overwhelming
Feeling stressed and sad after childbirth is common and usually subsides in a week or two. Still, if you feel overwhelmed, it makes sense to consult a professional. Therapy is a proven channel for managing emotions and learning new coping skills. Your sessions are a safe space where you can speak openly about anything. It can be liberating to be heard and validated.