The majority of the images associated with new motherhood and infancy are soft, rosy, cuddly, and nurturing. While those feelings are certainly present here and there for most women, there is a darker underbelly to the postpartum period, and it is less commonly talked about or discussed.
These are the feelings of exhaustion, frustration, anger, sadness, loneliness, and helplessness a woman can feel – largely the result of post-pregnancy hormone fluctuations (not to mention lack of sleep!).
If that latter description of motherhood resonates with you, you might be suffering from the Baby Blues or bona fide postpartum depression. In either case, please know – loud and clear – you are not alone and that help is only a phone call, email, or social media post away!
When in doubt, always contact your OB/GYN – or your baby’s pediatrician – to check in, so they can evaluate the best ways to support you.
Is it The Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?
The postpartum period takes a woman’s body on a hormonal roller coaster ride. With that comes a wide range of potentially negative effects on your mental/emotional wellbeing. For some, the postpartum period results in very mild- to moderate mood swings or bouts of sadness that ease up over a matter of weeks. Those mood swings and atypical, negative thought patterns and emotions are called “The Baby Blues.”
For other women, postpartum life brings them to a more sustained, depression and despair referred to as postpartum depression. Read our post, 5 Signs of Postpartum Depression to learn more about whether or not it is time to seek more personalized support to weather the ups-and-downs.
If you feel you, your partner, or someone you love is experiencing postpartum depression, Click Here to contact PPD support in your area, or call the postpartum support hotline at 1-800-944-4773.
7 Tips to Help You Ride Out the Baby Blues
According to the American Pregnancy Association, most mothers experience the baby blues to some degree. They can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and are characterized by ups-and-downs, weepiness, and bouts of overwhelming stress. However, unlike with PPD, the baby blues ease up within weeks.
The following tips will help you weather the blues, and may clear them up even faster, because they ensure you’re getting the rest and support you need.
1. Expect them
Hopefully, your healthcare provider warned you about the potential for the baby blues or PPD. That awareness means you can identify them (or your partner can) if they start to creep up on you. It’s a relief to say, “This is just the baby blues, and it, too, shall pass…”
2. Create a plan to address icky mood days
Knowing you might succumb to the baby blues, or PPD, you can create a plan. Connect with your partner, immediate family and trusted friends about how to recognize the signs and how they can help you if they notice them. Make all social plans (outside of routine OB and pediatrician visits) “tentative.” That way, you can easily bow out or leave early if you need more time in the home, without guests, without social obligations, etc.
3. Nourish your body
It may feel like you don’t have time to eat and hydrate, but it’s essential that you take the time to do it. Read, Eating for Breastfeeding, if you’re nursing. Otherwise, visit mindbodygreen.com’s post on Exactly What to Eat When You’re Postpartum to learn more about the foods that will nourish your body and prevent depletion. Then send those recipes to your MealTrain crowd or all the eager friends/family who want to help.
4. Accept (and ask for) the help you need
Don’t say, “We’re fine…” or, “I’m fine…” when others say, “How are you?” and “Is there anything I can do?” People really do want to help, and their support conserves your energy. From grocery shopping, doing the laundry, or basic housekeeping to bringing by easy-to-heat meals or healthy snacks, let your loved ones show how much they care by supporting you in these first, precious weeks.
5. Create a self-care bag
As long as you’re getting your “grab and go” bags ready for when you go into labor, start putting together a self-care bag of your favorite things, soothers, healthy snacks, and other resources you can have in an instant if you notice the threads are fraying.
6. Load up the free (or very low-cost) mindfulness apps
Download some of the best mindfulness/relaxation apps. Your new status as mother-to-infant, means you’ll be sitting, laying, and awake more often than you’re used to. Take advantage of free mindfulness apps (via earbuds if baby is napping or nursing) to soothe your weary mind, body, and spirit.
7. Connect with other new moms
Visit our post about Support Groups for New Moms in the KC area. From joining a walking club, a mother-and-me yoga class or becoming a member of a Mom’s group or club in your area, there are plenty of ways to connect with other brand new mamas just like you. Being honest and sharing your experience with other postpartum women helps you feel less alone and more engaged with others who are walking the same path you are.
Wouldn’t it be great to visit a healthcare provider who is 100% supportive and empowering of women just like you? Contact Women’s Health Associates and work with OB/Gyns who are here to help you navigate all of the ups-and-downs associated with the postpartum baby blues, depression, and everything in between.