We hear people talk about the “baby blues”, but what are they exactly? What do they feel like? How do I know if I have them?
The baby blues affect 80% of women in the days and weeks following birth. They are described as feeling low, sad, overwhelmed, emotional and exhausted, and might include crying at the drop of a hat. They typically start around days 3-4 after birth due to the surge of hormones that causes your milk to come in, which is also when the adrenaline from giving birth wears off and sleep deprivation starts to set in.
Giving birth is a life changing, transformative event and there are a lot of emotions associated with that. Those who experience the baby blues might feel nervous for the future, wondering what they signed up for and worried if they’ll ever sleep or feel like themselves again. They might feel surprised about the reality of it all and be different than they were expecting. For most people, these feelings usually pass within two weeks with the help of a good support system and the establishment of a routine. They can be particularly hard on someone with a “type A” personality, or those who don't consider themselves very emotional and might get frustrated with themselves for feeling this way. Those who have previously dealt with anxiety or depression in their lives are at a greater risk for experiencing the baby blues, as are those who have struggled with infertility. Remember, the baby blues affect 8/10 women and are nothing to be ashamed of.
Below are some tips on getting through the baby blues:
Go through it, not around it. Talk about your feelings. Keeping your sadness bottled up, or trying to sweep it under the rug will only make things worse. Discuss your fears, overwhelm, and don’t hold back if you need to cry. Letting everything out is important and will actually help you to overcome these feelings sooner.
Speak to other moms. The more we talk about it, the more it will be talked about. We’ve come a long way where mental health is concerned, and the baby blues are no longer lumped together and considered the same thing as postpartum depression/anxiety. These baby blues feelings are typically not severe or worrisome, and are all too common. If you know someone who’s had a baby, chances are that person experienced some form of the baby blues, too.
Recognize that this is all temporary. Your baby WON’T be this small, dependent and fussy forever. They WILL sleep in longer stretches soon. You WILL find your groove. Don’t get wrapped up in the fear that this is how things will be forever. It won’t be. Take things one day at a time.
Work with a therapist - one that specializes in postpartum mood can be extremely helpful. I can’t recommend Vania Sukola enough (http://vaniasukola.ca, email@example.com).
What if things are getting worse? If these feelings continue past two weeks and you feel as though they are getting worse instead of better, it may be a sign of postpartum depression or anxiety. Signs of these might include:
Having difficulty bonding with your baby
Experiencing emotional withdrawal
Feeling hyper anxious about your baby’s health and safety
Having intrusive thoughts
A feeling of franticness and urgency
Speak to your healthcare provider for options for treatment - help is always available.