What Are The Baby Blues?

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If you are reading this you have probably recently had a baby. Are you feeling less joy than you expected to?  One of the myths of motherhood is that we will enjoy every moment and also that as soon as you deliver, you will look down and bond with your little one.

Yes, having a baby can be joyful, their tiny little fingers and toes, the smell of their hair, but if this is your first baby you might not know that it is very common to feel weepy and moody too.

The “baby blues” affects 60-80% of all new mothers. It usually occurs within the first three days following birth and continues for a couple of weeks and goes away on its own.

What Do The Baby Blues Feel Like?

If you have the baby blues, you may:

What Causes The Baby Blues?

The baby blues can be triggered by physical changes, emotional factors, or both. After birth your hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are very high during pregnancy, plummet. As they drop, your breasts become engorged as your milk comes in and you are likely to be exhausted. On top of all this, you may also be having to play host to numerous visitors wanting to see the new baby.

There are emotional changes as well as the physical ones. Infants are so tiny and vulnerable and need around the clock care. You may be anxious about your baby’s well being and you are adjusting to your new responsibilities and role as a parent (of if this is not your first child, as your role as a mother of 2 children etc..).

What Can You Do About The Baby Blues?

The baby blues usually goes away on their own without treatment within about 2 weeks.

As well as being a mom of three myself, I have met hundreds of new moms in the 20 years I have been treating pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders. Below is a list I have compiled from asking them ‘What really helped when you were overwhelmed and stressed?

So here are 25 things that you can do now, and in the future, to reduce the stress of being a mom. Good self-care and realistic expectations are helpful for every mom.

  1. Do not expect too much from yourself right now.
  2. Take short breaks from the baby.
  3. Avoid overdoing anything.
  4. Get out of the house.
  5. Set small goals for yourself.
  6. Eat healthily every 3 -4 hours to keep your blood sugar levels (and therefore mood) even.
  7. Screen phone calls.
  8. Set limits with your guests.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  10. Delegate household duties.
  11. Let others know what they can do to help.
  12. Let your partner/family/friends know how you are feeling.
  13. Be very specific about what you need from your partner.
  14. Avoid people who make you feel bad and seek out those who make you feel good.
  15. Lose any expectations you have of yourself & others that can’t possibly be fulfilled.
  16. Trust your instincts. You are doing many things right!
  17. Expect some good days and some bad days.
  18. Prioritize what needs to be done and what can wait.
  19. Thank your partner/family/friends for helping you.
  20. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  21. Do not blame yourself.
  22. Do the best you can. If it doesn’t feel like enough, it’s enough for now.
  23. Give yourself permission to have negative feelings but also catch yourself doing something well or experiencing something positive rather than only dwelling on the negatives.
  24. Remind yourself that all adjustment takes time.
  25. Don’t feel guilty, it wastes energy!

I think we need to have more awareness about the baby blues, firstly because so many women experience it – 60-80% – and secondly, because knowing something is likely to happen allows you to prepare for it and not feel there is something wrong with you. Women so often feel guilt and shame that they are not feeling the way they think the perfect mother should feel.

Remember, for most women, these feelings go away within a couple of weeks but if they don’t, you may be one of the 15-20% of women who are experiencing postpartum anxiety and/or depression.

Please read this post below to understand more about the types of mood disorders that can happen:

If you would like to read more of my Pregnancy & Postpartum related articles please click  Dr. Allen’s Pregnancy & Postpartum Blog

If you want to read more about maternal mental health download the FREE Guide To Pregnancy & Postpartum Stress, Anxiety & Depression. It is full of information about symptoms, different types of maternal mood disorders and advice about what to do to start feeling like yourself again.

THE GUIDE TO PREGNANCY & POSTPARTUM STRESS, ANXIETY & DEPRESSION ebook
PREGNANCY / POSTPARTUM MOOD SCREENING TEST ebook

 

Dr. Sarah Allen has 20+ years experience helping women transition to being the mom they want to be. She is also the Director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of IL, a non-profit offering info and support to pregnant and postpartum moms and their families.

In her Northbrook office, or Chicago, IL and FL via telephone or online counseling she offers the most convenient way for you to access support and help.

If you would like to read my blog posts of a variety of topics such as Anxiety, Depression, Parenting, Emotional Eating and Couples & Family Counseling click  Dr. Allen’s Blog and then go to the relevant section that interests you.

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If you are thinking about getting counseling and you’d like to talk to someone about the things that are troubling you, I am happy to help.