Coping with the Baby Blues: A Helpful Guide
Although a beautiful occasion in life, having a baby is a big adjustment. You have new responsibilities, your sleep is seriously impacted, and life is very different from the time before your baby arrived. And so, as these changes are unfolding, it’s important to protect your mental health. With 85% of women experiencing some sort of mood disturbance post-birth, we’ve put together some helpful advice for new or soon-to-be mums.
What are the baby blues?
The most common form of mental struggles post-pregnancy are what’s known as the ‘baby blues’. They’re incredibly common, and tend to materialise a week or two after birth.
What are the symptoms?
- Feeling down or sad
- Feeling tearful or crying
- No appetite
- Struggles with sleep
- Issues with concentration
- Lack of interest in activities
This issue is usually caused either by hormonal changes that happen after pregnancy, or by the comedown from the adrenaline high of actually giving birth. However, it can also be triggered by the overwhelming realisation that you have a new little person to take care of! Many women experience a lot of joy after birth, before their mood gradually lowers.
Baby blues or postpartum depression?
Although most women experience some form of baby blues, only 10 – 20% suffer from postpartum depression, and there are some distinct differences between the two. They do have similar symptoms, but postpartum depression tends to last for an extended period of time. It can occur up to a year after the baby is born, though it usually emerges in the first two to three months. As this is a more serious condition, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what you’ve been experiencing.
Tips for coping with the baby blues
1. Give yourself time: For the most part, baby blues pass within a couple of days, so allow yourself time to overcome them. Also, give yourself some credit! A massive life change has just occurred, and that takes time to get used to.
2. Talk: Having someone who you can unload your feelings onto can really help. Be it your partner, a friend, a fellow mother – they’re sure to understand and empathise with what you’re going through.
3. Get help from others: New mums often feel they need to do everything themselves – from childcare and housekeeping to shopping and feeds, but taking on too much can ultimately be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’ll ease the load.
4. Go outside: After having a baby, mums can feel ‘cabin fever’ if they’re cooped up indoors for too long. Getting out, even if it’s just to the shop or for a quick walk, can work wonders for the mind.
5. Take time away from the baby: A newborn is a lot of work, and it can be difficult to take time even for a shower, let alone escape for a couple of hours. Ask a friend or family member to look after your little one so you can get some alone time and relax your mind.
6. Sleep: Babies and sleep don’t usually mix, but a good night’s rest is the ultimate energiser. Asking your partner, friend or parent to assist with night feeding duties, or take the baby for a walk while you nap, could give your mental health a major boost.
7. Skip the non-essentials: Housework, calling back friends, replying to congratulations cards – give them a miss until you’re feeling 100%. Instead, spend this time bonding with your baby and keeping yourself healthy and happy.
If these feelings of sadness and anxiety persist, make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she will have met lots of mothers in the same situation, and will be happy to chat through options with you. Just talking about how you’re feeling will probably be a weight off your shoulders – so don’t suffer in silence.