As new moms, you have a lot going on! Your whole world has just changed, and the last thing you should have to worry about is the huge hormonal overload after birth. Most of you have probably heard of the Baby Blues and/or postpartum depression. This post is intended to help differentiate between PPD and Baby Blues so hopefully you can tell the difference.
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The information I’m sharing was pulled from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), along with a packet given by hospital during a birth class. I am not a doctor and the following information shouldn’t be considered medical advice. If you are concerned in any way, you should definitely see your healthcare provider, as they will be able to help and asses you better than anyone.
To start off, I would like to share my experience with the baby blues. I have always been a very optimistic and upbeat person. For some reason, I thought that made me immune to all things related to feeling down or depressed (wrong). I was under the assumption that mind-over-matter could prevent the baby blues (also wrong) and there was just no way I could ever feel sad after finally getting to hold my child – something I had been dreaming about for so many years. I made it home from the hospital thinking I was in the clear, and then by day 4 I was such a mess.
As soon as the sun started to set, I became this anxious, weepy wreck. I think it only made things worse knowing I was so upset for no reason and I couldn’t just “turn it off” and be happy. It sounds so silly to say now, that I thought I could control this hormone imbalance by sheer willpower, but I was at an all-time low. I felt like my body was just betraying me! As the sun dipped lower, so did the tightness in my chest. I felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by people.
I found myself sitting on the couch, holding my baby boy, and just sobbing. There wasn’t any reason to cry but I had this overwhelming sadness inside me. It was obvious that I love my baby, I love my husband, I love my family and my dogs and everything else in my life, but when I looked at them, I didn’t feel that warm fuzzy sensation like I normally did.
love my baby, I love my husband, I love my family and my dogs and everything else in my life, but when I looked at them – I didn’t feel that warm fuzzy sensation like I normally did.
I’m not sharing this to scare you, I’m sharing so you will know you are NOT alone! This was totally NORMAL, but in the moment I felt like I was losing my mind and I was the only person that had ever experienced this. Luckily, these feeling only lasted about 4 days and by the next week I was feeling like myself again. I was so glad to have so much support while I sat on the couch and cried over my chicken nuggets and whether or not I wanted to take a nap.
I didn’t realize how common it was until I did more research after the fact. Postpartum Blues or “Baby Blues” occur in 90% of women! They can happen to any mom, even if it is not their first baby. They typically see the symptoms around day 3 or 4 postpartum and can last as little as a few hours, up to two weeks. It can show up in many different forms, but some common symptoms are:
- Crying or being easily irritable
- Exhausted (I’m pretty sure 100% of moms have this symptom)
- Can’t sleep
- Trouble eating
- Hard to make choices
- Troubles concentrating
- Feeling like you can’t take care of yourself or baby
If you have the baby blues, you want to try to keep your expectations realistic. Try to remember that you just did something so amazing but it takes a huge toll on your body and it takes time to heal. It can take some time for you to bond with your baby, and time for your baby to bond with you. Not all moms experience that rush of emotion once the baby is born, and THAT IS OKAY! It is totally normal, and that feeling of love will come with time as you get to know this new person.
In the days after delivery, you can try the following to help adjust to this new life:
- Rest as much as you can – Labor is hard and exhausting, you are probably waking up multiple times a night to feed and soothe your baby, and this surge of emotion can really take a toll on your body.
- Limit Visitors – Unless you know they are going to be helpful! There are two types of people that come see you after birth
- The helpful kind that will do dishes, make dinner, and help with laundry/cleaning. This is normally good friends and parents.
- Then there are the friends that mean well but they want to come over to “help hold the baby”. These are the guests you want to limit – although they are so excited for you and you want to share your joy, most people don’t need help holding their brand new baby. I had such a hard time with this, and never wanted to give my son to anyone else.
- When those helpful guests come by to give you a hand, LET THEM! Don’t feel bad about them doing dishes or cooking you meals, they WANT to help you! There are not enough hours in the day to take care of yourself, your newborn, getting enough sleep, AND worry about doing chores around the house.
- Keep an open line of communication with your partner or someone that knows you well (mom, sister, best friend, etc.). These people know you the best and might be able to sense something wrong before you do. They will also be able to help you seek out assistance if needed, but only if you are open with them about your feelings.
When these symptoms last more than two weeks or start to get worse, you might have postpartum depression or anxiety. PPD can show up any time during the first few months to one year after delivery. 10-20% of women end up with postpartum depression, and you should definitely seek out help if you think you are experiencing this. A lot of moms hold off on seeking help but it is nothing to be ashamed of and the longer you wait, the worse the symptoms could get. If it goes untreated, these symptoms can last up to a year but it’s totally unnecessary! Most women respond very well to treatment, especially if started early.
Some of the signs of postpartum depression or anxiety include:
- Feeling like you lost your identity
- Feeling withdrawn and isolated, even when surrounded by others
- Not wanting to eat at all, or constant overeating
- Feeling exhausted but unable to fall asleep
- You feel like you are losing control
- Mood swings and/or constant crying
- Feeling hopeless or like you are failing
- Feeling like you have to keep moving or pacing
- Overly concerned about the cleanliness of your baby and germs
- (it’s normal to worry about germs, this is when you become obsessive about it).
- Lack of interest in your baby
These are just a few of many signs. Every woman can experience this differently. This is why it is so important to have a support team that can help identify when you are acting different. Sometimes you won’t be able to see the signs, but your partner or family member can.
A lot of moms do not want to seek help fearing they will be seen as a “bad” mom. Feeling this way does NOT mean you are a bad mom; it can happen to anybody and has nothing to do with whether you are a good or bad mother.
If you are feeling down, the best option is to talk to your doctor or pediatrician about it asap. They are trained in this and will be able to help guide you to the correct support. In addition, there are so many resources out there to help cope with these feelings. Most hospitals will have a postpartum support group or will be able to direct you to one in your area. You can also seek help online at Postpartum Support International (https://www.postpartum.net/).
If you have been feeling off, just know, this is not your fault and you are not alone! For everyone else, reach out to your mom friends; you never know which moms could use a friend or just someone to talk to.
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