The A to Z’s of Motherhood: B is for “Baby Blues”

Having a baby is stressful and emotional and your recovery will probably look something like this:  you haven’t washed your hair in days, you’re wearing cabbage leaves in your bra because your boobs are the size of Pamela Anderson’s (and boy do they HURT) and the thought of putting on “real clothes” makes you want to cry.

One minute you feel pure joy for this brand new human being you made and the next minute you are sobbing in over a commercial and in creeps the feelings of self-doubt.  These feelings are normal and so common that they actually gave it its own name:  “baby blues”.

What is the difference between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression?

Approximately 70-80% of new postpartum parents will experience symptoms of the baby blues.  The major difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression is the length of time the symptoms last and the intensity of the symptoms.  Signs you might be suffering from the baby blues? Mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, decreased concentration and trouble sleeping.  You might be thinking, these symptoms sound a lot like postpartum depression.  True, but baby blues usually begin around the 4th or 5th day postpartum and usually resolve withing a few weeks.

Postpartum depression occurs in approximately 15% of postpartum families.  Symptoms of postpartum depression include loss of appetite, insomnia, intense irritability or anger, withdrawing from family and friends, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.  These symptoms may start out as mild and progressively become more severe, eventually interfering with your ability to take care of yourself or your baby.  If you think you are suffering from postpartum depression, please contact your local care provider.

Ways to help with the baby blues?

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Well-balanced meals.  Having a newborn can cause you to make poor choices, usually grabbing whatever is easiest to snack on.  But eating too many carbohydrates can make mood swings more pronounced.
  • Get some fresh air.  Sometimes getting out of the same four walls can do wonders for your mood.
  • Ask for help.  Help with chores, food shopping & meal prepping can take a lot of pressure off of you and help with mood.  When friends ask what they can do to help, don’t be afraid to tell them.
  • Lower your expectations.  Allow your body time to heal and your newborn time to adjust to life outside of the womb.  If you are patient and allow this to happen you might find your mood improves simultaneously.

Final words of advice?

Stop feeling like you need to do everything on your own.  It’s ok to ask for help. And most importantly, remember that you are not alone.  If your feelings seem to be getting worse and have lasted more than 14 days it might be time to reach out for some professional help.  And that is OK!  Be honest with yourself (and your doctor) about how you are feeling.  Trust me, they have heard it all but they can only properly evaluate you if you are being honest with them! Be well. Your baby needs you to be the BEST version of you. Hugs.