Many new mothers experience what is called "postpartum blues" between the third and tenth day after childbirth. When one thinks about it, it is not surprising this let down should occur. You may experience feelings of depression or inability to cope with the new demands being asked of you. Also, you may have increasing doubts about your ability to care for your baby and may wonder if you will ever feel anything but exhausted. You may experience unexplained crying, mood swings, loss of appetite and a feeling of being trapped. Your partner may also be exhausted and may resent the amount of time the baby requires, and at the same time, experience guilt for having these feelings.
Such feelings are normal and usually go away after a week or two.
As mentioned above, after the baby is born, a large change occurs in the amounts of certain hormones in the mother’s body. This change in hormone levels is believed to cause postpartum depression in about 15 percent of new mothers. Unlike the “baby blues,” postpartum depression symptoms continue beyond the first six weeks after birth and are more serious. If you have a history of depression, you may be at greater risk of developing postpartum depression. Be sure to discuss this with your health care provider.
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
Ways to help yourself
- Get plenty of rest and sleep.
- Eat well. Do not try to diet too soon. Wait at least six weeks before starting a weight-loss diet. Eat sensibly to rebuild and maintain your energy.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially if you are breastfeeding.
- Try to do some sort of mild exercise every day. Exercise is a great pick-me-up and a good outlet for releasing tension and frustration.
- Arrange for short times away from the baby.
- Get out of the house at least once a day for a walk.
- Form relationships with other new moms. Join a mother’s support group or postpartum depression group. Share your experiences and fears. The more you talk about your worries, the more you will find that you are not alone.
- Ask others to help with housework, babysitting and caring for other children you may have so you can get away for awhile.
- Seek support from your family, friends, church, health care provider, clinic or mental health center. Keep their telephone numbers next to your telephone.
- Try to postpone other major life changes, such as moving to a new home, whenever possible.
- Organize and prepare as much as you can the night before. This will help you wake up feeling well organized and ready to face the day.
- Allow for more time than you think you might really need. If you add 15 or 20 minutes to your total expected time, you will have a much better chance of being on time.
- Never compare your baby to another baby. Each child is unique and each grows and develops at his/her own rate.
- Keep a sense of humor. You can not always be responsible for the behavior of your baby. If you laugh at embarrassing moments, most people will laugh along with you.
- Be good to yourself by trying to meet your needs. Treat yourself to a good book, calming bath or new hairstyle.
- Enjoy your baby. Relax and delight in every moment possible. Hug, kiss, cuddle, laugh with and love your baby.
Remember, you are not only adjusting to a new 24-hour-a-day job as a parent and a changing relationship with your partner, but you are also recovering from giving birth. These anxious feelings usually go away after several weeks, especially with understanding and support from your partner and friends, and as you watch your baby grow and develop.
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