Having a baby is one of life’s greatest blessings, but parenthood brings great challenges. There are the sleepless nights, inconsolable crying, constant feedings, all along with keeping up laundry, cooking, and caring for the rest of the family. It’s no wonder that after the birth of a child, approximately 70-80% of new moms suffer from the baby blues, which is considered the mildest form of Postpartum Depression.
So, how can you tell if the baby blues is a more serious condition? If you are feeling irritable, impatient, restless, fatigued, sad: if you are crying for no reason; if you have poor concentration, erratic mood swings, insomnia, or anxiety, you may be experiencing baby blues. These symptoms can last for a few minutes to a few hours each day and can lessen after two weeks after the baby is born. If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, it could be Postpartum Depression and you should see your healthcare provider.
Many factors contribute to baby blues, but the main factor is hormones. It will take some time for a mother’s hormones to return to “normal” after giving birth. Also, the chores leave you physically exhausted, your body is probably sore, and you might not feel like your body is your own. These circumstances can be an upsetting and uncomfortable experience, but they are only temporary.
Having a baby is one of the biggest adjustments to which people have to adapt. Even though this is a positive milestone, it brings massive change and takes time to adjust. There is no manual saying how to take care of your new bundle of joy. This is a lot of pressure and it can be overwhelming. Many new mothers worry excessively if they are doing it right and about the well-being of their baby. Generally, the husband does not have time off of work and the woman has to navigate this foreign territory by herself (and with help from Google). Often it makes people feel anxious, depressed, or seem unstable. It is a job that takes time to learn, requires a lot of work, and an adjustment to whole new lifestyle. Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself time to get adjusted.
To combat these baby blues, learn to take care of yourself. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to learn your new role as a mother. You will not be perfect in those first two weeks. Self care is critical. Even if it means taking time away from the baby, make sure you allow yourself to feel as good as you can. Place your baby in a safe area, such as their crib. Take a shower, eat a healthy meal, pray, read your Bible, talk to an old friend, blog or journal. Napping also helps considerably. Here is a very important piece of advice: Try to sleep when the baby is sleeping. It will combat fatigue and mood swings. All the chores can wait. You will not be helpful to your child if you are not well. Make yourself a priority.
Ask friends and family for help with chores around the house to help ease the stress. Look to trusted loved ones for support and guidance along the way. If your anxiety is more than occasional, talk to someone you trust or seek help from a professional counselor. If at anytime you feel that you or your baby are unsafe, reach out for help. Resources are available to navigate this season of life. Parenting a new baby is a big job, so don’t hesitate to seek out whatever help you need. Trust that God promises that he will never leave us. Nothing will ever separate us from his love. Remember that you are not alone.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster