"Nadia gave birth 3 days ago to a beautiful baby girl. She was alright at first but now she finds herself crying for no reason at all. She feels worried and anxious all the time about her ability to properly care for her baby. She feels overwhelmed and sad for hours during the day. Nadia thinks there's something wrong with her. She should be feeling happy, so why does she feel so unhappy?"
Being a new mom is a powerful experience that triggers intense emotions. Joy, excitement, awe, delight, and satisfaction, amongst others.
But it's also not unusual for new mothers to experience emotions such as anxiety, fear, mood swings, uncertainty, sadness, and even depression after childbirth.
These symptoms which usually begin 2-5 days after childbirth are known as Baby Blues.
What should you know about Baby Blues?
Baby blues has identifiable symptoms
Baby blues is a milder form of postpartum depression. It often starts a few days after childbirth and can last for up to 2 weeks.
The symptoms of baby blues include:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of sadness
- Weepiness: frequent crying for no identifiable reason
- Appetite problems: Eating too much or too little
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Feeling overwhelmed and restless
- Wanting to be alone
- Insomnia: having difficulty falling and staying sleeping
Symptoms tend to dissipate without treatment. You will need to see a medical professional if you feel sad and worried for more than two weeks. You may be at risk for postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a more severe and long-lasting form of depression. Postpartum depression can affect your ability to care for and bond with your child as well as your ability to perform daily tasks.
Baby Blues affect a lot of women
Experts say most women experience baby blues, approximately 70-80% of women! Women of all races, ages, education levels, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds can be affected by baby blues.
What causes baby blues?
Although it is quite common, the exact cause is unknown, but several factors have been highlighted. The hormonal changes during pregnancy and after childbirth may create chemical imbalances in the brain that may result in depression.
Changes in your sleep routine (not sleeping as much as you used to) and diet as well as disruption to other routines such as exercising can also contribute to baby blues. Feelings of worry and uncertainty about how the birth of the baby may change your life or how to properly care for the baby may also play a part.
How do I care for myself or my partner during this time?
Baby blues tend to resolve on its own, but you can make it easier by:
- Eating healthy, balanced meals at least 3 times a day.
- Finding time to carry our simple home exercises.
- Avoid abusing prescription drugs, alcohol, or psychoactive drugs such as marijuana. These substances can affect your mood and make it harder to care for yourself and your baby.
- Asking for help as much as possible. Tell your spouse, family, and friends how you feel and how they can help.
- Spending some time alone. Ask a trusted individual to watch your baby and take the time to nap, shower, walk around the block, or just breathe.
- Talking to other parents who will understand just how you feel.
Baby blues refers to a mild form of depression experienced by most women around the world. If you feel sad or overwhelmed or weepy after childbirth, don't feel bad or like something's wrong with you, it's completely normal.
Baby blues tend to resolve on its own in 2 weeks or less. If you are experiencing intense symptoms for more than 2 weeks, please see a medical professional.