It can be a real whirlwind of emotions in the week that follows giving birth. While many mums report feeling elated straight after the birth, this tends to give way to exhaustion soon after, and for many others, this is followed by a day or two of what’s known as the ‘baby blues’.
Baby blues is a term used to describe a short period of time in the first week or so after giving birth, where you might feel emotional, irritable and sensitive. Different to postnatal depression, this is a very normal and transient feeling that affects as many as 80% of mums, and is due largely to the enormous hormonal fluctuations that occur after giving birth.
Plus, you know. You’ve just had a baby. That’s pretty big, lady.
There is such a big build up to meeting your baby, and the birth is such a massive deal for you and your partner, that it’s completely acceptable to feel a bit emotional in the days following it, as your body adjusts hormonally to the new changes, and you adjust mentally to what’s going on.
So now you know that these feelings are normal, here are some ways you can deal with them if they happen to you:
Know that this will pass
If you feel emotional and teary in the days following having your baby, know that this is temporary and completely normal. The low feelings will pass and it doesn’t have anything to do with how you are as a mum. Remember that most women tend to feel sensitive around this time, and this is not an indication that you might develop postnatal depression later on. After a few days of rest, the mood should lift and you’ll feel a lot better.
Let your partner support you
It’s a good idea to talk with your partner about the support you will need if you experience the baby blues. What can they do to help you? Bring you chocolate? Set you up in front of the TV with a box of tissues? Take the baby so you can shower or rest up? It’s important to communicate how you’re feeling and let them know what you need, so you are both on the same page.
Keep visitors to a minimum
If you’re experiencing the baby blues, this is not the time for visitors and chit chat – unless that makes you feel better, of course. If you’re just home with your baby, recovering from birth and dealing with broken sleep, social obligations aren’t going to be a great mix. If the idea of having visitors over to meet your baby is even remotely stressful, then give it a miss until you’re feeling up to it.
Be kind to yourself
Give yourself the time to get through this patch and treat yourself delicately. You’ve been through a lot, and it’s worthwhile reminding yourself of that. Some self-love and care will help things along – which means letting go of any ‘should-dos’. So forget the housework, shopping or to-do lists for now, you can get back to these when you’re feeling up to it. Right now, just use the time to rest up, nurture yourself and cuddle that delicious baby of yours.
Let someone know if you don’t feel better
The baby blues usually shifts within a few days, but if you notice the low feelings or anxiety hanging around for longer than this, it’s worth checking it out with someone. You can contact a helpline like PANDA, see your GP or let your Child and Family Health nurse know how you’re feeling. Sometimes just talking about these things can help, but in any case, it will also mean you’ll get any extra support that’s necessary.