You’ve just had a baby. You thought you’d be basking in baby bliss… but instead, you’re feeling blue… out of the blue. Let’s face it: no matter how much any mum-to-be has been looking forward to the big day when their little one makes an appearance, it’s stressful. Between all the sleep deprivation, massive new life responsibilities, flying hormones and the shock of suddenly losing the bump you’ve been carrying for nine months, it’s no surprise that post-pregnancy blues (baby blues) are fairly common among new mothers.
Read on for advice from the trenches.
1. Don’t go it alone. There’s nothing more depressing than facing that colicky baby, mountain of spit-up laundry or tower of dirty dishes alone. It’s easy to become isolated at home, taking care of your new baby and juggling the new responsibilities that come with motherhood. Make sure you carve out time for your family and friends: ask a relative to watch the baby while you lunch with colleagues and friends,
Anyone who is feeling somewhat depressed and vulnerable may end up isolating themselves and end up losing their connections to their friends and family. Many new mums having post-pregnancy blues are prone to doing this, and it is important that they stay connected to their friends and family no matter how stressed they are. They have to remember they are around to help as well.
2. Ask for help. Mums who have just given birth need all the help they can get around the house. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and try to do everything on your own regardless of how sleep-deprived and stressed you are caring for your new baby. If you haven’t already, you might want to consider tapping on your own mum, in-laws, a helper, or even weekend cleaning services. Alternatively, you might want to consider a confinement nanny especially if this is your first baby.
3. Don’t bottle things up. Express your emotions no matter what they are. Vent to the hubs, your sister, mum or good friend no matter how good, bad, ugly, or intense they are in order to feel heard and relieved at the same time. Keeping feelings in will only worsen the situation.
4. Don’t even think about cooking. If there is a time to eat microwavable food or ordering take-out, this is the time. Mums who have just given birth are not in any shape to cook and should never push themselves to cook either.
5. Ease back into exercising. Exercise is probably the last thought on any new mum’s mind. However, in order to help combat post-pregnancy blues, it is crucial for new mums to start easing back into doing some light exercises each day. They can take brisk walks for 10 minutes a day, eventually increasing it to 30 minutes and so on. It has been proven that exercise helps keep depression at bay because the endorphins which are known as “the happy hormones” are released. That will only help keep depression at bay.
6. Get as much sleep as possible. Having a brand new baby will cause new parents to lose sleep. However, it is crucial for new mums to sleep as much as possible. That goes back again to the first tip of relying on others to help out. New mums must ask trusted friends and family members to watch the baby so they can get some much-needed sleep. If mums are breastfeeding, they can use the breast pump so that others can feed the newborn if necessary.
7. Take time to bond with the new baby. When new mums are experiencing post-pregnancy blues, they may feel detached from the baby and this is completely normal. It is important that they do what they can to bond with the baby by holding and stroking the newborn. This will also help ward off the post-pregnancy blues.
8. Make time for the partner. The one issue that is challenged when a new baby is in the picture is that spouses blame one another for everything due to the stress from caring for a newborn. They will likely have moments of scapegoating and fighting with one another. However, if the new parents take time just for one another, it will help ward off post-pregnancy blues as well. New dads also go through these stressful changes without hormones being in the picture. But they are just as stressed and sleep deprived as new mums.
9. Practice mindfulness and meditation. If you haven’t yet, now might be a good time to go for that meditation or mindfulness class you’ve always wanted to attend. For relaxation on the go, pick out a meditation app or music podcast, plug in your earphones and find your Zen zone.
10. Consult the doctor if the blues worsen and don’t go away. Post-pregnancy blues are normal and do end up easing up around two weeks after giving birth. However, if they become worse and you feel more isolated, depressed, anxious, and even more detached from your baby – talk to your doctor right away. In this situation, these blues are no longer just that. You may be facing postpartum depression which needs to be addressed immediately because it will worsen if neglected. Not sure how to tell the difference? Find out here.
That said, being a new parent triggers many emotions, from bliss to fear, anxiety to exhaustion, depression to mood swings. It can be scary… exciting… life-changing. But remember, millions of other women are going through exactly what you’re undergoing now, so you are not alone.