I tried to busy myself, using my fork to aimlessly move the food around my dinner plate in an effort to conceal what was inevitably coming. It seemed like my heart was pumping louder than ever but then again, I thought the same thing yesterday. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, doubt and fear clouded my heart as my newborn son slept peacefully in his bouncer a few feet away. “Keep it together”, my brain silently scolded me. But it wasn’t enough. My usually calm and collected personality had been seemingly replaced by an emotional train wreck.
“What’s wrong?’ my husband asked as he stared at me in bewilderment, tears streaming down my cheeks and onto my dinner. The truth is, I had no idea what was wrong. In fact, everything was going very well. Our four day old son, despite being born at 35 weeks, was remarkably healthy. Breastfeeding was going okay, my surgical incision was healing and my mom was in town to help for a week. We were a new family; everything I had ever wanted was right before my eyes. So why was I so sad?
We took our son to his first doctor’s appointment at 5 days old. I remember listening to the pediatrician discussing the typical new parent information…a vaccination schedule, our next appointment, sleep patterns, etc. when he suddenly turned to look at me directly.
“How are you feeling, Mom?”
I looked at my feet and muttered a painfully unconvincing “Okay”, knowing that if I looked him in the eyes I would probably burst into tears.
“Try taking your son for a daily afternoon walk. It will help clear your head and will be good for the baby’s mild jaundice. The baby blues are very common within the first two weeks of birth and seem to be triggered in the afternoon. If it persists after a couple of weeks, let your OBGYN know because it can become postpartum depression.”
For the first time in the last few days, I had a moment of clarity. I’m not going insane. I’m not a terrible person. I’m not an inadequate mother. I have the baby blues. I have the baby blues.
Being the 21st century mother that I am, I immediately turned to my good friend Google as soon as I got home. Here is what I found:
How common are the “baby blues”?
- It is estimated that 60-80% (that’s a lot!) of new mommas experience some negative feelings after their baby’s birth.
- Symptoms will usually come to the surface within 5 days after birth or earlier depending on how the birth went.
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Poor concentration
- An exact cause has not been pinpointed however, it is thought to be related to hormonal changes. Also, the general changes and adjustment of a daily routine can contribute to how a new momma may feel.
- They usually vary between a few minutes and a few hours daily, slowly disappearing within fourteen days after the child’s birth
Any tips for new moms dealing with the “baby blues”?
- Try to maintain a well balanced diet. Juggling household duties, caring for other children and cooking can all be hard to manage in the adjustment period. Take care of yourself and try to eat well. Which brings me to my next point…
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If it feels like it’s overwhelming, that’s because it probably is. Family and friends are definitely great sources if you have them available!
- Talk about your feelings with someone you can trust. Even though I’m sure my husband was just as lost as I was regarding my feelings, he listened to me and was understanding. Sometimes all we need is to say things out loud to really feel better.
- Change your view! Go outside and get some fresh air. Staying cramped in your living quarters filled with diapers, bottles and all things baby can become depressive. Take your baby for a walk or hangout on the patio, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
- Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms persist. The baby blues may develop into post partum depression, which is more serious and requires attention from a medical professional.
Did you experience the “baby blues”? If so, how did you cope?