Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression
During pregnancy every mother anticipates her baby’s arrival with expecting life ahead filled with happiness and love. After the baby’s arrival, baby blues are generally taken as unexpected and uninvited part of motherhood.
Baby blues is used to describe feelings like sadness, moodiness, irritability or hopelessness for few days to few weeks after the baby’s birth and is experienced by almost 70-80% of mothers.
First time or repeat mothers generally feel the baby blues for these possible reasons:
- During the period of recovery from childbirth, the mother may feel helpless and dependent on others, but from inside she may want to get back to normal quickly and care for her newborn.
- She may be overwhelmed by the responsibility of handling the new baby
- Hormonal changes in the body after delivery are also known to cause mood swings.
- Not getting enough sleep and rest may also make her feel irritated and tired.
- She may not be sharing her feelings with family and friends, and may feel bottled up with emotions inside.
- Staying alone with the baby for many hours or days at a stretch.
- Lack of support.
- Feeling unhappy about her appearance.
If you feel something similar, there is nothing to worry about, and what you feel is absolutely normal and happens with most parents. These feelings will eventually subside as soon as you get into a regular routine, get practice and get used to caring for the baby and get adjusted to the new life. Watching your newborn grow is a reward for your hard work, and your little one is worth it.
For beating baby blues, moms need to communicate and ask for help. Talking to anyone who is a good listener and who is willing to help is one good way. Family and friends should therefore try to talk to a mother and help her express herself by being good listeners. During breastfeeding or bottle feeding, moms can watch something interesting on TV (while holding the baby securely and comfortably), though anything which engages your hands while breastfeeding like a book or a handheld is not recommended.
Getting enough sleep is also important for good health, and for a relaxed and rejuvenated mind. Sometimes when the baby is awake and needs to be breastfed, moms can use the side lying position to breastfeed and relax during that time. It’s generally recommended to sleep when the baby sleeps, but if this is not possible, parents can take turns in baby care while other parent can catch up on sleep. Babies often get into a regular sleep routine by 3-4 months of age. Hiring someone to help around the house also proves helpful.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
The extension of baby blues beyond 4-6 weeks after delivery, and worsening of the feelings can be a sign of PPD. Women suffering from PPD may feel easily irritated, may have difficulty bonding with their infant and thoughts of harming the baby or themselves, may have difficulty sleeping, may have a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness and general loss of interest in life and activities. PPD can be mild to severe and extreme cases are considered as postpartum psychosis.
Mothers prone to developing PPD are usually those who had earlier phases of depression in their lives, PPD in previous pregnancies, single mothers, those who have marital problems or lack of support. But PPD can also happen to a happy and healthy woman with all the support and a comfortable life!
Moms should not feel hesitant to undergo treatment for PPD, as that is beneficial for the mother as well as the infant. Postpartum depression should be treated as soon as possible because a depressed mother is unable to properly care for herself and her baby, and this can have a negative effect on their health and overall well being.
Mild to severe PPD can be successfully cured by medication, counseling and psychotherapy. Some of the medications used to cure PPD are safe for nursing mothers.