How to Manage the Baby Blues
People talk a lot about the Baby Blues, and often they are confused with Postnatal Depression. However, they are two very different things. So what are the Baby Blues, why do they occur and how can you not only survive them, but thrive?
What Are the Baby Blues?
The Baby Blues are a naturally occurring phenomenon and happen to around 80% of new mums. Generally they kick in anywhere from 2 to 10 days post birth. The good news is they usually only last a couple of days.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Tiredness, often accompanied by sleeplessness, no matter how tired you are
- Feeling weepy and crying for little or no reason
- Mood swings and irritability
- Trouble thinking clearly and making simple decisions
- Loss of appetite
Whilst we don’t know why some women suffer from the Baby Blues and others don’t, we do have a pretty good idea of the causes and contributing factors:
- In the days following birth the hormones your body is producing fluctuate wildly, and these hormones control your mood to a large extent
- Following pregnancy and birth your body is often depleted of much needed nutrients, adding to the tiredness you will feel as a consequence of disturbed sleep
- If your birth was difficult, or did not go according to plan, you may be feeling disappointment, guilt or even resentment
- Worry about things other than the baby, like money, jobs and family or relationships
What You Can Do
Typically, the Baby Blues don’t require intervention and will resolve themselves once your hormones settle and you find a routine. However there are a few things you can do to lessen their impact.
- Eat well. Pregnancy will have depleted your body of a range of nutrients and the sooner you replenish them the better you will feel. There are also certain foods which contain nutrients that help balance hormones. These include lean proteins, leafy greens, eggs, avocados, almonds and cashews, flax, pumpkin, and chia seeds. And it’s important to stay hydrated. Particularly if you are breast feeding.
- Sleep. Yes, it sounds simple. But it’s not always so easy with a new baby. If you can, sleep when baby does. Don’t worry about the washing or the dusting – it will all still be there when you feel a little more on top of things.
- Fresh Air and Exercise. If the weather permits, put baby in a sling or a pram and go for a walk. Even if it’s just around the block. You will both benefit from the experience and you’ll feel better having escaped the house. Especially if the washing is piling up.
- Accept Help. Family and friends are almost always willing to help with a preparing a nutritious meal, doing a load of washing, or watching the baby while you get some rest.
- Make some time for yourself. This is particularly useful if you feel yourself missing your ‘old life’ (don’t feel guilty – it’s not unusual to feel this way). Even if you can only carve out 20 minutes to read, watch an episode of your favourite sitcom or disappear down the YouTube rabbit hole, do something you enjoyed pre-baby.
- Find a good Doula. An experienced Doula is trained at helping manage the Baby Blues and can not only provide physical and nutritional support, but a sympathetic and experienced ear for you to confide in.
Finally, cut yourself some slack. Don’t try to live up to some impossible standard of perceived ‘perfection’. Every new mum struggles with aspects of adjusting to parenthood, so don’t be fooled by the Insta-worthy impressions presented by others.
How to Tell if it’s Something More
As I mentioned earlier, the Baby Blues generally last no more than a few days. If you notice any of the following symptoms it may be a sign of something deeper like Postnatal Depression.
- If your low mood doesn’t lift for more than two weeks
- If there is no light and shade in your day – with the Baby Blues you will generally have moments of happiness, even if they are fleeting
- If you begin to experience these feelings more than two weeks after the birth of your baby, at any time in the first year after birth.
Postnatal Depression should be taken seriously, and you should contact your health care provider or community health nurse as soon as possible if you have concerns. You might also like to check out The Gidget Foundation.
If you feel in imminent danger of harming yourself or your baby, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14,
One Last Thing…
It’s not only birthing mums who can suffer from Baby Blues. Partners can also experience a bout of blues after the birth of a new baby, so it’s important to keep an eye on each other.
If you are pregnant of have just given birth and are concerned about how to manage the Baby Blues, I would love to help. Please give me a call on 0422 258 771, or contact me here for a chat: