If you’re having a baby soon, or you’ve just had a baby, you deserve extra special attention. The major life changes those
bundles of joy bring with them, combined with the rapidly fluctuating hormones as your new body transitions, may put you at risk for the postpartum blues. The stress of a prolonged pandemic and decreased social support certainly don’t help either.
FYI: Postpartum blues are different from postpartum depression, so don’t be alarmed. Just because you have one does not mean they’ll lead to the other. However, tending to the postpartum blues and remaining aware can help reduce your risk of postpartum depression. The stress of a prolonged pandemic and decreased social support certainly don’t help either.
Postpartum depression (PPD) symptoms last for longer than three weeks and deserve immediate call to your medical provider. PPD is characterized by:
● More intense sadness, depression, anger, anxiety, etc., and lasting more than a few weeks
● Difficulty bonding with your baby
● Excessive crying
● Unconsolable fear you’re not a good mother
● Not able to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping all of the time
● Panic attacks
● Thoughts of harming yourself and/or your baby
If any of these apply to you or someone you love, you are not alone. Your healthcare provider is standing by ready to help,
or you can also contact the Postpartum Support International (PSI) online or by calling 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)- #1 En Español or #2 English.
First and foremost, know that you are not alone. Our experience shows that 50% or more of new moms experience some degree
of postpartum blues. The main cause is the dramatic decrease in maternal hormones after delivery. Then, there is the general fatigue and physical effects of carrying a baby for nine months and going through labor and delivery. Also, your postpartum baby is gearing up to make milk and synchronize feeding and sleep with your newborn – which can be a feat unto itself.
Let’s not forget that you just brought a brand-new little human into your home – one that depends on you for its every need. That’s no easy thing.
Some of the most common signs of postpartum blues are:
Pay attention to how you are feeling on days 3, 4, and into that first week or two. The initial shock and awe of labor and
delivery are supported by hormones that flood you with some pain relief and a certain sense of euphoria. However, as those hormones wear off, you are more likely to sink a bit, leading to the signs and symptoms of the postpartum blues.
The media paints a mostly rosy picture of the postpartum period. New mothers are bathed in a rosy light, and they just can’t
get enough of their newborns. You hear things like, “I never knew what love was before I looked into my newborn’s face…”. We’re here to tell you that those idyllic pictures are not the case for the majority.
It can take time to truly form a bond with your newborn, and this can be shocking to moms who expect to feel immediately
in love and connected. Instead, you are tired and losing sleep. Just remember- you and your baby have just met each other and are getting used to one another, learning the new rhythm of the baby being out in the real world. And have we mentioned fluctuating hormones?
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself tearful and crying “for no reason.” This is very common. In most cases, the tears will slow down and may stop altogether by week two or three. Let your pediatrician know how you’re doing so they can keep their finger on the pulse of your emotions. If your tears don’t more or less subside by week three, check-in again.
A chronic feeling of fatigue is the norm for new parents. You knew sleepless nights were ahead, but nothing could prepare
you for the reality. That constant feeling of fatigue and tiredness is a new normal until you’ve established a sleep rhythm.
Despite the laundry piling up, we can’t tell you how much we encourage you to sleep or at least rest when baby sleeps.
Friends, families, or a weekly postpartum doula visit can take care of the chores – your job is to take care of you.
Maternity leave is mostly designed to support new parents, so they have uninterrupted time with their babies. However, it’s
also a truth that most new moms will struggle with any work requiring a clear and quick-firing brain. So again, it’s the combination of hormonal fluctuations and lack of sleep.
The frustration of feeling like you can’t do what you used to do can contribute to the postpartum blues or exacerbate your
tears and sadness. We promise this too shall pass, but it will take a little bit.
It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or that you’ve had a baby before. Anxiety and feelings of restlessness are
totally normal. Every baby is different, and a real baby is much different than the one you imagine when they’re tucked quietly and portably in your womb.
As with most of the symptoms of postpartum blues, the most intense feelings of anxiety and restlessness will start to fade
after two to three weeks. At that point, hormones will begin to regulate a bit, and you’ll start to feel more in control of your life again.
First, know the difference between postpartum blues and postpartum depression (PPD). They aren’t the same. The former should
begin to recede after a few weeks. Yes, you’ll still cry sometimes, feel anxious, and tiredness/fatigue will probably stick around for a while. However, all of those will begin to feel more manageable. If you are past the three-week mark and those blues are taking over, it’s time to seek support from your pediatrician or general physician.
Some of the most common ways to cope with postpartum blues are:
● Be honest with your partner, spouse, a good friend, etc., about how you’re feeling. Just expressing it can be a huge relief.
● Get rest as much as possible.
● Resist the urge to put on a show of “how great new momhood is.”
● Get help with errands, chores, meals, etc. Take advantage of all of those who say, “let us know how we can help…”
● Connect with others after that initial week or so. A new mom’s group can be your best ally.
Again, reach out to your physician or pediatrician if postpartum blues haven’t subsided by three to four weeks, or if
you’re struggling to cope.
The team at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest is always on the lookout for patients suffering from postpartum blues or PPD. In fact, you can expect us to ask a few questions about how you’re coping during your baby’s first several visits. We are here to walk beside you, so please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know about your concerns.