What exactly is the baby blues?
You may notice a few days after birth that you are constantly crying and your mood is in the basement and you are irritable. This mood is called the baby blues. (APNI 2007, PRODIGY 2008) Presumably it hits you quite unprepared, because shortly before you could have burst with joy, happiness and pride.
The baby blues are so common that you can call them a normal appearance. (MIND 2010, PRODIGY 2008) About eight out of ten mothers notice mood swings after giving birth. (Joy 2012)
These could be your feelings:
- You care about your baby's health, even though he's fine (PRODIGY 2008)
- They are scared
- You can not concentrate
- They are exhausted but can not sleep (PRODIGY 2008)
- They are whiny, without knowing why
What triggers the baby blues?
It is believed that the baby blues are triggered by the hormonal changes that occur in the body of a young mother in the postpartum period (PRODIGY 2008). Her body has undergone some major changes, including the drop in adrenaline levels that were high during birth.
The pregnancy hormones gradually go out of your body as it prepares to produce breast milk (MIND 2010). Your appetite may change, but it's not just physical changes that are happening to you now. Your feelings could also go through some ups and downs. Awareness of the new responsibilities you have for your baby could overwhelm you.
The reality of what parenting actually means will probably become clear to you in the days when you leave the clinic with your baby and spend the first time alone with him. No matter how happy you are about your new role as a mother, there will be moments when you feel stressed and constrained.
Perhaps you are still unsure about caring for your baby and feel a great disillusion after the excitement of childbirth. It may be that you are exhausted, but you still can not sleep well. Then maybe a little nap helps if your baby is asleep too.
How long will I suffer from the baby blues?
You may have the impression that this is your destiny now. (MIND 2010) But that's not the case! Do not despair, it gets better - and very fast. The baby blues is not a disease and will only last a few days or even a few hours. (NHS Choices 2012) It may be worst between the third and fifth day. (PRODIGY 2008)
The Baby Blues disappears by itself in the next few days, so you do not have to go to the doctor. (PRODIGY 2008) With the right mix of recovery and the support of family and friends, you will soon feel better again. (APNI 2007)
However, if you still feel depressed one month after your baby's birth, you may have postpartum depression (PND). (MIND 2010) If you think that might be the case, talk to your midwife or doctor who can offer advice and help.
How can I help a young mother with baby blues?
If you are the partner, relative, or friend, then you assure her that it is quite normal to feel that way. With the following tips you could help her:
- Help them organize their everyday lives and help them decide what to do and what to expect.
- Cook her a nice meal or prepare meals for freezing.
- Make sure she can rest properly.
- Keep telling her that she is a great mother.
- Keep visits to a minimum.
- If you feel like crying, let her cry.
- Listen to her. Massage her with gentle touches if she likes that.
Apni. Of 2007. Post natal depression. The Association of Post Natal Illness.
Joy S. 2012. Postpartum depression. eMedecine.
MIND. Of 2010. Understanding postnatal depression. National Association for Mental Health.
NHS Choices. 2012th Postnatal depression: symptoms. NHS Choices, Health A-Z.
NICE. Of 2006. Routine postnatal care of women and their babies. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Clinical Guideline, 37. London: NICE.
PRODIGY. Of 2008. Depression: antenatal and postnatal. PRODIGY Clarity, Clinical topic.
SIGN. 2012th Management of perinatal mood disorders. Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network, National clinical guidelines, 127