In the days after giving birth, many new mothers expect to feel relief and happiness, but find themselves struck by what some now refer to as the “baby blues.” This feeling of tearfulness, irritability, anxiety and general low mood generally lasts from a few days up to several weeks. This can come as a shock to some, but is actually experienced by up to 70% of new mothers. Being aware and proactive can help you beat this miserable feeling, and prevent the onset of a more serious case of postpartum depression.
Let it out
Talk to others as much as you can about the way you’re feeling. Be open with your partner, family and friends, and cry as much as you feel you need to. Ask for the support you need, and you may be surprised by just how understanding people can be. If you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities, ask others to help with housework, cooking and basic practical tasks that need to get done, so you can focus on resting and getting to know your little one.
Is it postnatal depression?
If things don’t begin to feel better within a couple weeks, you should consider speaking to your doctor. Postnatal depression is more severe than “baby blues”, although it may begin with similar symptoms. If you experience an overall loss of interest in daily activities and stop experiencing joy at things that used to make you happy, have unusual changes in your appetite or feel an overall sense of fatigue, guilt and worthlessness, you may be experiencing the beginnings of postnatal depression. In its most severe forms, thoughts of death and suicide may occur.
These feelings can be frightening, but postnatal depression is relatively common and can be treated if you ask for help. Talk therapies, medication and extra support can all help you to get back to normal, and the earlier you reach out, the easier it will be to treat.