Is it Baby Blues or Post Partum Depression?

December 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Education

For many women, the days after birth are filled with a lot of mood changes. Some women find they feel weepy without any definite reason. Some women notice a change in their appetites. A few women notice they cannot sleep even when very tired; others may feel like sleeping much more than before. In the first weeks after birth, lots of women speak of feeling overwhelmed with the work of caring for a baby. Some women say they felt their lives would never return to a normal routine.

All of these feelings and changes are normal. They are sometimes called the baby blues. They are part of the first few days and weeks after birth for many new mothers. These feelings can be caused by rapid changes in your body after birth. The “baby blues” also come from seeing the kind of responsibility that a parent has. Even when you have thought a lot about caring for a baby, the reality of what a job that is does not really hit most parents until the first few days at home.

The baby blues may be eased by limiting what you do – giving yourself time to get used to this new job, just taking care of yourself and your baby and getting as much rest as possible. Often, that is easier to say than do. Taking care of a baby is a 24 hour a day job. One new mother said, “On a good day with my baby, I found time to brush my teeth.” That gives you some idea of how full your days will be in the first weeks.

Signs of true depression are different from the baby blues. Women who have true depression can feel sad day after day, often feel overwhelmed by anxiety and may not have the energy to care for themselves or their babies. This kind of depression is a serious problem when not treated. If you notice any of those signs, call your doctor, midwife or a public health nurse. Any of those people will be able to help you work through your feelings or get you in touch with others who have skill in working with mothers experiencing depression.

Be Good To Yourself

Here are some tips on easing your adjustment to your new role:

  • Plan Ahead. Most new parents say that the evening meal time is the most difficult time of the day. While still pregnant, prepare and freeze some meals that will only require heating up. This can make meal times much less hectic in the first couple of weeks.
  • If possible, invite a friend or family member to spend the first week or so at home with you. This person???s job should be to take care of household tasks. That is better for you than letting others take care of your baby while you do household tasks. If you prefer not to have anyone stay, don???t be afraid to ask for occasional help. If friends or family are willing, let them bring over a few meals or do the laundry or shopping.
  • Stay in a robe or nightgown for the first week at home. This reminds you and others in your home that you are giving yourself time to recover. Be good to yourself – let unimportant things wait! Rest whenever your baby does.
  • Take your phone off the hook during rest periods.
  • Limit visitors for at least the first 2 weeks. It is fun to have others admire your baby with your – but it is also tiring for both you and your baby.
  • Fathers can be as good at caring for a baby as mothers, but men need a chance to learn, just as women do. Let dad do things his way – as long as they are safe. New mothers hate having someone watching and giving advice every moment – and so do new fathers.
  • If you find yourself feeling down or getting angry with your baby, look for help. Never pick up your baby when you are angry. Give yourself time . . . count to 20 slowly, wait until you can pick your baby up gently and lovingly. If you are having a very hard time and are afraid you might hurt your baby, call for help. Many communities have crisis counseling that you can call 24 hours a day. Looking for and getting help is so much better than trying to go it alone – and is a sign of what a loving parent you are working to become.
Tags: Postpartum depression, Obstetrics, Infancy, Infant, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Maternity blues

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