The “Baby Blues” - When hormones and stress take their toll

 

The “baby blues” affect up to 80% of new mothers in the few days after child-birth – you may feel teary, oversensitive, moody and irritable. It is so common that it is considered to be a normal part of childbirth.

 

It is related to the massive hormonal changes you experience as pregnancy hor-mones leave your body and new hormones arrive to promote breast milk produc-tion. And then there is all the stress associated with labour, childbirth and the exhaustion of being a new parent. Your body and mind have some major adjust-ments to make – both physically and emotionally.

 

The good news is that it disappears as quickly as it arrives. Most mums feel their worst sometime between the third and fifth day after the baby is born, then it clears up in a few days, with no other treatment except rest, support and under-standing.

 

Adjusting to Early Parenthood

 

The reality of parenthood can be overwhelming. Caring for a new baby, especially in the first year, is a constant and demanding job. It is an emotional rollercoaster - usually involving the exhaustion of sleepless nights, helplessness when baby cries and the uncertainty of not knowing what to do. You may feel guilty or anxious if your baby is particularly unsettled or if you have feeding problems. So it can be hard to tell whether your feelings are ‘normal’.

 

The following tips can help you make the most of early parenthood and cope with stress:

 

  • Accept help – Involve your partner and family in the care of your baby from the beginning. Just because you are Mum doesn’t mean to have to do everything for your baby! And it’s ok if helpers do things differently – your baby will be fine.

 

  • Consider your own needs as well the baby's needs. You need to look after yourself so you can look after your baby. Ensure you allow some time for yourself – and use the time to do the little things you enjoy (e.g. read, have a

bath, listen to music).

 

  • Share the household chores as much as possible. Your house doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’! It's much more important to do something fun with your baby, like cuddling or playing.

 

  • Try to maintain a basic routine – Simply getting showered and dressed each morning may help you feel a bit better.

 

  • Dont bottle up feelings – Sometimes just talking with your support network of friends, family and professionals can help put things into perspective.

 

  • Realise that it takes time to learn to be a parent – and you will learn as you go.

Try not to be too hard on yourself. Instead, remind yourself that you are doing a great job!

 

  • Look after your physical health – your emotions are linked to your sense of physical wellbeing.

 

  1. Eat well - even though you may not feel like eating, try to at least eat small healthy snacks and include fruit and vegetables, milk, wholegrain bread and lots of water in your diet.

 

  1. Plan some enjoyable physical activity every day – anything is going to help!

Start with easy tasks and activities and be flexible with your plans. Try to plan things with other people to motivate you to get moving – this helps on those days when it seems hard to do anything.

 

  1. Get some rest - although a good night’s sleep is almost impossible with a new baby, take every available opportunity to nap (e.g. when the baby is asleep or when some-one else can look after the baby) and go to bed at a sensible time each night.

 

  1. Practice stress-management techniques – such as deep breathing and

 

relaxation exercises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Natal Depression (PND) affects one in seven mums at any time during the first year after their baby is born.

 

But the fact is that postnatal depression is simply a complication of pregnancy and childbirth – a medical condition that needs medical treatment.

 

So if you are one of the many women who is putting on a brave face and is trying to hide how you feel, it is likely that you are feeling very alone. But help IS out there – you just need to take the first step and recognise that your feelings may actually be symptoms

 

If you have experienced some of the following symptoms for two weeks or more, it’s time to seek advice – your GP, child health nurse, or midwife can help.

 

 

Symptoms of Post Natal Depression may include:

 

  • Persistently feeling sad or "empty"
  • Feeling hopeless or like a failure
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Often close to tears or crying a lot
  • Feeling angry, irritable or resentful (e.g. at partner or your other children)
  • Feeling unmotivated and unable to cope with the daily routine
  • Social withdrawal (from friends and family)
  • Loss of pleasure from things you used to enjoy
  • Decreased energy or feeling exhausted*
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions*
  • Sleeping too much OR not enough, having nightmares
  • Overeating, OR appetite loss
  • Not looking after yourself or your baby properly
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, or wanting to escape

 

*These symptoms can also result from a lack of sleep — which often happens when you have a new baby.


 


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.