This interesting piece was contributed by Jackie Edwards who is a freelance writer. Here, she discusses baby blues, postnatal depression (postpartum depression) and the differences.
If you have recently welcomed a new addition to the family, then you don’t need to be told what a life changing experience it is. In fact, there are not really any words to describe the effect that it has on your physical, mental and emotional state. The subjects of postnatal depression and the baby blues are topics that are often mentioned, but seldom really understood. Here we discuss both conditions and talk about coping strategies such as counselling and accepting assistance to help you adjust to life as a parent.
The first thing to understand is that baby blues and postnatal depression are not the same thing. What is known as the baby blues is a condition experienced by over half of new mums and the good news is that there are some great techniques to help you through the baby blues – the symptoms usually disappear after a couple of weeks. Postnatal depression, on the other hand affects around one in 10 mums, can go on much longer and exhibits more severe symptoms.
About the Baby Blues
Just days after giving birth, there is a good chance you will find yourself bursting into tears at the slightest thing, or indeed for no reason whatsoever. It’s probably the last thing you expect to be doing at such a happy time, and some mums even feel guilty for feeling anything less than unbridled joy after the safe arrival of their baby. But remember, these feelings are completely normal, and if you do not experience the baby blues, you are in a very lucky minority.
The condition is brought about by a variety of factors. Physiologically, it is linked to the changes in hormone levels in your body during the days immediately after giving birth. Do not underestimate the huge ordeal your body has been through during pregnancy and childbirth – and now you are expecting it to produce breast milk too!
And of course, all this comes at a time when you are excited, nervous, struggling to get enough sleep and trying to come to terms with a whole new definition to the word “responsibility.” When you think about it, it’s enough to make anyone a bit weepy.
Beating the Blues
Counselling can help you adjust to this transitional period of becoming a parent. You may want to talk through fears you have about being a mother, or a shift in feelings towards your partner or other children. Perhaps you are worried about time outside of work, or you may just feel traumatised by a difficult labour. Whatever is on your mind, it is important that you talk it through.
It is essential also to accept the help that so many people will be offering. Some mums feel that if they do not do everything themselves from the word go, they are in some way failing. In fact, all they are doing is putting themselves under unnecessary stress and making this unique time an ordeal.
Also, remember, people offer help because they want to. Make sure your partner, parents, in-laws and even other kids, if you have them, get the opportunity to feel involved. Despite parents joking that the first 30 years of parenthood are the most difficult, the “chaos phase” is actually very short, and before you know it, you will be in a steady routine. Don’t try to do it all yourself, and let others join in so that the chaos becomes fun and is the stuff that great memories are made of.
If Symptoms Persist
Baby blues are a part of that chaotic phase that will pass within 14 days of giving birth. If your symptoms persist or get worse beyond this time, you may be suffering from postnatal depression. This is by no means uncommon, but if you are worried, remember you are not alone, and speak to your doctor.