I would like to start this post just by saying the baby blues and postnatal depression are two very different things. Postnatal depression can be a very serious mental illness and if you think you are suffering from it then please speak to your midwife or health visitor about it. While PND is quite common, more mothers tend to suffer with the baby blues than full on depression. I have had both, neither is a nice experience but it can be a lot easier to recover from the baby blues quickly and the symptoms are not quite as severe. Today’s guest post is full of advice on how new mums can cope if they have the baby blues. Sometimes it just takes some self care and support for you to thrive as a new mum. Remember, you’ve just had a baby and you need to be kind to yourself.
How to cope when you have the baby blues
There is something so beautiful about bringing your new baby home from the hospital for the very first time. Those moments of introducing him to his surroundings and settling together on the sofa for the first time are filled with joy – and terror.
For most first time mothers who have just experienced nine months of pregnancy and planning, there is a moment of, “oh, goodness, now what do I do?” It’s not that they didn’t just spend the last three weeks begging the baby to get out, while reading baby books about how to feed/swaddle the baby. It’s not even that they aren’t happy they have a baby at home. The problem is that most mothers picture the gorgeous bundle of joy, and completely forget to picture themselves WITH the baby. That’s where the shock settles in.
You’ve brought your baby home, and you now have to keep them alive, happy, dry, fed and clean. It’s a scary realisation, and often, the baby blues begin with those feelings of being overwhelmed. If you’re very lucky, they don’t develop into postnatal depression. Baby blues are often your reaction to this huge, sweeping life change that you are going through. Nothing is the same anymore from the moment the baby is born and it’s not the fact there is a screaming child in the house who needs round the clock breastfeeding (or so it feels during those cluster stages).
It’s because you’ve just made a whole person, housed them for nine months and now you are ‘Mum’. You have a whole new identity now, and exploring this is scary. It’s okay to admit you’re terrified – it doesn’t make you unhappy or ungrateful. It makes you a parent. So, to combat these baby blues, you need to embrace them. Looking into yoga for anxiety and depression is a good start as you can possibly curb the development of the sadness into full blown PND. The most important thing is that you still carve out time for yourself – and we don’t mean time to shower for five minutes; that’s hygiene, not self-care. If you feel the onslaught of baby blues (ie, you’re constantly weepy, worried, anxious and scared), you need to talk to people. More than that, you need to get proactive. Go for long walks with the pram every day to get out of the house. Join playgroups and parenting clubs to socialise with other mothers in the same boat. Hey, head to those yoga classes two to three times a week. It’s not about the baby weight, but the time you give yourself to be YOU.
You may be a mother now, but you’re still you, and you can balance the two roles you play in your own life by giving yourself permission to feel your feelings. It’s okay to feel weepy and blue that things are changing. For every time you cry, phone someone to talk to them. Eventually, you should start to feel more positive with every “down” day that you have.