New parenthood is often depicted as being filled with snuggly days that are all spent happily falling in love with a newborn. While you might already feel a strong bond with your little one, the truth is that many women discover that being a new parent isn’t always as rosy as those images on diaper commercials–and that’s okay!
The newborn period is filled with sleepless nights and tons of extra housework. Your mind and body may also still be reeling from the effects of pregnancy, labor and delivery. This can be a really difficult time!
If you’ve noticed that you just don’t feel as happy as you thought you should, then know that you aren’t alone. Approximately 85% of women will experience some type of mood disturbance during the postpartum period.
While many of these women will recover and feel happy soon after, it helps to know when you might need to seek professional help.
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Advice From an Expert: Are These Feelings Normal?
You’ll often hear the mood swings that you might be experiencing after childbirth as being referred to as the “baby blues.”
In many cases, you can simply chalk your rapidly fluctuating emotions up to changes in your body’s hormones. During pregnancy, your body produces extra hormones to help it support your developing baby.
After delivery, your body starts working immediately on restoring your body’s hormones to normal levels, and there are even more changes as your body prepares for breastfeeding.
Typically, normal baby blues appear within the first few days after giving birth and go away within one to two weeks. During this time period, you might find yourself crying for what feels like no reason or even lashing out at your partner.
While this is upsetting, you should also experience some happier times and feel generally glad that you had your baby. If you feel like you are experiencing something deeper than basic postpartum blues, PLEASE reach out to your medical team as soon as possible.
What Can You Do to Get Over Normal New Baby Blues?
Time works wonders for easing the mood swings that come with the baby blues.
Sometimes, you simply need to give yourself permission to feel frustrated as you attempt to develop a new routine, and you might have to admit that anyone can feel a little cranky when they are running on no sleep.
If you feel like your baby blues are disrupting your life, then you have a few ways to find relief.
For the moment, consider taking up your friends’ and family members’ offers to provide you with help. Let them know if they can pick up a few groceries on their way to visit the baby, or let your parents hold your baby while you get a much-needed shower.
Practicing self-care is an effective way to help you get your mood swings under control. Life often seems easier when you’re freshly showered and have had an opportunity to eat!
What Is Postpartum Depression?
There are times, however, when what seems like normal baby blues is more than just a few moody days.
Postpartum depression is a mental health condition that arises after you’ve had your baby. Typically, the symptoms of postpartum depression show up shortly after you give birth, but it could occur at any point during the first year of your baby’s life.
Postpartum depression causes a list of symptoms that can vary from one person to another. You might even notice that your symptoms change over time.
If you have postpartum depression, then you may go through prolonged periods of sadness or feel overwhelmed by your new daily routine. You may also cry more frequently than you did in the past or feel angry.
Some women experience thoughts of harming themselves or their baby, which is a sign that you need to seek help immediately.
Unfortunately, women with postpartum depression are also at a higher risk for developing a substance misuse problem that can interfere with their ability to parent their newborn.
Making the decision to seek help makes it possible to avoid complications from postpartum depression and begin to renew your sense of happiness and general wellbeing. Please seek help if you need it; there is absolutely no shame in doing so.
When Should You Worry About Feeling Unhappy After Giving Birth?
If you feel a little moody or blue during the first few days or weeks after giving birth, you can rest assured that this might just be normal.
But you’ll want to stay alert for signs that you are developing postpartum depression that requires professional treatment.
If you still feel sad or lose interest in your normal activities after two weeks, you might need a professional assessment to determine if you are developing postpartum depression.
If you’re dealing with this common condition, then it helps to know that it IS possible to feel normal again.
Some women need to take medication to help stabilize their mood. You may benefit from therapy that helps you get to the underlying reasons for your depression. In both cases, taking the opportunity to address your emotions helps you to begin enjoying being a new parent.
Women today are becoming more open about the ups and downs that accompany parenthood. Yet, there is still much more that needs to be done to make it clear that it is perfectly normal to experience a few challenging emotions after you give birth!
Feeling a little sad now and then might be normal, but you’ll also want to remember that reaching out for help is a sign of strength. Letting the people around you know that you are feeling depressed makes it possible to learn new strategies that can help restore your joy in being a new parent.
Have you wondered whether it’s normal to not be happy after giving birth? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
|Dr.Harshi Dhingra is an Associate Professor in Pathology at the Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Bathinda.