If there was ever an understated metaphor - baby blues is it! Most new moms will tell you that the color scheme of the mood they feel equates more to a deep dark black then a nice shade of blue!
Becoming a new mom can be the most beautiful rewarding experience, whilst at the same time, it can be the most daunting and frightening of your life. Motherhood is a huge life-changing event, and you will feel the entire range of human emotions including, of course, joy and love to fear, panic, and uncertainty.
There is an overwhelming sense of responsibility and our human nature means that most of the time we tend to focus on the negatives - the lack of sleep, the need to get back into shape, the doubts and insecurities of whether or not 'it' is right..... no wonder, post birth, with hormones all over the place, new moms can feel blue.
And it is OK, because, for the most part, it is normal.
That said, we need to be aware and know when it isn't normal
The lasting negative impact of postpartum depression (PPD) on moms, families and child has been well documented over the years. Maternal depression is a pervasive public health problem with substantial economic and health costs.
Like many mental health issues, the hidden taboo of PND, has led to many women suffering unnecessarily alone and frightened and also to silence.
Luckily, times are changing. It isn't once the hidden problem that it once was, with doctors and healthcare professionals being more aware of it and actually being trained to spot the signs in new mothers.
Even celebrities are bearing their souls with many coming out and telling us about their personal battles with PND. Recently, Chrissy Teigen posted on her Instagram account that she too has suffered from bad PND.
The bottom line is that symptoms should not be ignored, there are things that can be done. Novel therapies that leverage evidence based existing dyadic therapies and integrate alternative therapies that address caregiving behaviors influenced by PPD, such as sleep, nutrition, and play, may have synergistic benefits for both mothers and their infants.
In severe situations, medication and counselling may be necessary but often, a simple awareness of what you are going through and some minor changes could help. Here are some of our top tips:
Be Kind To Yourself
Don't underestimate the impact of bringing new life into the world. It took a whopping 9 months to grow this human life inside of you, so don't expect your body to bounce back within a matter weeks. It is going to take some time. So be kind to yourself and be patient.
The deluge of emotions that you will feel when you first become a mom will vary from total euphoria to complete panic and dread. And that can occur within minutes of each other. It is the biggest challenge of your life and what's scarier is that your baby doesn't come with an instruction manual.
Show yourself some compassion. Imagine you are looking at your dearest friend or sister and imagine what you would tell them if they were in the same situation. Your empathy levels would be through the roof of course. Work hard to apply such compassion to yourself.
- Be realistic. Understand that your body needs physical time to repair itself. As does your emotional and mental health.
- Be aware. Feeling your feelings is an important tool. Being mindful and accepting of how you are feeling will help overcome the difficult times.
Do not stay home and wallow. This is the most dangerous, soul-destroying thing you can do for yourself and your baby. The baby blues can be softened if you get out and about. Meet friends, visit mom groups, go to the health center for your baby's check up, etc.
It is so easy for new moms to become isolated at home, taking care of their new babies and all the responsibilities that come along with motherhood.
Try meetups with and without baby. Even if you get your partner, mom, friend to babysit, go ahead and meet you best friend for coffee. Take an hour shopping trip. Spoil yourself.
Don't allow yourself to become isolated.
Sleep, Sleep and Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) sleep is essential for a person's health and wellbeing. Yet millions of us do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation (a real true form of torture!) can be incredibly detrimental to our health. Most new moms will tell you that this is the biggest challenge that they face - just not getting enough sleep or at best, getting broken sleep.
Sleep underpins all aspects of our health; it is when our bodies are designed to recover from the stresses of the day before and to prepare for the stresses of the day ahead.
You must sleep when your baby sleeps. Even if it means skipping housework or social engagements. Try as soon as you can to get your baby into some sort of routine, especially at night time. The sooner you get your baby sleeping through, the more opportunities you will have of sleeping early when baby goes down.
I know, I hear - easier said than done!
But a few weeks of challenging baby sleep training can work wonders in the long run. This is especially true if you have to return to work quite soon after giving birth. Perfecting the bedtime routine, sooner rather than later is better for everyone.
And remember, that the hours before midnight are worth double than those after. So, an 8pm bedtime isn't a bad thing at all every so often.
Here are several other useful tips that could make all the difference to helping you keep sane.
Practical Tips On Beating The Baby Blues
- Make a relaxing bath with oils. Drink delicious herbal teas as opposed to caffeine-laced infusions
- Cut out alcohol - altogether. We know it's tempting to have that glass of wine after a long tough day, but it will not help you anyway. In fact, it is very likely to make you feel 100% worse.
- Eat well. Stick to fresh, healthy, low-fat foods. Snack on pre-cut fruit, dates and nuts. Have a healthy trail mix ready on hand and even take it in your baby bag wherever you go. If you eat quick, fast, junk food that is how you will feel. Take some time to prepare some healthy food for yourself. It is time well spent.
- Be a little selfish, no, actually be really very selfish. Learn how to say no to things that you know aren't necessary or things that you really don't want to do or won't help you in any way. This is one time in your life that you need to ensure that you put yourself first.
- Leave housework - it isn't that important. We're not saying let your house get unhygienic and filthy but we are saying, a little dust on a Monday won't do any harm if it is still there on a Wednesday. Nothing is going to happen. My Great Aunt Mary used to have a 12 pm rule - whatever didn't get done before 12 pm, didn't get done until the next day, she clocked off at 12 concerning housework. I like this idea.
- Get a natural boost. Making sure you are getting all the proper nutrients to build up your physical strength is super important. Whether you are suffering from a migraine or have anxiety, find nutritional supplements to keep you feeling from the inside out.
- Accept help when offered - don't be proud.
- Be positive. Your thought processes affect your emotions which in turn affect your behavior.
Our final note is to let you know that you are not alone. Millions of women are going through/have gone through and will continue going through the same thing. The world keeps turning. Babies keep being born. Gather strength from the knowledge that women are fundamentally strong and you will get through this.
We are warriors.
We are life givers.
We are women.