Postpartum Blues or the Baby Blues

BABY BLUESHaving a new baby is no doubt one of the most joyous occasions in a mother’s life.  This can however, be a huge emotional rollercoaster to negotiate.  It can bring much joy, but it can also challenge you in ways you never expected.

Most mothers have heard of the “baby blues” or “postpartum blues” and over 90% of women will experience them after giving birth. The baby blues are a normal part of new motherhood. If you have them, there is no cause for undue worry. Aside from the support of your loved ones and plenty of rest, no treatment is necessary. It’s important to know that baby blues are not a sign of personal weakness or failure.

Nurture believes it is vitally important to learn about the baby blues so as to understand what is happening should the baby blues be experienced, helping to alleviate further worries and stress.

When do the “baby blues” occur?

Often the symptoms of “baby blues” will occur within four to five days after the birth of the baby, although depending on how the birth of the baby went, they may be noticeable earlier.

How long do the “baby blues” last?

The symptoms of the “baby blues” normally occur for a few minutes up to few hours each day. These symptoms should lessen and disappear within fourteen days after delivery.

What causes the “baby blues”?

There is no simple or single explanation for what causes the “baby blues” during the postnatal period. Current theories about depression recognise that there are a variety of causes or ‘triggers’ which include biological, psychological, social and environmental factors.

It is thought to be mainly related to the hormone changes that occur during pregnancy and again after a baby is born. These hormonal changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that result in short term depression.

After birth, your body changes rapidly. Your hormone levels drop, your milk comes in and your breasts may become engorged, and you may feel exhausted. These physical realities can bring on the baby blues.

The emotional demands of being a new mother and feeling utterly overwhelmed can also trigger the “baby blues”.  The amount of adjustment that comes after the birth of a baby, along with sleep disturbance, disruption of “routine”, and emotions from the childbirth experience itself can all contribute to how a new mom can feel. You may feel anxious about your new baby’s well-being especially if you are a first time mum.   Sometimes the baby may have a slight health problem such as jaundice or feeding difficulties in the early days. These problems are very common with new babies, but they cause mothers great anxiety.  If you are caring for other children you can feel even more exhausted and emotionally drained.  Stress levels are increased when a baby does not settle easily into routines for feeding and sleeping.  Feelings of shame or worrying about not coping as well as you had expected.  Financial worries may also cause stress to the mother.

What are the Common Symptoms
  • The baby blues often manifest as a mixture of feelings such as anxiety, hopelessness, fear and sadness.
  • Many women feel confused about struggling with sadness after the joyous event of adding a new baby to their family
  • Mothers might cry and not know the reason why.  They may find that it is impossible to cheer up even when they have no reasons to feel this way.
  • Feeling alone and lonely due to not having the necessary support at home.
  • Mothers may be moody, impatient or irritable, feel restless, have trouble concentrating and suffer from insomnia even when the baby is fine and asleep.
  • Minor problems may cause mothers to worry a great deal and feel anxious.
  • Appetite may increase or decrease
  • Feeling totally exhausted and having no motivation to do anything.
You are not alone and it really is okay to talk about it

Whilst mothers are experiencing the baby blues it is necessary they seek as much support as possible.

It is important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings. Be honest with your doctor or health nurse at all your follow up appointments. Remember you are not going to shock them with your feelings. They speak with postpartum women all the time and are the best to evaluate how you are doing, if you are honest about where you are at.

The baby blues do not usually require any medical help and normally only last up between 10 to 14 days. However, if your symptoms last longer than fourteen days or are very severe or if you have additional symptoms — particularly feelings of resentment or rejection toward your baby or even a temptation to harm him it could be an indication of a more serious condition, such as postpartum depression so it is suggested they talk to their GP immediately or call Nurture and talk about the feelings they are experiencing.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please click here to see how to contact us.