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Just given birth and can’t stop crying? It might be the baby blues

Have you just had a baby but now you can’t stop crying? Maybe you’re feeling beyond happy to be holding your baby in your arms but you keep snapping at anyone who breathes anywhere near you? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. Here’s everything you need to know about the baby blues and how to cope.

What are the baby blues?

When we talk about the baby blues, we’re talking about a temporary period of time shortly after giving birth. It involves new mothers feeling a range of different emotions at different times. The emotions aren’t necessarily attributable to anything other than the fact you just gave birth.

What causes the baby blues?

The feelings associated with the baby blues are caused by a few different things. First of all, you just gave birth. It’s a huge deal and your body and brain both need time to rest and recover.

There are also lots of hormonal changes going on. In particular, oxytocin (the love hormone which helps during labour) takes a massive nosedive after birth. You’re also dealing with a total lack of sleep, the exhaustion of giving birth, birth recovery and, oh yeah, you’re now also responsible for another human being. It can be very overwhelming.

Who is affected?

The baby blues are really very common. The research shows that up to 80% of women are likely to be affected by the baby blues after giving birth. In other words, you’re very much in the majority if you are feeling a tad low right now.

When do the blues start and how long do they last?

The feelings associated with the baby blues usually start around two or three days after giving birth. The timing usually lines up with your hormones changing after giving birth and when your milk comes in. The symptoms of the baby blues usually fade away on their own within a couple of weeks as the body adjusts to the postpartum period. However, if these feelings intensify or persist for a longer duration, it might be a sign of postpartum depression, which is more severe and requires professional help.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The baby blues are usually characterised by a range of different symptoms. These can include:

  • Mood swings: Feeling happy one moment and teary or sad the next.
  • Anxiety: Feeling anxious or overwhelmed without a clear reason.
  • Sadness: Crying spells or feeling down without a specific cause.
  • Irritability: Feeling easily agitated or irritated over minor things.
  • Trouble sleeping: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep even when the baby is resting.
  • Changes in appetite: Either a decrease or increase in appetite.
  • Feeling overwhelmed: Sensation of being unable to cope with the new responsibilities or adjustments.

It’s important to note that these symptoms are usually mild and tend to resolve on their own within a couple of weeks. Keep in mind that everyone experiences the blues differently. For some, the feelings might pass in waves or, for others, there may be pinch points when the feelings arise unexpectedly and then go just as quickly.

8 ways to manage the baby blues

If you’re not prepared for it, the baby blues can be quite confusing. You’re supposed to feel extremely happy because you finally have your precious baby but you’re also a weeping, irritable mess. Here are 8 ways to help you navigate this bumpy time:

  1. Accept what’s happening: Go easy on yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you’re not feeling super happy. You’ve just gone through a whopper of a life-changing experience and everything is still brand new.  
  2. Don’t overthink: Try not to question things too much or get stuck thinking that this is your life forever. You might start telling yourself stories about why you’re feeling cross or sad but try instead to just let the feeling happen and then pass.
  3. Speak to your loved ones: Tell your partner / family member / friends / support system about the baby blues so they understand more about how you’re feeling. Or even share this article if you don’t feel like talking.
  4. Don’t bottle it up: Talk about how you’re feeling and have a little (or big!) cry whenever you need. Send a voice note to your best friend or write down some of the feelings as they bubble up. Find a way to let it out.
  5. Try and rest when you can. Ask for help from those around you and don’t worry if the non-essential things don’t get done immediately
  6. Get some alone time: You won’t believe how much a bit of time to yourself after giving birth can really give you some perspective and help quite the mind. Put on your fave song, have a hot cup of tea or take a long shower to give yourself a little recharge.
  7. Hydrate: Drink lots of water to so don’t you start to feel dehydrated – especially if there’s been lots of tears!
  8. Eat well: Indulge in some comforting and yummy food. Try and eat as much colour as possible.

What do I do if the feelings aren’t going away?

If symptoms of the baby blues persist longer than two weeks, begin to get worse or you notice that they last all day, then you may be experiencing the beginnings of postpartum depression. If you think that this might be you, definitely don’t hide how you feel.

Speak to your midwife, GP, health visitor or someone you trust about what’s going on and ask them for ways they can help you. Postpartum depression is a lot more common than you think and there are lots of way to improve how you feel.

What are the different symptoms of postpartum depression vs the baby blues?

Here’s a little guide to help you see the different signs and symptoms to look out for:

It’s important to speak to someone if you notice that you’re having persistent low feelings. This is especially so because postpartum depression can last years if there’s no treatment and will often get worse without some form of intervention, such as therapy or antidepressant medication.

What are the different factors between the baby blues and postpartum depression?

The difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression isn’t always immediately obvious. However, there are a few key differences that are important to know about. Postpartum depression is usually characterised by more intense and persistent feelings of sadness. It also usually includes more intense mood swings, feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and difficulty bonding with baby. It’s also important to note that postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks and can last for weeks, months of years.

It’s essential for new mothers and their support systems to be aware of these distinctions and seek help if symptoms persist or worsen, as postpartum depression is a serious condition that requires appropriate care and support.

The time with your baby is so precious so if you are feeling low all the time, know that you’re not alone and that there is help available to you. Speak to your midwife, health visitor, mum, sister, friend – anyone you trust – so that you can start feeling better now.

And if you’ve experienced the baby blues or postpartum depression, drop a comment below to tell us what helped you managed the symptoms.

Sources

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/about-maternal-mental-health-problems/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/

https://www2.hse.ie/babies-children/parenting-advice/health-mental-wellbeing/baby-blues/

https://www.rcog.org.uk/media/3ijbpfvi/maternal-mental-health-womens-voices.pdf

https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.

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