Many brand-new mums feel perplexed and confused about struggling with this intense feeling of sadness after the joyous event of having a baby and often don’t talk about it… to anyone.
A topic that used to be taboo for fear of judgement, the ‘baby blues’ is now so common – experiencing it is now considered ‘normal’, with nearly 9 out of every 10 new mums feeling the effects between 3 days and 3 weeks of giving birth. Yep, with statistics like these it is pretty safe to say that you can assume that getting the ‘blues’ is pretty much a certainty! And when these hormones DO go into overdrive, you could expect to feel teary, moody, tired & anxious, not to mention an overwhelming feeling of fear and uncertainty. Well that certainly is a lot to look forward to – isn’t it? The great news is, the baby blues doesn’t last. Usually at around 3 weeks, the planets align and everything starts to go back to normal. Hormones, emotions, sleep – it all settles down – and generally so does the way you feel. Woo Hoo!
But just because it usually dissipates, doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it. Quite the contrary.
You definitely should be aware of how to proactively deal with the baby blues to ensure that this common occurrence doesn’t develop into post-partum depression, but we will explore that another time. For now, let’s look at the list for how you can best ‘blitz the blues’ and get on with enjoying your new family!
- Talk about the way you are feeling! Do not be under the assumption that you appear ‘weak’ if you ‘speak’. When your partner understands your feelings and emotions, they can help.
- Ask for help & accept it. In my ‘Bringing Baby Home Video Program’ we go through some information, hints and tips that will truly help the NON ‘bluesy’ partner to understand this temporary reality, and we also guide them (gently of course) into some essential things they can do to really support you through this time. So, with that said, ask and ye shall receive. Sometimes getting help with the little things, helps to avoid a BIG thing from developing.
- Rest, rest, rest. Lie on the couch and shut your eyes at every opportunity. Resting is NOT indulgent – it is ESSENTIAL to get these hormones back into alignment! If you want to move through this stage relatively unscathed, you need to rest. The nappies can be folded later. Remember, rest regulates hormones!
- Meditation, mindfulness or music. Did you know that just a few minutes of meditation or mindfulness exercises (both available from downloadable Apps) can do more in resetting your mind, body and spirit in 10 minutes than 2 hours of sleep? (there is lots of different claims on this, but this statistic seems to be the most populara, so I’m going with it) But you might be thinking – 10 minutes too hard to find? Ok, try just 2 minutes. Research tells us that even a couple of minutes in mindfulness / meditation is beneficial. And if you think that is all too much mumbo – jumbo, then why not try listening to your favourite playlist with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Either way, your brain gets a rest, and you get to heal! Winner!
- Physical touch and massage. “Nothing is as healing as the human touch”. Preemie babies thrive on skin to skin contact, babies are soothed with touch, children comforted with hugs and according to psycologytoday.com, adults require human touch to thrive! We need to have physical contact to survive, but it also has therapeutic qualities in that Cortisol is the body’s response to stress, and massage therapy lowers it by as much as 50%. At the same time, massage provides many benefits and can also increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are both neurotransmitters that help stabilize your mood. Ok – enough facts, now onto action! Of course a post pregnancy massage for every new mum is an essential gift if you are stuck for a present to give, but this is where the Dads come into play. A daily 15-minute massage by Dad will do more than just ‘feel good’ for his newly parented wife! Trust me. It will help to reset hormones and get you on the road to normality quicker than you can say ‘baby can you please rub my feet’?
- Eat well – drink well. This goes without saying. Food is not only fuel – food is medicine. When your hormones are haywire, great nutrition is key. Limiting highly processed foods, caffeine and alcohol combined with increasing nutrient dense foods, will give your body the best platform to survive and thrive this challenging yet TEMPORARY time of tribulation! And while you are at it, a good walk everyday in the sunshine boosts levels of serotonin – the body’s natural happy hormone. That’s why we tend to feel happier and more energetic when the sun shines. Regular sun can stave off moderate depression and alleviate symptoms of the baby blues, particularly if combined with light exercise, such as a walk in the park.
So, there you have it. 6 simple solutions that will not stop the baby blues, but give you the best opportunity to heal effectively and most importantly, minimises your risks for this ‘normal’ situation to develop into post-partum depression. And always remember, the best gift you can give your baby is a strong relationship between the 2 of you.
Kylie-Jo Elliott – Relationship After Baby