Baby Blues
Mild Depression After Giving Birth

postnatal depression

woman feeling blue after childbirth

Feeling Blue?

Contents

What Are The Baby Blues?
How Is It Different To Postpartum Depression?
What Are The Symptoms of Baby Blues?
What Causes It?
How Is It Treated?
When To Seek Help


What Are The Baby Blues?

The baby blues refers to a mild form of depression which hits up to 85 percent of new moms after childbirth. It can last for as little as a few hours or up to several days. This type of depression has been affectionately labeled the baby blues although there is nothing much cute about it. It can cause you to feel weepy, stressed, vulnerable, sad and worried. These emotions are unexpected because, well, isn’t a baby supposed to make you happy not miserable? Contrary to popular myth the baby blues are not more likely in first time moms, and the method of childbirth delivery (epidurals or other painkillers) does not seem to make any difference. The symptoms occur out of the blue and disappear again just as quickly.

What Is The Difference Between Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression?

Baby blues is a much milder and temporary form of depression than postpartum depression (PPD). If the baby blues does not clear within 2 weeks, it may have developed into PPD.

Baby Blues Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Affects up to 85 percent of new moms. Affects between 10 and 20 percent of new moms.
Can start within minutes of childbirth and typically peaks between days 3 and 5 of the postpartum period. Usually only starts after the mother has left hospital but may take up to 6 to 8 weeks to occur.
Feels instantly ‘blue’ and depressed. May initially feel extra happy in the days following childbirth, to the point of giddiness. This is the high before the low.
Symptoms last a few hours to several days. If they persist every day for more than 2 weeks it is considered PPD. Symptoms of postpartum depression can last months, even years if untreated. Take the postpartum depression test.
You still feel like yourself - although you may be exhausted and cry for no reason, you don’t feel lost. Ask yourself do you feel like yourself? If you look in the mirror and say, I know who that is, but it doesn't feel like me anymore. You’re probably looking at PPD.
No treatment is necessary. Postpartum depression treatment is necessary.
Antidepressants or medications are not prescribed. Antidepressants for postpartum depression which is moderate to severed are commonly prescribed.

What Are The Symptoms of Baby Blues?

• Crying for feeling tearful for no reason.
• Easily irritated.
• Impatience.
• Restlessness.
• Anxiety.
• Feeling exhausted and lethargic.
• Insomnia, even when the baby is sleeping.
• Sadness.
• Mood swings.
• Difficulties concentrating.

What Causes It?

It is probably caused by a mixture of both emotional and biological factors. In fact, if you step back and think about all the changes that have occurred in your body and your life, a few emotional swings can only be expected. Consider that your hormones levels steadily rose in the third trimester in preparation for childbirth and plummeted directly after delivery. The delivery itself is a draining process and your body will feel sore and spent. When you arrive home you may have other children to look after, the household chores still need to be done but you now have an addition to the family that requires attention 24/7. When you look in the mirror you see bags around the eyes, a baby pooch or stretch marks on the belly and sore nipples. And no matter how supportive your partner is, he can’t sort it all out for you. Is it any wonder that you’re feeling down and weary? Of course this is best case scenario and assumes the baby is sleeping and feeding properly. Slight health problems like jaundice or feeding difficulties in the early days can cause new moms lots of additional anxiety.

How Is It Treated?

No treatment is necessary, but mothers with the baby blues are advised to rest as much as possible. Allow the mother to cry when she feels like it and don’t tell her to pull herself together. Instead, reassure her that she (along with nearly 85 percent of other new moms) is only experiencing the baby blues and that it will soon pass.

Tips For Overcoming The Blues

Baby blues cartoon
Keep your sense of humor: Laughing is the best medicine for lifting low moods.
Don’t try to be perfect: There is no such thing as a perfect mother, so don’t beat yourself up when you don’t do everything right. Parenting is not natural, it’s something that needs to be learned like everything else.
Ask for help: Don’t feel you have to soldier on and cope with a crying new born on your own - ask your mother, sister, partner, whoever, to take the baby for a couple of hours so you can go out and get your hair done. Looking after yourself is NOT selfish - if you are not healthy you will not be able to look after your family. You look after your physical body by eating, it is just as important to look after your mental health.
Leave the house: Take the baby with you, go for a walk in a park or the local shopping mall. A change of scenery is surprisingly good for the mind.
Dress up: Wash your hair, get dressed, put a little makeup on. Looking good will cheer you up and your partner will appreciate it.
Exercise: Exercise is a great mood booster - even if that means using a home exercise DVD like Walk off the Pounds.
Sleep: Take a nap on the bed during the day when the baby is resting.

Also, read about natural treatment for postpartum depression and prevention of postpartum depression, both are also relevant for the baby-blues.

When To Get Help

Seek professional help for the baby blues if it persists for longer than 2 weeks or before that if:

• You cannot function normally.
• You feel sad, scared, anxious for most of the day.
• You cannot cope with everyday life.
• You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

It may be that you have a form of PPD, see diagnosis of postpartum depression for the next steps.

  Related Articles on Baby Blues

Causes of postpartum depression.

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WOMENS HEALTH ADVICE: ABOUT POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
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