Our friends at Boston NAPS—a private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families—are sharing information on “baby blues” and postpartum depression.
Every mother’s emotional reaction to the birth and care of their baby is a unique and personal experience. Just like any physical and emotional process we go through in life, every woman and mother will react differently. It is important to have an understanding of what emotions are normal after delivery, but also the ability for you and family to recognize when certain emotions such as sadness and anxiety become extreme and might interfere with your ability to care for yourself or your family.
While having a new baby is an exciting time, many women can feel confused about why they may have moments of sadness after such a joyous occasion of bringing a baby into the world. Some studies indicate that up to 80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child.1 It is normal to have moments where you feel like you want to cry, do cry, or need some time to yourself without the baby around. But remember, that is just what they are: moments. These “baby blues” feelings often happen in the first two weeks after giving birth.
Postpartum depression can happen any time after childbirth, but often starts within 1-3 weeks of having a baby. Woman may feel like they do not “like” their baby, or they are afraid to be left alone with the baby. These thoughts can be as serious and consuming of the mind as considering harming the baby or yourself. It is of the utmost importance to convey how you are feeling to your partner, family, and healthcare provider. All of these signs of postpartum depression should be addressed immediately. Mothers should not be afraid to not only ask for help, but to accept help.
Here are some things that you can do right away when you are home with your new baby if you are experiencing the baby blues, or if you are being treated for postpartum depression by your healthcare provider.
Time for you and the baby
Get out early and often! Do these two simple things every day – put on a change of clothes and get out of the house with the baby. It does not have to be a big activity out of the house, but one as simple as walking around the block with the stroller, or going 100 yards to a local coffee shop on the corner. The fresh air and act of getting out of the home will help a mother’s emotional state as it relates to her feeling towards herself and her baby, and it also provides a physical activity to do every day with the baby.
As you feel ready, you can build your way up to finding an activity that you can go out and do together. Explore options in your local community, such as a new parent support group, a drop in breastfeeding group, or a baby and mother yoga class. It is a great way to gain support of other mothers who are going through the exact same thing as you, and it gives your baby the experience of being around other babies.
Time for you and your partner
Making time for you and your partner may seem hard, but just keep it simple. By simple, we mean sitting down and eating together or watching your favorite TV show together a few nights a week while the baby sleeps. It’s important for you to maintain that relationship for both your and your partner’s emotional states and also for your new role as parents.
Finally, don’t forget about yourself. The hardest part about making time for yourself is asking for help. Don’t be afraid to do this! Whether that’s help from your partner, or a family member/friend, or a professional, just ask and don’t feel bad about it. And then take that time to do something that you enjoy doing; that could be eating, sleeping, taking a bath/shower, exercising, shopping, a spa treatment, etc. Find a window of time for yourself to do the things you enjoy.
While taking time to foster your relationship with your partner as well as remain in touch with yourself may seem counterintuitive to creating a better bond with your newborn, these two things can actually help you be a better parent. You must first take care of yourself before you can take care of another human being.
1 “Postpartum Depression Facts” NIH. National Institute of Mental Health. NIH Publication No. 13-8000. Web.
Boston NAPS, LLC is a Boston-based, private nursing company and team of qualified Registered Nurses that specializes in providing nursing care to expecting, new, and experienced parents and families. Boston NAPS services include prenatal, postpartum, lactation, and newborn support and education to families throughout Massachusetts. All services are offered in the privacy and comfort of your home, with some services also offered in a group setting. For more information about Boston NAPS, please visit their website at http://www.BostonNAPS.com.