You may have heard about postpartum blues or postpartum depression. Some women experience this and some don’t. You may feel elated after birth and the days that follow, especially if you had a good birth experience. But you may also find yourself sore, tired, in pain, or somewhat overwhelmed. And sometimes, women alternate between elation and depression.
Every woman is different. There is no one correct way to feel after you have had a baby. You may notice that your emotions are subject to rapid ups and downs. Little things that normally would not bother you may leave you in tears. It is very common for women to have a sense of letdown around the third day postpartum. This is probably fueled by the rapid hormonal changes occurring in your body. Also, fatigue and any physical discomfort may play a role, and the realities of having a newborn may also be starting to catch up with you.
Survival Strategies: Take a long nap. Take a warm bath. If possible, scent the water with a few drops of clary sage, jasmine oil, or ylang-ylang. These are aromatherapy measures that can calm you and lift your spirits.Talk to your husband or a friend.Remind yourself that these feelings are temporary, and don’t reflect on your love for your baby or abilities as a mother.
When it’s more than the blues…
Postpartum Blues occur in the first week following the birth. You are weepy and cry for no reason....happy things, stupid things, you just weep tears. This is due to the huge hormonal drop of estrogen and rise in prolactin when the placenta detaches and tells the body to start making milk. The difference between Postpartum Blues and Postpartum Mood Disorders is when it lingers. The first week in intense! Intensely wonderful, intensely exhausting....intense. But after the first two weeks things should peak out and begin to normalize- the new normal. When depression or anxiety intensify or don't alleviate after the first two weeks we know that it turns into postpartum mood disorders. This can be either anxiety or depression or both. It is nothing to be ashamed of. You did nothing wrong and you need not be ashamed of hw you feel. There is help and you can get better. You just need to reach out for help.
At Tree of Life we have a specific Postpartum Mood Disorder Plan of Care that incorporates supplements, counseling, and follow-up for when medication is necessary. There are medications you can take while breastfeeding and often only need to be utilized for 4 to 6 months. You do not need to suffer in silence!
Self-Help: Postpartum Depression:
More than just a transient case of the blues, postpartum depression can be a very serious problem for some women. It may not show up for several weeks after birth. It is actually fairly common, occurring in some degree in 10 to 20% of mothers. One of the most important things to understand about postpartum depression is know that it has nothing to do with your love for your baby or your desire to be a mother. Because many mothers believe that postpartum depression reflects badly on them as mothers and people, many women do not admit their distress and fail to get help.
- Because being tired fuels depression, take naps when possible, and get as much rest as you can.
- People who are depressed often withdraw from others, but it is important to get together with other mothers, talk with friends or others on the phone, connect with a friend or family member daily.
- Take a few minutes each day to do something nice for yourself.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine, sugar, and salt.
- Eat high protein snacks. Continue taking your prenatal vitamins.
- Get some mild exercise each day. Go outside and get fresh air when you can. If the weather doesn’t permit, do stretching exercises on the floor
- Enlist the help of your partner, friend, or family members to assist with childcare so that you can have some time to yourself.
- Listen to soothing music, do deep breathing, or find other ways to relax and replenish yourself.
- See your midwife or other health care provider. There may be physical problems contributing to your depression, and your practitioner can help you find support groups or refer you for counseling or other help if needed.