We all have a perfect picture of life with a newborn baby. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience, after all. Well, it is - of that, there is no doubt. But it can also be an incredibly stressful time that will take you through a rollercoaster of emotion. Ultimately, there will be periods when you feel totally wiped out, down, and feel like you are in a pit of despair - the ‘baby blues,’ as it’s called.
While the baby blues is completely normal, it’s not a pleasant thing to experience. There are, however, a few things you can do to deal with the strong and unhappy emotions you are feeling. In today’s guide, I’m going to go through a few things you should be doing if you want to beat the baby blues.
Understanding your emotions
First of all, it’s important to realize that the baby blues is completely natural and healthy. Every new mother - and many fathers, too, by the way - will go through it at some point. It’s also important to distinguish the ups and downs of having a baby from something a little more serious - postpartum depression. Both share common symptoms - mood swings, insomnia, crying, etc. - but with postpartum depression, the thoughts and emotions tend to be more severe. For example, you might be experiencing a complete inability to care for your newborn, or even starting to have suicidal thoughts. Finally, the baby blues can often develop into antenatal depression, so make sure you are keeping yourself aware of your current state.
Ask for help
OK, so let’s start discussing ways of beating the baby blues. One of the first things you need to start doing is asking for help. Far too many new moms think they need to be superheroes and take everything on themselves. It’s a natural feeling - the maternal instinct is a strong driver. But the reality is that if you need help, you have to ask for it. Invite friends and family over to give you a hand - or even just to offload to. Don’t see it as an affront to your mothering skills, as every new mom needs help of some description. And take your cues from evolution, too. The human race evolved in communities, and there is plenty of evidence that even pre history babies had ‘nannies’ within the tribe. It’s also important to remember that however much information you read or learn before the birth, most of it will go out of the window in real life. Your experiences will be very different to everything you read in a book, and you need family and friends around you to give you a hand.
Have a life
It can be tempting to bed in at home and keep yourself behind closed doors. And the chances are that you will do this for the first couple of weeks with your newborn, and have a fantastic time. But after this first fortnight, start making an effort to get outside and meet people. Baby groups can be an amazing place for finding a support group outside of your family and friends, as there will be parents there that are going through exactly what you are. In fact, once you get started with going out, you might even find that your little baby doesn’t impact too much on your general lifestyle. You’ll still be able to go shopping, for coffee with friends, and do heaps of other stuff while your little one is immobile and spends most of their time sleeping. Enjoy it while you can, because once they start being more active, independent, and loud, these activities can often be a nightmare!
Deal with the physical side
Part of your blue feeling could be due to the constant aches and pains of postpartum life. Remember that it is just a period and it’s not going to last forever. You will experience all kinds of issues, from leaking bodily fluids through to cramps. You might suffer some engorgement from milk overproduction, too, so get yourself something like a Blue Cross Blue Shield breast pump to help ease the pain. Bleeding is common and normal, but make sure that you see your doctor if it continues for too long. You will also feel like you are falling apart a little - especially when all that lustrous hair you had while pregnant starts falling out in clumps. None of these issues are particularly pleasant, of course, but visiting your doctor could give you some relief, which in turn will help your mood.
Once you start feeling down, it’s easy to go inside of yourself. However, one of the most important and valuable things you can do is the opposite, and open up to people. Communicating how you are feeling - especially to your partner - can give you instant relief. Don’t be afraid to offload, discuss your worries, and talk about the emotional rollercoaster you are going through. Speak to your support network, too. A lot of new mothers feel like they are unique in what they are feeling, but it won’t take long to have a conversation and find out that almost every new mom you meet will be having similar issues.
You’re allowed a time out
You might think you need to be spending every single minute with your baby, and that taking some ‘me time’ goes against the mothering rules. But look at it this way: if you can function better by having a time out once or twice a week, what’s wrong with it? At the end of the day, you will be doing your baby much better care than someone who is struggling with trying to be there at all times. Exhaustion is a real issue with parents of newborns, and letting your partner, parent, or friend look after your little one once in awhile will help you overcome it. Be kind to yourself, and you will find you are able to be even better to your child.
Don’t listen to the ‘experts.’
Every mom is different. Every child is different. And every person you meet will offer you different advice. The reality is that you will find your own way, and holding your mothering skills against the standards of some else’s thoughts will only go against you in the long run. There will be many people out there who will criticize you, or tell you are doing something wrong. And over time it can all add up to make you feel like a bad mother. But no one knows your baby like you. So, take advice by all means - well-intentioned or not - but never feel like you have to answer to anyone else’s standards.
As we discussed earlier, a case of the baby blues is completely normal, but it can lead to depression. If you feel like you aren’t coping, be proactive about it. Make it an aim to have a discussion with your partner, mom, or best friend. If you still don’t feel better from offloading to your close circle, speak to your baby group companies. Still not working? Go tell your doctor, doula, or nurse practitioner - whoever you can talk to - and don’t be shy about it. It’s important to understand that you don’t have to go through all of this on your own, and at some point, you will find the help you need to feel better. Ultimately, the longer you suffer in silence, the worse the baby blues will get - so, speak out and fear nothing. Good luck!