Signs it May Be More Than the Baby Blues
It’s a boy! It’s a girl! When a healthy baby comes into the world, both mother and father are elated. It’s a thrilling moment in life. You’re in the hospital, with lots of help from nurses who bring the baby to you for feedings, and take him away when you want to sleep or the baby gets fussy.
Then you get home with your new bundle of joy. There are no more nurses around, and it’s completely up to you to figure out feeding times, when the baby needs a diaper, how often he needs to sleep, what he needs when he is crying and more. Your partner is back at work and everything is up to you, including feedings throughout the night. You have had to learn to sleep with one eye open, and during the day, that eye can never leave your baby’ sight. Suddenly, your world revolves around this helpless being.
The Baby Blues
Soon, all that extra effort, combined with rapid changes in hormones, sore breasts from feedings, body image issues and an immense lack of sleep starts to wear on you.
Factor in all the difficulties that you have to conquer on top of that on a daily basis, and one can understand why a mother might start to get run down, and feel down. These are the “baby blues.”
It’s time to ask for help. Get your partner to pitch in with diaper changes and midnight crying fits. Mom would probably love to come over and babysit while you take a nap. And don’t worry about the laundry and the dishes. If there were ever a time to hire a cleaning service, it’s now.
The baby blues can be rough, but they usually fade over the next few weeks, as you adjust to your new life, and start getting a little more rest.
Postpartum Depression…A Different Story
Postpartum depression is a different story, however. It is more serious than the baby blues. Symptoms can feel much worse and last much longer, sometimes for months. Even with your best efforts to keep your baby happy and healthy, you feel you haven’t done enough. You have neglected your own needs, some as basic as showering and brushing your hair, and you start to get down on yourself because you don’t look the way you used to. You lose your sense of self-worth and start concentrating on negative emotions.
Six Ways to Tell the Difference
The baby blues appear suddenly, bringing on irritability and unexpected sadness. Crying, restlessness, and anxiety also may accompany these feelings. Often a mother doesn’t understand why she is depressed. You just had a baby, shouldn’t you be overcome with joy?
Any depressive behavior that lasts longer than a few weeks can indicate a turn towards postpartum depression. Below are six symptoms that can help you identify that sadness has gone beyond the normal baby blues:
- Crying for no reason
- Feeling hopeless
- A loss of pleasure in daily activities
- Appetite and weight changes
- Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling guilty or worthless, and/or thinking about death or suicide
These symptoms can be debilitating, sometimes making it hard for you to bond with your baby at all. Postpartum depression can make it difficult for you to function properly, constantly struggling just to get through another day. But many women don’t recognize what is happening, and therefore, don’t seek treatment. They think this is what happens to all new mothers and that they just need a good night’s sleep to get things back to normal.
What to Do
Mothers with postpartum depression often focusing on the fact they cannot do it all. They feel that asking for help makes them a failure. Their self-esteem takes a blow and they start to doubt that anything they do isn’t up to snuff. A mother with postpartum depression needs to get help turning her thinking around so that she starts to feel the positive emotions in her life, the ones that can help her fight feelings of worthlessness and gain the emotional strength she needs to care for her baby and herself.