You’ve just had a baby. Congratulations! Likely you expected to be consumed with feelings of love and joy…and it’s likely you are. Sometimes, it is harder to connect with those feelings due to the stress and changes associated with a new addition to the family. This can be cause by the physical, hormonal, and relationship changes that mothers experience…all at once. Mood changes are common, really the rule rather than the exception. There is even an expectation that new mothers will experience some mild depression, tearfulness, sleep problems, and irritability for a brief period of time. This is often referred to as the “baby blues.” Moods may change frequently and without apparent cause. Baby blues appear within a few days of giving birth and may last for a few days to two or three weeks. This is not unusual and is often simply the result of the many hormonal changes occurring in your body. By the time your baby is three or four weeks old, your usual mood patterns should begin to return.
Here are some ways to care for yourself if you are experiencing the baby blues:
– Try to get plenty of sleep. This is a challenge with a newborn in the house, but see if others can assist in caring for your new bundle of joy to allow you some sleep. Sleep is an important key in managing stress and mood.
– Adult contact. Spend time with your partner. Talk to supportive friends, especially others with children who may be able to relate to your experiences. Visit or invite family members over who may be willing to attend to your new baby and give you a bit of respite
– Get a change of scenery. Take some time outside of the house. Get outside. Sunshine is helpful in managing mood and encouraging our body to maintain normal sleep/wake cycles. Window shop at a mall. Visit friends or family.
– Feed yourself. Eat well. Drink plenty of water. Find healthy snacks to have around the house to promote good eating habits and good health.
– Nurture yourself. Treat yourself to your favorite, relaxing activities. Read a book or get a recorded book from the library and let someone else read to you. Take a bubble bath. Get a manicure or pedicure or maybe a massage.
Post partum depression can be a serious problem if you find that your “baby blues” become very intense or prolonged past 3-4 weeks. Post partum depression may occur as a gradual increase in the severity of baby blues (as described above) or the problems may seem to come on more suddenly, even a month or more after giving birth. Do you recognize the following in yourself or your partner?
– Lack of interest in your life or in your new baby
– Frequent tearfulness
– Difficulty sleeping
– Feeling overwhelmed with household chores
– Increased worrying or anxiety
– Not looking forward to things you used to enjoy
– Thoughts of harming yourself or your child
Improved mood and outlook can begin in just a few sessions. Please call for a consultation or to make an appointment. Infants are welcome to attend if needed. If leaving your home is not medically recommended or problematic – please call to discuss alternatives to office appointments. Call Dr. Kimberly M. Kilgore, Ph.D today.