Oh the Baby Blues. Nature’s present to new mothers.
I do not know a single mother who has not found herself at some point between days 3 & 10 post birth, sitting on her kitchen floor crying over spilt breast milk.
So what is actually going on? Well your oestrogen levels have had a dramatic drop post birth and this as well as other life-changing factors can lead to wanting to cry (a lot), feeling anxious or irritable, fatigue or insomnia, sadness, lack of concentration and a general sense of overwhelm.
Now this can occur for a few minutes or a few hours each day but what you need to remember is that it does not last. By at least a couple of weeks after you have given birth your hormone levels will balance out and life will begin to feel more normal again (well, as normal as you’d expect with a newborn in the house!).
So, as your chemical levels re-balance and your body recovers from labour and birth there are some things that you can do to help your transition into motherhood. Keeping in mind though that the hormones and chemicals of your body will still be in flux, whatever practical steps you take.
Ensure that your partner has taken some paternity leave for the first week back home. You will need an extra pair of hands for everything.
Make sure that you have a freezer full of easy, healthy meals. Failing to eat will only make matters worse.
Do not feel that you have to entertain anyone post birth. All relatives and friends need to respect your early days of family time. You do not need to be rushing around making tea and coffee for guests while THEY bond with YOUR baby. It will exhaust you.
Get as much snoozing and sleeping time as possible. This will need to be fairly ad-hoc and fitted around baby, but take to your bed and sofa while you get to know each other.
If a close family member or friend would like to come over then never be afraid to ask for their help. Perhaps you can get a bath or shower while they watch the little one? Or can they help with the laundry or housework? Ensure that they are there to help you…and never be afraid to ask them to wash their hands and not wear strong perfume. For new mums there is little more upsetting than having their precious baby handed back to them stinking of Channel No 5!
As you find your feet with this new life role try and get out for some fresh air. It may only be a short walk to your local coffee shop or park but getting fresh air and experiencing life outside of the baby routine will certainly help to give you a new perspective on life.
If your mood doesn’t lift after the first few weeks and you still feel depressed or indeed manic you may like to speak to your GP about it. According to the charity 4Children around 3 in 10 new mothers may experience post-natal depression and this really can be treated so don’t keep silent. Having a baby can be a hand-grenade into a relationship. It is absolutely life-altering and it can be exhausting. We know that all of these factors can lead to depression so take some time to assess how you are feeling. Avoid perfectionism, meet up with other mum friends so that you can honestly talk about your experiences. And, when you are ready see if you can carve out some time to exercise as this will always raise your serotonin levels. Just don’t suffer in silence.
So, the first couple of weeks may have you crying at the John Lewis advert, or yelling at your partner for not putting down the loo seat, or having you walking into rooms and upon arrival wondering what on earth you went in there for.
Don’t worry. It’s hormones. And it will pass.