“Baby blues” or “third-day syndrome” occurs in the first few days after giving birth. Suddenly, you become irritable, and anxious, feel vulnerable, and have sudden mood swings.
It is a transitory reaction, caused by the hormonal changes that occur in the body, stress, and lack of sleep, and it can last from a few hours to 15 days. In most cases, the symptoms go away on their own.
Here are some measures that will help you feel better and avoid worsening the depressive state:
- Tell your spouse or loved ones that you need their help (with child care, cooking or household chores);
- Take care of yourself too. Sleep, enjoy a relaxing bath (if you haven’t had a C-section), take a walk, and treat yourself to something that pleases you.
- Play with the baby, talk to him and enjoy the beginnings of your relationship.
If, after several weeks, you still feel sad, or overwhelmed by events, or if you show little interest in the baby, you probably have postpartum (or postnatal) depression.
Why does it appear?
Postnatal depression can occur at any time during the first year after birth. Experts agree that there is no single cause for postpartum depression, but rather a combination of factors, which may play a greater or lesser role in its onset.
It can be explained by physiological causes, but it can also be triggered by the changes in your life, caused by the appearance of the child, by the fact that you are overwhelmed by constraints, and by the lack of balance between natural obligations and pleasant activities.
Studies show that postpartum depression affects approximately 7% of mothers in the first three months after giving birth. But there is also a percentage of approximately 19% of women who manifest a form of mild depression.
Women who have experienced depression or anxiety in the past or during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing postnatal depression.
Other factors that can favor the occurrence of postnatal depression are:
- stressful events during pregnancy (change of residence, financial problems, an illness or premature birth);
- an unstable situation from a social point of view;
- low self-esteem;
- a not-quite-happy relationship or marriage, or even difficult, stressful;
- acute premenstrual syndrome;
- postnatal depression in the previous pregnancy;
- too little support from family members or friends.
One of the main causes of depression after pregnancy is extreme fatigue. Enjoy the days you spend at the maternity hospital, where you have nothing else to do but rest. After returning home, limit visits and try to relax.
Ask for help from those around you
From family, friends, husband, or boyfriend. Delegate daily childcare tasks to them. You will not become a bad mother, on the contrary! It will help you get through this intense and tiring period.
Don’t hesitate to talk about your anxiety, doubts, or difficulties you are facing
Tell your loved ones how you feel and what worries you. They will advise and reassure you. And don’t forget one important thing: you have the right to be tired or sad. Even the perfect mothers are sometimes.
Adelina Muresan, clinical psychologist, and psychotherapist, www.i-psiholog.ro
The pressure that new mothers feel is increasing. In light of the huge amount of information related to parenting, everyone expects herself to be a perfect mother, to feel exactly what and how a good mother should feel, to do everything right, and to have only good thoughts. And the appearance of an emotional problem after birth shakes up this image a lot. I think it is necessary for both the new mother and those around her to be aware that problems such as postpartum depression are not a fad, they are not something you can overcome because you are strong and they are not proof that you are weak. They are health problems that require treatment and that, left unresolved, can affect your life in the long term – you, your child, and your family. The sooner you ask for support, when you realize that you are not feeling well, the easier you will be able to overcome the problem. The longer you put off asking for help, the more complicated the problem will be and the more difficult it will be to overcome – but not impossible.