The stork has decided to pay you a visit, and you’re now the doting mother to an adorable baby. But as you hold your irreplaceable bundle of joy in your arms, surprisingly, it’s not just tears of happiness that flow down your cheeks. It is one of the happiest moments of your life. And so you wonder why the sadness keeps creeping up when you least expect it. Don’t worry; it’s not something to feel guilty about, and you are certainly not alone.
Often, the exact reason for these sudden bouts of depression cannot be pinned down. Women are prone to emotional vulnerability right after childbirth, as well as during pregnancy. Whether it is your first baby or the third, postpartum blues are natural. So don’t be surprised if your heart feels a bit heavy even as you watch your little one sleep peacefully.
What are these baby blues all about?
Many women experience extreme mood swings and surges of sadness that can begin before or right after childbirth. You might feel low, irritable or unusually tired (especially since there’s now another person that needs near-constant care and attention). These symptoms usually last just for a few days, but be prepared for longer bouts. One factor is the new mother’s hormonal imbalance, which takes a little while to get back to pre-pregnancy levels.
What can you do about it?
Relax! Remember that you’ve just gone through a life-changing experience. You need plenty of rest and a healthy diet. Exhaustion and stress will only add to your mood swings. Catch up on your sleep whenever the baby is asleep. And if you still feel your eyes welling up, don’t stifle those tears; expressing your feelings always helps.
“But nothing in my wardrobe fits anymore!”
How often have we heard this?! But not finding something to wear for an evening out is different from not finding anything at all that fits you in your wardrobe. After your delivery, one of the things at the top of your list is getting back into shape. When you open your closet, you’ll either find your pre-pregnancy clothes (which might not fit you anymore) or your newer maternity clothes (which you definitely do not want to wear!). Now, don’t let this upset you. What better reason than this to get out for a bit of shopping? It’s not called ‘retail therapy’ for nothing! Getting out can work wonders for your mood. But make sure you don’t go rushing out without checking with your doctor first!
It’s time for some pampering!
When you’re feeling blue, a little bit of pampering can definitely help. The shift of attention from you to the baby can make those blues even worse. Go ahead and pamper yourself a bit. Indulge in something that makes you feel better. Despite the new demands of motherhood, find some time to pick up a book, listen to music, visit the spa, take a walk in the fresh air or stop at your local coffee house for a cuppa. Talk to your friends and your family; they’ll be there for you, and if you want them to pamper you a bit, go ahead and ask. A little bit of indulgence can go a long way.
The first few months with your newborn can be exhausting (even before the ‘terrible twos’ start!) Your body will need all the energy it can get. Taking care of your baby may be at the top of your list, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat healthy. Include protein-rich foods like milk and eggs, wholegrain breads, cereals and fruits. Make each meal count. Instead of three big meals, try having smaller meals at regular intervals. This will help reduce the see-sawing between fullness and hunger, and will give you more time with your baby. Grab a piece of fruit or a glass of milk in between. Drink plenty of water, and - this one might be difficult - cut down on the caffeine intake. Sleepless nights and exhaustion can tempt you to reach for that second cup of coffee or a candy bar. These are good only for that quick burst of energy; what you really need is fuel that can help get you through the whole day.
Exercise… in moderation!
Postpartum weight loss can be slow. Now is definitely not the time to rush to your local gym and start an extreme workout programme, or to cut down dramatically on calorie intake. Instead, try focusing on regaining your strength. Once you have fully recovered from the delivery and your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can slowly start working on losing those extra kilos. A moderate workout routine can help you shed your pregnancy and make you feel better about yourself.
For many women, the “miracle of birth” comes with its share of ups and downs. But with proper rest, a nutritious diet, exercise and support from family and friends, those baby blues will quickly become a thing of the past!