The most incredible moment in a mother's life is the first time she holds her baby. The soft skin and sweet baby smell takes her over the minute the baby is placed on her chest. She is overcome with emotions she didn't even know she had -- ranging from joy to being overwhelmed and maybe even to sadness. These emotions may be a part of normal baby blues or could be due to postpartum depression.
Baby blues (the least severe form of postpartum depression) or some kind of negative feelings or mood swing affect 70-80% of new mothers. In women who develop these symptoms, it is most often within the first couple weeks after giving birth. Women who have the baby blues may have trouble sleeping, feel moody, teary and overwhelmed. However, despite these symptoms, these moms are still able to care for their newborn.
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects on in eight women and can develop right after birth or up to a year later. Symptoms of postpartum depression are more severe and include sadness, helplessness and worthlessness. These moms have trouble caring for and bonding with their baby as well as losing pleasure in everyday things. Below are some tips for a new mom to help with this array of emotions.
To help with either baby blues or postpartum depression, there are a few things a new mom can do:
- Accept help from family and friends -- anything from taking care of the baby to housework
- Rest when you can -- take naps whenever your baby sleeps
- Go to mommy and baby groups and talk to other mothers -- chances are they have some of the same feelings that you do
- Hire a babysitter or have a family member watch your little one while you take time to do something for yourself
If you're still not feeling better, you or a family member should call your doctor, especially if:
- The baby blues last longer than two weeks
- Symptoms are getting worse
- You are having trouble caring for yourself or your baby
- You are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
It takes some time to adjust to everything that comes along with having a baby. With the love and support of family and friends, new mothers are able to adapt and thrive in their new role.