The rapid changes in your hormone levels right after birth can bring mixed feelings and mood swings. Having surgery, the changes in your hormone levels, or an unexpected cesarean birth can lead to a mild depression called “baby blues.” Pain, the stress of new responsibilities, and lack of sleep can make the baby blues worse. The baby blues can happen a few days to a few weeks after
birth and can last for several days to a week.
At no other time in your life will you have so many changes in such a short time. At no other time in your life will you have so many changes in such a short time. It is normal to have mixed feelings. You may feel happy, sad, or both at the same time. You may feel irritated or angry at anyone and everyone. Some new mothers feel abandoned as everyone’s attention changes from her to the new baby. You may feel guilty about having some of these feelings, or think “I’m going crazy!” You may be able to cope more easily if you see these feelings early for what they are—normal emotions for many new mothers. Talking about your feelings can help a lot. Call a friend, your mother, or a sister. Have an open talk with your partner about how you are feeling. The baby blues are temporary and should pass.
If your feelings begin to get the best of you, see them as a signal that you may have passed your ability to cope and that changes need to be made. These are things you can do to ease the baby blues and prevent postpartum depression:
• Join a support group.
• Don’t try to return to your old routine too soon.
• Take a few hours each week to do something just for yourself.
• Entertain visitors and family only when you feel up to it.
• Get at least a half-hour of continuous exercise each day.
• Eat well, even if you don’t feel like it.
• Keep yourself physically attractive; you’ll feel better when you know you look good.
• Sleep when your baby sleeps; don’t use it as a time to get something done.
You may need professional advice if the baby blues don’t go away. The baby blues turn into postpartum depression for about 1 out of every 10 new mothers.
These are symptoms of postpartum depression:
• You don’t feel hungry or you have no interest in food.
• You have doubts about your abilities as a mother.
• You feel helpless.
• You have difficulty concentrating.
• You have confused thoughts.
• You have episodes of crying, anxiety, or fear.
• You have periods of nervousness and tension.
• You can’t sleep, even when you are tired.
• You worry all the time.
• You have no desire for personal grooming.
• You have feelings of hopelessness.
Having 1 or 2 of these symptoms does not mean that you have postpartum depression. If you have more than 4 of the symptoms listed above, there is a good possibility that professional advice is needed.
Nothing is more important than keeping yourself healthy so you can care for your baby, your family, and yourself. Don’t let depression get worse.
Call your doctor:
• If you think you have postpartum depression and the symptoms are getting worse instead of better.
• If you don’t want to be with your baby.
• If you have no interest in eating.
• If you can’t sleep.
• If you think you may hurt your baby, your other children, or yourself.
Don’t be embarrassed to call your doctor’s office if you think you need advice. Reassurance from your doctor or the staff may be just what you need.
More About Self Care After Cesarean Birth
Introduction to Self-care After Cesarean Birth
Preventive Self Care
Physical Changes and Healing
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
Activities and Healthy Exercise
Nutrition and Diet
Family Planning and Birth Control
Normal “Baby Blues” or Postpartum Depression
Your Postpartum Check-Up
Get as Much Rest as You Can
When to Call Your Doctor
LEARN MORE ABOUT IT
You can learn more about the baby blues or postpartum depression by calling Postpartum Support International at 1-805-967-7636 or Depression After Delivery at 1-800-944-4773.