...a friend once said to me. She was a young mom, just recently gave birth, and was joyful--yet overwhelmed--about her new role.
But she was in a "fog."
She talked further about her symptoms, her thoughts, her worries, concerns, her physical symptoms, and overall feelings. I encouraged her to share her concerns with her physician. Though she and her doctor discovered she did not meet criteria for "postpartum mood disorder," she indeed had what is often called "the baby blues."
The baby blues is one of the most common complaints of new moms. Mamas often minimize the effect that giving birth has on her physical --let alone mental or emotional--wellness. The "fog" that happens in baby blues often is associated with hormonal changes that are natural to the postpartum experience, as well as the lifestyle changes of reduced sleep and self-care routine.
What causes postpartum blues to move into a more serious and prolonged postpartum mood disorder isn't always known or predictable, but there are some tips to help reduce the impact on the postpartum blue experience as a mama rides it out:
1. Watch the self-talk. Do you notice that you are feeling a sense of helplessness or overwhelm? Watch whether those feelings move quickly into guilt or shame. Nip that kind of negative self-talk in the bud. When we allow negative self-talk to take residence, it is often really difficult to shake!
2. SELF CARE. "Yeah, yeah, Allie, I know. I took a shower and changed today. What else do you want from me??" Well, take what you're doing for yourself and times it by two. Or ten. Do as much as you possibly can to institute some active, regular and intentional self care every day. (Have negative thoughts about that? Start at number 1!)
3. Get that support! There is a reason why postpartum doulas are a growing and needed thing! We need support, reliable, consistent and intuitive support. It is part of the reason why I opened my online practice helping mamas. No more commute, no more concerns about naptime, no more worry about pumping--being accessible is something that is not a luxury, it is a necessity for new moms. (Click here if you wanna chat!)
4. Talk to your doctor. Make sure you follow up as planned and tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms. OBGyns are mandated to assess you for postpartum mood issues, so take it seriously when your doc asks you how you are. They really do want to know.
5. Reach out if your mood changes significantly, you start feeling worse, or like you may hurt or neglect yourself or your baby. Click here for support right away.
Your mood is just one of the changes that naturally happens after birth, and it can really put a damper at times with the feelings of joy and love for your new baby. The baby blues, though transitional, are just another reminder that your life is now wonderfully changed--for the better.