Having 'Baby Blues'
According to the NHS website, many women get “baby blues” within the first week after childbirth. It is common for women to feel emotional, irritable, have a low mood, or randomly burst into tears. Symptoms usually alleviate after a few days.
I was warned by a friend that this would occur around day 3 after birth. I cannot tell you what day it hit me (I lost all track of days very quickly), but wow, did it hit me and it didn’t just disappear after a few days!
I don’t think the term “baby blues” even covers it. I think it completely diminishes how a woman can feel, especially if it doesn’t alleviate after a few days. I honestly wondered if I had Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal Depression (PND) can occur anywhere (usually) from 2-8 weeks after birth until 1 year and is thought to affect 1 in 10 women. Symptoms include feeling increasingly depressed and despondent, feeling hopeless, losing interest in the baby, feelings of not being able to cope, not being able to stop crying or to enjoy usual things.
In the UK, you are visited by the Health Visitor a few weeks after birth and they give you a questionnaire to fill out to ascertain whether you have PND. In my experience, with how I was feeling at the time, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to be open or honest with the Health Visitor… she was a stranger and I felt like admitting that I wasn’t happy was admitting I'd failed.
I was so wrong...I wasn’t failing, I was just struggling.
I worry that another Mum who also feels uncomfortable and not able to open up to a stranger may not receive the help they need. I wasn’t asked about my mood again until my daughter was 5 months old.
If you do experience any of the above symptoms, please do not suffer alone or in silence. I know many Mothers who have been affected by PND and it is so distressing for them, but just as though you would seek help if you had a physical injury, please do the same for your mental health! Speak to a friend, your partner, and/or your Doctor and seek the help that you are rightly entitled to. You need to look after yourself to be able to look after your baby.
I didn’t have PND but that brings me back to the term “baby blues”… it did not cover how emotional I felt and how low my mood was, even if I wasn’t depressed.
“Baby blues” makes it sound trivial, but having never experienced anything similar, it did not feel trivial to me. I hadn’t lost interest in my baby or my life, I felt like I could look after her and myself … but I still did not feel like myself.
For months I would just randomly burst into tears. My fiancé would come home from work and I would be sitting in the living room with our daughter, crying… and I couldn’t explain why.
Even now, she is nearly a year old and I find my hormones affecting my mood constantly and I am far more prone to crying now than I ever was before. This is a complete change for me.
These feelings are down to our hormones and chemicals within our brain after the birth of a baby. It is not in any way because you are not a brilliant Mum! Please never think that!
So… let us stop calling them “baby blues” and expecting them to go away after a few days. It is perfectly normal and okay for them to linger and for us to feel emotional and “down”. We don’t always have to feel happy or elated as Mums, even though that’s how we are expected to act. Let us speak openly and honestly about all of our emotions, stop hiding them or trivializing the, and if you need to speak to someone, do.
Being a Mum is tough physically and emotionally. We all need to understand and support one another, and hopefully, by talking honestly we can help each other feel less alone.