After 9 months of morning sickness, picking names and just generally figuring out how you’re going to navigate your new world once the little one arrives, you’ve reached the finish line and your baby is finally here. Now for the magic. The time where you get to just snuggle up with that sweet nugget and enjoy the fruits of your long labor. So…why does it sometimes feel so sad?
Remember those mood swings you felt when you were pregnant? During pregnancy, your body is adjusting to growing a baby and your hormones can cause your mood to change in an instant. After the baby is born, your body is making yet another adjustment as it shifts to no longer supporting another human growing in your belly. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone are suddenly decreasing and you’re also now managing the added stressors of learning how to care for your baby. It is completely normal to continue experiencing mood swings after delivery.
The Baby Blues
Most new moms experience what many call the “baby blues” within the first 2-3 days after giving birth. Baby blues are feelings of sadness immediately following having a baby and can include symptoms such as unexplained crying spells, difficulty sleeping, anxious feelings, and mood swings. They are extremely common (up to 4 in 5 new parents experience the baby blues). These feelings can come and go, but are typically short-term and go away on their own after a couple of weeks. However, if you find these feelings of sadness are lasting longer than a few weeks, you may want to consider talking with someone about postpartum depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a more severe, long-lasting form of depression that typically begins after childbirth, but can start as early as during pregnancy. Postpartum depression can impact anyone regardless of age, color, or background, however, there are higher risks of developing it if you have experienced any of the following:
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- History of depression
- Lack of support system from friends or family
- Relationship or money problems
- A physically or emotionally difficult pregnancy
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Symptoms of postpartum depression may include:
- Feeling empty, sad, or overwhelmed
- Unmotivated to do basic tasks (like getting out of bed, taking a shower, etc.)
- Severe mood swings
- Crying often for no particular reason
- No longer enjoying activities or hobbies that you did before
- Feelings of resentment toward your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Change in appetite (either eating too little or too much)
How to Treat Postpartum Depression
If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to manage the symptoms and help bond with your new baby. However, there are also proactive steps you can take to help decrease the risk of developing postpartum depression or to help with symptoms if they have already started.
Counseling. Especially if you meet any of the risk factors of developing postpartum depression, talking to a counselor or therapist while you’re pregnant or after the baby is born can certainly help. Care Net Milwaukee has great (free!) counseling resources to share with you – call or text us for more information.
Community and support from other new moms. Being together with other moms who are in a similar situation can be helpful. Not only can it help to build a support system of friends, but it can also be a great source of self-care. Care Net Milwaukee offers regular classes for moms (both before during pregnancy and after your baby is born) with free childcare available to help you get the break you need with other moms.
Self-Care. Caring for a new baby is hard work. It’s important to make sure you are also taking time to care for yourself as well. Something as small as taking a shower, stepping outside for a few minutes, or eating a hot meal can go a long way in helping your mood. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
Healthy eating and exercise. Eating nutritious foods and exercising helps to keep you well nourished and can help with your energy levels as well.
Sleep. Your ability to sleep well at night may certainly be determined by your baby, but getting as much sleep as possible when you’re able to during the day and at night is important.
Medication. Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help during this time.
How Care Net Milwaukee Can Help
Whether you are experiencing potential symptoms of postpartum depression or are just looking to meet other moms and learn some parenting tips along the way, Care Net Milwaukee is here for you. We offer a variety of classes and groups centered around various topics of interest. For many classes, free childcare is available for children 4 & under so you can enjoy a break with other moms.
All class offerings and schedules can be found on our website: Pregnancy and Parenting Class Schedule.
In addition to being able to spend time with other moms and focus on self-care, Care Net also provides “Baby Bucks” for class attendance, which can be exchanged for pregnancy and baby items (such as clothes, diapers, and wipes).
The struggle of Postpartum Depression is a tough one. If you or someone you know is battling feelings of depression after giving birth, please remember:
- These feelings are temporary.
- These feelings are common.
- You are not alone. Even when loneliness creeps in, our team is here to listen and provide a safe space for you to connect with others.
- Help is out there and easy to find. Care Net Milwaukee is a phone call away.
For additional information on postpartum depression, or to learn more about the programs available at Care Net Milwaukee for moms, call or text us at 414-962-2212.