Sadness After Childbirth
Why do I feel sad if I just had a baby?
Many women feel sad and want to mourn the first few days after giving birth. Bringing a baby to the world is a wonderful and exhausting experience at the same time. It’s something that fills you with joy at the same time that puts you to the test as you could never imagine.
You may feel exhausted, worried, unhappy, or discouraged, and that you find yourself weeping over things that didn’t even bother you before. You might notice changes in your appetite, and maybe it’s hard to sleep well. You may also feel irritable, nervous; worried that you will be a good mom and even scared that your life will never be like before.
But stay calm: all these feelings are known as “the postpartum sadness or melancholy” (Baby Blues), and experience them 40 to 80 percent of all mothers.
What are the causes of postpartum sadness?
Postpartum sadness can result from physical changes, emotional factors, or a combination of both. After childbirth, the body changes very quickly. The hormonal levels go down, the milk goes up, and it is possible that the breasts are inflamed and that, also, you feel exhausted. These physical realities can trigger feelings of discouragement and melancholy.
Emotionally, you may feel nervous or anxious about the baby’s well-being and the transition to motherhood, or it can cost you to adjust to the new routine. New responsibilities can overwhelm you.
What can I do to make myself feel better?
Usually, postpartum sadness disappears on its own in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, the rest and support of your family and friends will be essential to make you feel better.
And while you are adjusting to the new reality of having to take care of the needs of such a tiny baby, it is important that you also look after yourself. Of course, it’s not an easy task, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.
- Lack of sleep can make you feel worse, so it’s important that you try to rest whenever you can. Even a short ten-minute nap can make you feel much better.
- Try to do a little exercise every day as well. Something as simple as walking a few minutes outdoors will have very positive effects on your mood. (If you have a C-section or feel you have not yet recovered from childbirth, talk to your doctor first.)
- Lean in your loved ones. Share what you’re feeling with your partner and tell them what you think would help you. A friend or a trusted family member will not only offer you emotional support but surely want to help with the baby and the chores of the house.
- You could also comfort yourself with other moms who just gave birth. Ask at the hospital where you have just given birth if there are groups of mothers in your area where you can seek emotional support. In the community of BabyCenter, you will also find many mothers in solidarity that will help you overcome the difficulties of this phase.
How will I know if I have postpartum depression?
Sadness is often mistaken for postpartum depression because they have many common symptoms. However, while postpartum sadness decreases over time, postpartum depression becomes more intense and persistent and should be treated as soon as possible. And how do you know which one you have?
During the first two weeks after childbirth, you should expect some emotional disorder. But if you continue to feel this way for more than two weeks after you have given birth, you should call your doctor to seek professional help. Call first if you have a lot of anxiety or a family history of depression.
And if you cross your mind thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, seek professional help immediately.
What to do when someone you know feels sad after childbirth
The best that husbands or companions, family and friends can do is to assure the new mom that many women feel that way after having a baby. Remember that you probably feel exhausted and insecure, and if it’s your first child, being a mom is a whole new thing for her. No wonder he feels so overwhelmed!
Just listen to it, help with what you can and offer emotional support. Let her cry if she needs it. Tell her how wonderfully well she’s doing her part. Keep the visits to the minimum. Answer the phone for her and tell her that the house doesn’t have to be perfect now, that the most important thing is to rest and feel good. Help her with the chores of the house and set priorities. There are things to do every day, but there are others that can wait.
In our culture, it is very traditional that moms who have just given birth pass through the period of the quarantine, in which the mother of the parturient, the mother-in-law or another person, takes care of her to give time to rest and allow her to concentrate on the baby.
But sometimes the mother doesn’t have close relatives or people who could care for her, or she doesn’t have the kind of life that lends her to this wise tradition.
That’s why it is important that the couple or family that is next to the mom insist that she takes the time to take care of herself and rest as much as possible. Offer to take care of the baby while she sleeps a nap. And above all let him know that you are there to support her at all times.