Do I Have Baby Blues or PND?
During the first week after childbirth, most women get what is called the 'baby blues' or 'day three blues'. Day three blues are so called because they typically occur between the third and tenth days after your baby is born - usually just after you have arrived home from hospital and are still struggling with dirty nappies, endless feeding and a total lack of sleep! It's really not surprising you don't feel quite like your usual self.
What to Expect After Giving Birth
Two out of every three new mothers will suffer from the baby blues. Symptoms can include feeling emotional and irrational, bursting into tears for no reason, feeling irritable or touchy or feeling depressed or anxious. The baby blues can be responsible for all sorts of emotions, anything from weeping bucket loads in response to a 'hallmark moment' on TV, to feeling like your world is falling apart because the dishes haven't been done.
All these symptoms are normal - so don't panic and think you are alone. Baby blues are probably due to the sudden hormone and chemical changes which take place in your body after childbirth, not to mention the way life as you know is turned upside down while you get to grips with looking after your new-born. The good news is that these feelings will usually only last a day or two and will pass.
Stay positive and remind yourself that the baby blues is just a temporary, hormonal phase related to the birth of your baby. It is difficult and challenging to adjust to life with a new-born baby, but with support from family and friends, you will soon be feeling happier and much more like your normal self.
However, for approximately one in ten women who have babies, the baby blues linger and develop into something further and far more serious - postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after delivery. In some cases the baby blues do not go away or the depression can appear up to six months or even a year after the birth of the baby. Some symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you have just had a baby, but usually these are mild and do not stop you leading a normal life. With postnatal depression, the negative feelings are usually more intense and you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent and looking after yourself or your baby may become too much. Some other signs of postnatal depression are:
- persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- inability or lack of interest to take care of yourself and/or your baby
- feelings of failure as a mother, and guilt about your feelings
- memory loss or inability to concentrate
- feelings of panic/panic attacks
- obsessive-compulsive thoughts or behaviour
If you suspect you are feeling more than what is described as the baby blues or day three blues, then you should see a doctor for information and support. It's important not to suffer in silence and to get some help.
Are There Any Solutions?
There are also other things you can do to try to lighten your load and lift your spirits. Ask for (and accept!) help from family and friends. Don't try to be a superwoman and do it all. See if your partner can take some nighttime shifts with the baby so you can get some sleep. Try and get out of the house at least once a day for fresh air and a change of scenery. Lastly, get support from others. You might find it helpful to contact the Association for Postnatal Illness, Meet-a-Mum Association (MAMA) or the National Childbirth Trust.
Recognise that baby blues and postnatal depression are common (as in - you are definitely not alone!) and if you feel that you are experiencing more than baby blues, seek help. You can take comfort that with treatment, most women recover completely from postnatal depression - especially when it's diagnosed and treated early. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you'll be feeling happier and enjoying the time you spend with your beautiful baby!