It has been a few days, or perhaps a few weeks since you gave birth to your little one. You love your child, but sometimes you feel sad, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Motherhood feels different than you expected, as you struggle to adjust to your new role. From the late night feedings, to endless diaper changes, and shrieking newborn cries that you try to soothe – this is hard! Life as a new mother can feel isolating at times, but you are not alone. According to research between 70 and 80 percent of new mothers experience the “baby blues”. Baby blues are feelings of sadness, mood swings, crying, and exhaustion after the birth of your child which are caused by hormonal changes in your body. Your body has been through so many changes in the past 9 months. Growing and birthing a child are hard physical and emotional work, and you need to allow your body and mind time to adjust. While you are adjusting, here are some tips to help you deal with the “baby blues”.
Ask for Help
So often new mothers feel like they should be doing everything on their own. The phrase “it takes a village to raise a baby” isn’t around for no reason! If your partner or family are offering help, you may be struggling to accept it. As your body and mind are healing, it is important to remember that asking for help is ok. This can look like your partner doing the dishes as you spend some extra time cuddling your baby, or a family member watching the baby while you take a long hot shower. Do you ever feel like your partner should know what you are needing? I mean isn’t it obvious! Turns out many mothers feel this way. However, it is important to remember that your partner and family members may not know what you need. Give yourself permission to take the help that people are offering and ask for the help you need.
Fresh air is important for you and your baby. A short walk can improve your mood, energize you, and even help get your baby to sleep! Walking outside can reduce your muscle tension, lower your heart rate, and soothe your baby to nap. What if you gave birth in the winter and you feel it is too cold for a walk outside? Take a drive to your local mall and take a brisk walk around in the morning before the stores open. Just that short amount of time outside from the car to the mall can help improve your mood.
Talk With Someone About Your Feelings
No one told you that motherhood would feel like this in the first few weeks. It feels isolating, and like no one understands, but I can assure you that if you talk with other women about what you are feeling they can all relate. Join your local facebook moms’ group and find a “mom tribe”. Talk to your mother or other women in your family who are mothers. Talk about your feelings with people who understand, and get the support that you need.
Be Gentle With Yourself
Allow yourself time to heal. Understand that during this time of healing, you may not be able to do everything yourself. Your perfect vision of parenting may be out of reach. You are kind to other people, so why not be kind to yourself? Forgive yourself for any mistakes that you may make. You are learning and adjusting, and so is your baby. You are doing a great job! If this is not your first baby, you might feel like you are juggling so many things at once – a crying newborn and a toddler fighting for your attention. It is ok if you can’t have it all together all the time, and refer back to tip one – ask for help!
Take Time for Self-Care
Perhaps this feels impossible right now. Your baby seems to need you 24/7, how could you possibly find any time for self-care? It might be hard to imagine taking some time to yourself. However, making time for self-care can help you be the best mother you can be. Start off with just two minutes a day of self-care. It can be anything from deep breathing, or taking a hot shower.
Practice these tips daily, and you should see some relief. However, if your feelings of sadness, anger, and exhaustion last longer than two weeks and are impacting your daily life and ability to care for your child, you may be experiencing a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMADs). If what you are experiencing feels like more than just “baby blues”, learn more about PMADs here.
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Jessica is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping those struggling with postpartum depression and birth trauma. Jessica creates a safe place for her clients to share their stories and develop the necessary skills to thrive. Jessica specializes in treatment for children, families, and mothers.