It’s normal to feel down and overwhelmed after welcoming a new baby. After all, it’s a big adjustment and can take time to get used to your new norm. But don’t automatically assume that baby blues are postpartum depression. You can feel sad after having a baby without it being PPD.
While postpartum depression is characterized by severe mood changes over a longer period of time, the baby blues last for a few weeks at max and the feelings aren’t continuous. You may feel irrationally upset and frustrated at times, but there will still be periods of joy.
Baby blues is often a part of the body going back to normal post-baby, which includes inflammation and hormonal fluctuations. But there are also things you can do to help improve your mood and overcome the blue, including the following.
Research has found that the more skin-to-skin contact parents have with their babies, the fewer signs of depression they show. For instance, one study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing found that moms who had six or more hours of skin-to-skin contact in their baby’s first week had significantly lower rates of depression.
9 Have A Support Network
It’s important to have a strong group of people in your life that you can rely on, whether you need help with the baby or just someone to vent to. These are people that should lift you up and make you feel better. Try to find a community of mom friends who can specifically relate to what you’re going through. Sign up for a parenting class or look on social media.
8 Get Enough Sleep
When you have a new baby, getting enough sleep can feel impossible. But it’s important to prioritize getting as much rest as possible, especially when dealing with baby blues. Various research has found that sleeping problems increase the risk of depression symptoms.
Johns Hopkins researcher Patrick H. Finan explained that sleep problems “create difficulties regulating emotions” which can leave a person “more vulnerable to depression.”
Consult your doctor if you need help overcoming sleep problems. They may be able to prescribe or recommend an over-the-counter medication to help.
7 Do Things That Bring Joy
You may find trouble carving time out for yourself with a baby, but it’s important to do acts of self-care, even if they’re just small. Doing things that bring you joy will instantly lift your mood and help you feel better as well as more settled in your new normal.
6 Get Some Fresh Air
Spending time outdoors and getting exercise are both proven to help improve mental health. As Mind Explains, being surrounded by nature can improve your mood, reduce negative feelings (like stress and anger), can boost confidence, and reduces loneliness.
Similarly, exercise helps release endorphins – brain chemicals that make us feel good – which can enhance our sense of well-being and fight symptoms of anxiety and depression.
5 Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps people become aware of their surroundings as well as what they’re feeling at the moment, free of judgment. It can include breathing methods, guided imagery, and other techniques to relax the body and mind. Meditating is an easy way to combat depression. You can do it over hours or only for a few minutes.
4 Eat A Balanced Diet
If you’re not getting enough nutrition, it can make your body feel groggy or tired. Certain foods have been found to help fight symptoms of depression. For example, as WebMD explains, complex carbs (like whole grains and fruits) can help calm the body, while protein-rich foods promote alertness.
3 Clean Up Your Space
It’s easier to feel overwhelmed if your environment is in complete chaos. With a newborn, you can’t expect your space to look perfect all the time.
But don’t let yourself get too behind on chores and organization. Taking a bit of time to tidy things up can greatly improve your mood and help you feel less stressed. Just remember it’s not the end of the world if things don’t get cleaned right away. As a new mom, there are bigger things to worry about.
2 Seek Professional Help
If your mood isn’t improving within a few weeks, especially if your mood seems to be getting worse, it may be time to seek professional help. It’s possible for baby blues to develop into postpartum depression. The risk for PPD is higher if you have a history of poor mental health.
The first person to speak with is the doctor observing your postpartum recovery. Describe your mood and other symptoms, and you should both be able to come up with a treatment plan.
1 Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Welcoming a new baby is a big adjustment, and it’s okay to need time to get used to your new normal.
Baby blues, as well as postpartum depression, are both common occurrences, and nothing to be ashamed about. What matters most is that you’re focusing on your overall well-being, so you can get to the best place for you and your baby.
Sources: JOGNN, Hopkins Medicine, Mind, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic, WebMD,
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