Dealing with the baby blues during the postpartum period can be a huge surprise to new moms. I know that it was for me.
I had a small inkling that it may take a few weeks for my postpartum emotions to level out, but in reality, it took me a few months, and some days I felt downright bizarre.
I, of course, being the recovering perfectionist that I am, expected everything to be perfect. I expected myself to bounce right into joyful, blissful motherhood without any blips or hiccups.
I expected my body to feel and look completely normal by the time I got home from the hospital.
And I expected for my baby to fall into a relatively normal sleep pattern (maybe waking once or twice a night) quickly and easily.
I was of course surprised (I was so naive!) when none of these things happened!
Now that I have gone through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum adjustments nine different times, I have a few words of wisdom to pass out to anyone who want them!
Baby Blues- Prepare During Pregnancy
I figured I would physically bounce back right away and be cooking meals without any problem. I was wrong. My pelvis felt wonky and achy for several weeks, I was exhausted from a long labor and sleepless nights, and I didn’t factor in how many times per day and for how long I would be nursing in those early weeks.
Getting dinner on the table ended up feeling impossible! Once I caught on (probably after baby #4) that the first weeks after a new baby arrives are crazy, I started feeding my freezer with freezer meals during my last trimester.
Baby Blues- Lower Your Expectations
I also had this crazy idea that I was going to instantly transform into Donna Reed after my baby was born (I was young, what can I say?). I figured since I only had one baby, I’d be able to keep the house immaculate.
I set super high expectations for myself that there was just no way for me to meet.
During the first three months postpartum, it’s important to lower your expectations in regards to housekeeping. Do what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.
This is of course, easier said than done. Can I get an Amen! from all the perfectionists out there?
The Tiny Task Method has you break down your chores into short 2-4 minutes bursts, so that you can plug in a few tasks throughout the day when you only have a small amount of time to get it done.
One it’s own, the Tiny Task doesn’t accomplish much, but if you are able to plug in 4-5 tiny task per day, you start making progress.
Go check out my Tiny Task blog post and download the free worksheet to show you how I do it!
Baby Blues- Get Some Sleep
Sleep is so, so, so important. It’s really vital, and not just for you, for your baby too.
How do you feel when you are sleep deprived? Cranky, tired, out of sorts, overly-sensitive?
Your baby feels exactly the same way.
It has been my experience (and remember, I have 9 children, so that’s more experience than most moms), that once you get your baby into a predictable sleep routine, life starts to look and feel a lot better.
Your body feels better, your mind and emotions feel better, and your baby feels better too.
If you’d like to ready a little bit more about my experience using two totally different sleep philosophies, check out this blog post. *
Baby Blues- Talk to Your Spouse
Before I delivered my last several babies, I sat down and had the “postpartum hormones” talk with my husband.
I reminded him that my emotions will be a crazy roller coaster for the next few months, and that I needed his help riding it out.
I always make sure to bring up how I will go from happy and smiling to upset/angry and crying in the blink of an eye, and it probably won’t have anything to do with him.
It’s so important that your spouse has an idea of what to expect so that he doesn’t take it personally. It’s not personal, it’s hormones.
Signs You Need Help, Maybe Its More Than Baby Blues
Sometimes what starts out as baby blues (mood swings, anxiety, crying, irritability, etc) can turn into postpartum depression.
According to the Mayo Clinic symptoms of Postpartum depression include:
Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
* Depressed mood or severe mood swings
* Excessive crying
* Difficulty bonding with your baby
* Withdrawing from family and friends
* Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
* Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
* Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
* Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
* Intense irritability and anger
* Fear that you’re not a good mother
* Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
* Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
* Severe anxiety and panic attacks
* Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
* Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.
If you are having any of these symptoms, it’s time to talk to your OB/GYN, midwife, or family practitioner.
Baby Blues Conclusion
The three months postpartum can be tricky to navigate. Some days you won’t feel like yourself, some days you will feel absolutely amazing.
It’s so important to just give yourself the freedom to do the things that will help you navigate through the waters without drowning.
If you are having a great day with good energy levels, give yourself the freedom to do a little more than normal, but still pace yourself.
If you are feeling really low, give yourself permission to eat some extra dark chocolate, curl up with the baby on the couch and watch chic flicks, order takeout and forget about chores.
Before you know it, your hormones will level out, you’ll be in a predictable routine, and the real fun and joy of raising a new little human begins.
Need a little help figuring out why your baby is crying and how to make it all better? I’ve got just the thing! I created a flow chart just for you. Download it below!