As a brand new mother, I remember having so many ups and downs in my emotions. I would cry because my son was so beautiful and I was happy. I would cry because I was tired and just wanted to sleep. I was all over the place. My midwife assured me that I had what is called “baby blues” and not to worry. Of course, if you have read my story then you know that my up and down emotions developed into much more than a bit of baby blues.
If you are a new parent or know a new parent who has just had a little one, don’t be surprised by the range of emotions you may feel in the first few weeks. Or do be surprised, maybe, as I know motherhood can be quite a shock at the start, but there is no need for alarm just yet. Baby blues has symptoms including crying for no reason (or all the reasons, as it was for me), feeling unlike yourself, irritability and impatience, anxiety, and poor concentration. This is due to the lack of sleep experienced and the changing hormones as your body transitions out of pregnancy.
Postpartum depression happens beyond the first few weeks and can hit or progress for up to a year after the baby is born. I have known quite a few mothers who didn’t realise they had postpartum depression, and since they weren’t treated, it hit them hard after the baby turned 1. I am included in this. Looking back, I’m certain that I had postpartum depression and anxiety after my eldest was born, but I didn’t recognise it until my second child was close to a year old. By then, my symptoms were terribly bad.
So how do you know when your symptoms are baby blues or whether they have progressed into postpartum depression? I think a good deal of getting a diagnosis is having the self awareness to know whether or not you need help or not. Many times, postpartum depression goes undiagnosed because new mothers don’t have the time to sit and reflect for very long. Oftentimes, doctors and well-meaning friends and family tell mothers that they just have baby blues and should be fine with a bit of this or that (whatever they think will help). Let me just take a moment to be your friend that tells you that if you are still struggling a month or more after your newborn’s birth, talking to someone may be your best option. Talking to your GP, a counsellor, or a help line, can rule out more serious problems in the very least and get you the community and help you need to begin healing. Check out my resources page to find out more.