How to Beat the Baby Blues

During our childbirth preparation session at the hospital, our instructor dedicated a whole evening class to it. Every pregnancy and childbirth book I read discussed it. Moms forewarned me about its potential. Even at the hospital after George’s birth, I was spoken to at length about it.

The emotions that accompany pregnancy are truly something to behold, and the same is true for the emotions experienced during the postpartum period. It makes sense. Your body just conquered a huge feat, and because you are no longer sustaining a life in the same way you did while pregnant, there is a major shift in hormones that is significant enough to drive even Ghandi mad.

This hormonal shift and the inconsistent emotions it produces is often referred to as “the baby blues”*. The baby blues are manifested by frequent bouts of crying, extreme exhaustion, fear about being a mom, isolation, and irritability. Most women experience some level of the baby blues after giving birth, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. However, it can take a mom by storm. So the more a mom can be prepared for dealing with the baby blues, the better she will be able to handle the blues when they come around.

beat-baby-blues

1. Sleep when baby sleeps. Seriously. It’s natural to want to sit around and look at your precious new baby all day. After all, you can’t miss any detail of their physique or any facial expression they may make in their sleep, right?! I understand. And I am SO guilty of not sleeping when the baby sleeps. But I paid for it. The baby blues hit much harder when you are not well-rested (as well-rested as you can be with a newborn). So take advantage of nap time and close your eyes as well. You will be much more ready to enjoy those baby facial expressions once you have more energy.

2. Take placenta capsules. I go into the benefits of encapsulating your placenta here. In my experience, I’ve found that it certainly helps balance hormones.

3. Get out of the house. Take a walk. Go to the post office. Swing by Starbucks’ drive thru to get a coffee. Stand in your front yard in the sun for five minutes. Just get.out.of.the.house. When you spend all day with a newborn who is in constant need of your attention and your body for comfort and survival, your home can start to feel more like a prison. Be sure to get out and see the light of day. A little fresh air can clear your head. A little interaction with the outside world can refresh your spirit.

4. Talk with your spouse beforehand and give him a heads up. For dad, seeing you in emotional distress can feel crippling. They may become confused and feel helpless, which often leads to their desire to want to shut down. So before baby gets here, be sure to talk with your man about the baby blues. Help him understand what to be on the look out for in your behavior so that he can pinpoint if/when you start to slip into the blues. This will help you all avoid unnecessary conflict and division and instead empower you to work together as a team to provide mutual support and understanding.

5. Essential oils. Diffusing essential oils every morning (when I knew George was going to be fussy) helped me not slip into desperation when the crying began. I usually diffuse Joy, a blend of Valor and Peppermint, or a blend of Lavender, Peace and Calming, and Gentle Baby. These oils helped calm both me and baby and helped my head stay clear and focused on reality.

6. Pray with Scripture. Commit four encouraging Bible verses to memory and repeat them to yourself when you feel down. The Word of God will sustain you in the realest way.

7. Ask for help. Don’t go it alone! We are not meant to! Ask for help from your spouse, any other family members, and friends. People are SO willing to help out, but they won’t know that you need help unless you ask! See if someone can watch the baby for a few minutes while you run a few solo errands, shower, or take a nap. Ask someone to help you with dinner or laundry so you don’t feel overwhelmed. I’m telling you, people want to help, just ask!

8. Don’t push yourself. Our culture has this crazy idea that within six weeks of giving birth, a woman should be completely back to normal physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Ha! When does that ever happen?! How could things ever be the same? You have this new little life relying on you in a unique way. Things are not the same. You are not the same. And that’s a good thing. But don’t push yourself to get back into your “normal” routine. Take your time. I promise you, if you push it, you will crash and burn (I did).

9. Shower. Spend a few minutes in a nice, hot shower. Breathe deeply and enjoy some quiet time to yourself. Feel refreshed and clean. A shower can do mighty things for a mama.

10. Hold your baby. I found that, in my experience, whenever the bouts of crying would ensue, all I wanted was to hold the baby. I’m not sure why, but it was an instinct so strong I couldn’t avoid it. So give it a shot! When you’re feeling overwhelmed or sad, have some skin to skin time with your little one. Shut everything else out and just cuddle. Kiss her, smell her, count her arm rolls. This closeness will help solidify your bond and in turn remind you that you CAN do this, and that no one else could be a better mom to her than you.

How about you veterans out there? Any other advice you would tack on to this list?

*Note that the baby blues are not the same thing as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is much more common than I believe most people realize and again, it’s nothing to hide or be ashamed of. The general rule of thumb is that if the “baby blues” feelings last more than two weeks after birth, then you might be experiencing postpartum depression. If you ever think you fall into this category, seek help from someone as soon as possible.

Comments

  1. I cried SO much after Noah was born, it was crazy. I was not expecting it to be that emotional afterwards, but it was lol. My midwife really encouraged me to drink about a quart of red raspberry leaf tea every day. It helps tone your uterus back into shape AND helps you with the hormones. I could tell a difference on the days I actually drank the amount I was supposed to.

    I can’t wait to try essential oils this time around 🙂

  2. This is such a perfect list! One thing that helped me a ton was that my friends put together a CareCalendar for our family. Usually the women and sometimes the whole family would come over to drop by a meal and hold our newborn/play with our oldest. The company alone was so nice for me (since we’ve had cesareans it’s harder to get out on my own post-partum for the first couple months)!

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