Updated: Sep 9
Baby Blues for First-Time Parents
Most parents are excited to welcome their new babies, actively imagining a wondrous and peaceful transition from the hospital to home and into parenthood. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always live up to our expectations. Up three out of every four new moms will experience some symptoms of the postpartum “baby blues.” Here’s what you should know.
Up to 80% of first-time moms experience the “baby blues.”
The baby blues are usually short-term, typically start a few days after delivery, and last a few weeks.
Postpartum depression is more severe and long-lasting.
Telling the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression can be difficult; always seek professional help when in doubt.
Lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.
First-time parents usually expect to feel over the moon about their little bundle or bundles of joy. But for more than half of new moms, different feelings set in. You might feel overwhelmed, anxious, moody, or sad. You may wonder what’s wrong with you, and why you don’t feel the happiness and excitement of parenthood as you imagined. And it’s likely to make you feel scared as well; will you feel this way forever?
Symptoms of the baby blues
Welcoming a baby to the family is a big change. It’s normal – and even healthy – for such a big change to evoke a wide variety of emotions. Having a new baby comes with a lot of feelings and an increase in stress. Some experts estimate that up to 80% of moms will experience the “baby blues.” Managing the Baby Blues for First-Time Parents can be particularly challenging especially if you don't know what you are feeling.
Here are some of the symptoms you may experience:
Feelings of sadness
Feelings of overwhelm
Feeling inadequate or unprepared as a parent
Worrying about bonding with your baby or your baby’s development
You should know that you aren’t alone if this is happening to you. It’s also important to know that the baby blues are short-term. If symptoms persist, speak to your doctor because you might be experiencing postpartum depression.
Why do baby blues happen?
Several factors during the postpartum period can contribute to the baby blues. Your hormone levels change after you give birth. This in and of itself can affect your moods.
There’s also the likelihood of physical exhaustion: You literally just gave birth to a small human; of course you are physically exhausted and need rest…but now you need to care for and feed said small human around the clock. Your sleep schedule is likely to be unstable until baby settles into a routine. This lack of sleep coupled with physical exhaustion and changes to your hormones is very likely to produce changes in your mood. That’s why baby blues are so common for new moms.
The differences between the baby blues and postpartum depression
Generally, the baby blues start one to two days after baby’s arrival and typically last for one to two weeks. Sometimes, though, more severe and long-lasting changes happen, leading to postpartum depression. Postpartum anxiety is also possible, and in very rare cases, postpartum psychosis can occur. It’s helpful to know the difference between normally occurring baby blues and postpartum depression.
The baby blues:
When you’re experiencing the baby blues, mood swings happen quickly. You can feel anxious one minute and overjoyed about parenthood the next.
You may fall behind on your own self-care because of exhaustion as you try to settle into a routine with your little one.
You feel irritable, overwhelmed, and anxious.
Postpartum depression is more severe and pervasive. You feel alone, overwhelmed, and/or sad the majority of the time.
You may fall behind on your self-care with postpartum depression as well, but it will more likely be driven by your feelings of sadness and despair as opposed to physical exhaustion.
You might experience anxiety and/or panic attacks.
You frequently question your ability to parent and feel inadequate as a mother.
You may struggle to bond with your baby.
You may have difficulty tending to your baby’s needs due to your mental health.
You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
You have frequent thoughts about death and dying.
As you see, some symptoms can be similar. The baby blues will generally resolve independently with time, rest, and self-care. But postpartum depression is longer lasting, sometimes lasting for months, and it can become progressive.
How can I manage the Baby Blues?
Lifestyle changes and support can help with both the baby blues and postpartum depression. Here are some tips that can help:
Get your sleep: Not only do you need rest to recover from the physical trauma of childbirth but you also need rest to take care of yourself and your baby. If possible, nap when your baby naps. Nighttime interruptions will happen but you can still practice good sleep hygiene, limit your caffeine intake, and allow your partner to wake up with the baby for feedings sometimes.
Ask for help: Being a new mom can be overwhelming and it may take you a while to find your groove. It’s okay to ask for help! Need some support with household labor? Ask. Need someone to watch the baby so you can sleep? Ask. Let your needs be known.
Don’t isolate: While it’s tempting to stay home and isolate after having a baby, it’s important that you get out of the house and do adult things, like go out with friends for brunch. Maintaining social ties and connections is crucial for good mental health.
Manage your expectations: Talk to your family members and friends about their experiences with motherhood. Knowing what to expect can help you manage your expectations. Friends and family may also have helpful tips or coping skills they can share. Hearing the stories of others may also help you realize that you’re dealing with more than the baby blues, and can encourage you to reach out and get professional help if needed.
If you think you’re dealing with postpartum depression, seek professional help. Your doctor may recommend medications, counseling, or a combination of both.
Get support from a qualified therapist in the South Florida area
Getting help from a professional can provide you with the support you need to transition into parenthood and give you a safe space to process such a major transition. Individual therapy can be beneficial to increasing your coping skills and help you build resiliency. Postpartum mental health doesn’t just affect you; it can also affect your partner and your relationship, so couples counseling may also be helpful.
The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to get started in therapy to help facilitate healing within yourself and your interpersonal relationships, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 305.605.LOVE (5683).
We are here to help you improve your mental health and support you through this tough time.