Your bundle has finally arrived and everyone is overjoyed, but you. On the inside, you’re feeling irritable, angry, sad, and more importantly, confused. This should be the happiest moment of your life, but you feel far from it.
During the first month after baby arrives, called the postpartum period, it is common for women to feel a swinging change in moods within the first week after delivery. This is what is commonly coined as “baby blues”. Here’s what you need to know about this psychological condition.
At least 5 in 10 mothers experience baby blues
According to the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health, around 85 per cent of women will experience some type of mood disturbance but these are usually short-lived. However, about 10 to 15 per cent of women will develop more significant mental health issues, like postpartum depression.
Baby blues is a normal experience
Since a large percentage of mothers do experience baby blues during the first few weeks after delivery, thus it can be considered a normal experience than a psychiatric illness. Women with baby blues usually report mood swings, anxiety, irritability and tearfulness with little or no sadness. These symptoms are typical within the first week and may last a few hours to a couple of days, but will wear off after a couple of weeks.
Sleep it off
Postpartum blues are often the result of a sudden change in schedule. The best way to treat it is to get in as much rest as possible. In the meantime, accept help from family and friends with daily household chores so that you can focus on bonding with baby. Set aside time to look after your own needs as well, and stay away from alcohol which can make mood swings worse.
But don’t treat it lightly
Portpartum blues can usually be ridden out but it should be noted that there are occasions where the blues develop into a more significant mood disorder. Those who have a history of anxiety and depression are best advised to seek medical opinion should symptoms of depression persist longer than two weeks.
When it gets dangerous
Postpartum depression typically develops over the first couple of months after delivery but may occur any time postpartum. Symptoms are similar to baby blues but may become more serious with feelings of guilt, poor concentration and suicidal thoughts. Externally, a mother with postpartum depression may show very little interest in her newborn, and may have possible thoughts of harming her. Some mothers also develop an obsession over their baby’s health, which may lead to postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder. In such cases, it’s best to see a doctor.
This information was readapted from an original article published in the October issue of Singapore’s Child.