The Baby Blues
It’s January and so many of us suffer with the January Blues. It is little wonder that this is the best time of year for travel agents as we all start thinking about a little sunshine to look forward to.
As many children return to school after the Christmas holidays and my husband returns to work and we all settle back into our normal routine, I can certainly see similarities between the January Blues and the Baby Blues.
The Baby Blues are completely normal, and most new mums will suffer with them as it is mostly caused by hormones and chemical levels dropping the week after birth. It can lead mums to feel weepy, emotional, irritable, moody and anxious. Having a baby really is a huge task for a woman’s body and it will take a little time for the hormones to settle down again.
It isn’t just hormones that cause the baby blues though. Having a baby is a huge life changing event and can often leave you feeling overwhelmed, lonely and even isolated.
Here comes the parallel with the January Blues….. At Christmas, we are full festivities, surrounded by loved ones, all enjoying each other’s company, good food, wine and lots of activities going on. When a new mum arrives home with her baby, family and friends flock to greet the new baby, offers of cooking, housework, and offers to stay with the baby whilst you have a nap. Also, the fabulous two weeks paternity arrives so that in most families, the partner stays home for the first two weeks as well.
Then suddenly, the new mum is left alone as everyone returns to their normal routine, very much like when January arrives. Mum is suddenly left alone with her new baby, in those four walls that can feel claustrophobic but also like a safe haven at the same time. You desperately want to get out and socialise but with so little sleep and a baby to organise as well as yourself, anxieties can suddenly take over “What if baby screams as I do the shopping on my own?” “what if everyone can see that I don’t know what I’m doing and someone will take my baby away”, the self doubt can be crippling and plays into a new mother’s fears.
I remember taking my newborn son to the supermarket and all he did was scream from the moment we got in. I felt that all eyes were on me and the judgmental stares. The feeling was awful because I couldn’t do my shopping as his needs came first but he wouldn’t stop crying. I abandoned my shopping, got to the car, my tears joined my son’s and then I called a family member for help. I didn’t have postnatal depression, I don’t usually suffer from anxiety either but I did have those baby blues.
If you have just had a baby, or soon to have one, please be gentle on yourself. It is perfectly ok not to be ok at times. The instant rush of love that you have read about so much, may not happen. You are tired, overwhelmed and an awful lot is going on inside that amazing body of yours. Take time to bond with your baby, plenty of skin to skin and positive touch such as gentle baby massage.
If you find that the baby blues don’t ease with time and you are concerned that it may be postnatal depression then please, please go see your GP or Health Visitor. For further information on postnatal depression, there is a wonderful charity called PANDAS Foundation where you can find out more information and speak to a friendly, non-judgmental ear http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/