Your postpartum emotions


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Your Postpartum Emotions: The Baby Blues & You

September 4, 2012 by Dr. Christina Hibbert

​Up to 80% of all new mothers will experience what is called the “baby blues.” If you are aware of this, then lucky you, as many families have no idea what is in store emotionally after the baby is finally here.

Postpartum Emotions for Moms and Dads

Too many families are  never told that four out of five moms will feel sad, frustrated, tearful, anxious, and/or overwhelmed, what many women describe as “an emotional roller coaster,” in the first days or weeks postpartum. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that your emotions might be a little out of whack after pregnancy and childbirth, considering all your body and mind have been through. The abrupt changes in hormones, sleep deprivation, and the psychological adjustment to becoming a parent, not to mention the exhaustion of labor and delivery, can easily trigger fluctuations in emotions.

And those first few days are not just tough on moms either. A dad can also have the baby blues and is more likely to have symptoms if his partner has symptoms too. It’s sadly ironic that just when we parents desire to be at our very best, we are often physically and emotionally at a disadvantage.

The Good News

The good news is that the baby blues are temporary. Neither a “diagnosis” nor a “disorder,” the baby blues are a normal reaction to the stress surrounding childbirth, and symptoms should improve within two weeks or so. Knowing this helps normalize the craziness we feel those first few days and relieves the layers of stress we add when we start to fear we are not “normal.” Feeling emotionally abnormal at this time is, in its own way, normal. And telling ourselves we’re “normal” can be just the relief we need, even if we are the only ones saying so.

What Can We Do?

So here are a few things couples can do to safely navigate the baby blues:

1) Education: Learn all you can about postpartum emotional adjustment; it can help normalize your symptoms and also tell you if or when it may be time to get some outside help.

2) Practical Support: Let others help with housework, childcare, and other basic duties. This can give you the space you need to let yourself (and your emotions) settle in and heal. It can also give you a chance to catch up on that much-needed sleep; sleep deprivation is likely wreaking havoc on your emotional state!

3) Emotional Support:

Turn to a trusted friend, partner, or family member for support. It’s OK to feel what you’re feeling, and having someone who is ok to let you feel it may be just what you need.

4) Partner Support: My best advice for couples is to be patient and kind with one another. Realize this time for what it is – a temporary adjustment period when a tiny baby has all the power and the helpless adults are simply trying to keep up!

Beyond the Baby Blues

The baby blues can feel very permanent, but they really should only last for a few days or maybe a couple of weeks. If your “blues” are hanging on longer than two weeks, or if your symptoms seem to be getting worse, you may be experiencing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder. Seeking counsel from an expert in perinatal mental health can help determine what your emotions are really up to and give you the tools you need to overcome them.

Hang In There!

Your emotions may feel out of whack, but that’s just part of having a baby. Eventually your body and emotions will resume a more “normal” routine. In the meantime, hang in there. It really does get easier over time, and it really is OK to just give in a little bit and go along for the ride.

Dr. Christina Hibbert

Dr. Christina Hibbert

​Dr. Christina Hibbert is a clinical psychologist based in Arizona and an expert on postpartum mental health, women’s emotional health, and motherhood. In 2005 she founded the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, a nonprofit that educates women, families, and providers on perinatal mental health. Dr. Hibbert is also the producer of the internationally sold insights on topics such as grief, loss, and postpartum wellness. A mother of six, she is currently finishing up her first book, This Is How We Grow. In this post, Dr. Hibbert outlines the causes, signs, and remedies for the “baby blues,” insisting that such feelings are common, temporary, and maybe even normal. DVD Postpartum Couples and a sought-after speaker, sharing her insights on topics such as grief, loss, and postpartum wellness. A mother of six, she is currently finishing up her first book, This Is How We Grow.

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