Most mums go through a brief period of feeling emotional and tearful after childbirth. Your body is going wild with all of those lovely hormones and sometimes after the initial excitement; you can hit the earth with a bump – known as the ‘baby blues.’ The blues usually start a week or so after giving birth and affects around 80 percent of new mums. In fact, the blues are so common that they are considered completely normal. Be aware that this feeling doesn’t last too long, is important to be and is generally quite manageable with a good support network of helping hands around you.

Around 10-15 percent of new mums go on to develop a more concerning and longer term depression known as postnatal depression (PND). It usually develops within six weeks of giving birth and begins gradually or comes on all of a sudden. It can range from being relatively mild to very severe.

You need to remember that if you experience the baby blues or even if PND develops, that there is help at hand. Be aware of how you are feeling and seek help. You might just need someone to talk to as it is such a huge change to your life

Common Signs of Postnatal Depression

• Exhausted but can’t sleep.
• Lacking concentration.
• Feeling sad and low.
• Crying for no apparent reason.
• Feeling hopeless or helpless.
• Feeling unable to cope.
• Becoming irritable and angry.
• Feeling guilty.
• Becoming hostile or indifferent to your partner or baby.

Overcoming PND

Be honest about how you are feeling and speak to someone. Ask for help when you need it. Try to get out of the house at least once per day. Even if it means getting baby in to the buggy and going to the shops. Fresh air and a new environment will help you feel more in touch with the rest of the world.

Meet other mums in your area. You may be the first of your friends to have a baby and this can be very lonely. Go to mum and baby classes such as baby massage (studies have shown baby massage improved the mother-baby bond and helps you interpret baby’s cries.)

Consider post-natal mum and baby yoga too. You can start practising gentle yoga 6-8 weeks after a normal birth and 8-10 weeks after a C-section. Be guided by how you feel and always listen to your body. Post-natal yoga can help alleviate the symptoms of PND (remember all of that oxytocin!) and also encourages mum and baby bonding. The social aspect of these classes is so important too; sometimes all you need is a cup of tea and a chat.

Get some sleep. The sleep deprivation post baby is overwhelming. My son is now three and I still struggle with night waking and 5am starts. Ask your partner, mum, friend, anyone who can help to sit with baby for a couple of hours to allow you to catch up on your sleep. You are still a very important person and need to be rested and well in order to look after your new baby so catch some zeds when they are on offer.

The main thing is not allowing yourself feel worse by seeing yourself as weak or as an inadequate parent because you feel low. The fact that you care shows that you are a fantastic mum that’s having a hard time. Every mum has been there, so please just reach out and speak to someone.

This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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