When you come out of the shower, you find yourself prioritising which pad to wear first- the one for the leaking breasts or the one for your bleeding vagina. That’s as exhausting as it gets when it comes to life immediately after child birth! I have been writing this long pending post ever since I came back home from the hospital 2 days after my son – Aryan’s birth. Almost every other night, I was adding a few lines to it and by the end of 6 weeks, I was just about to post it here, then the reality of ”a first time mother without ANY HELP” hit me hard when I started receiving messages from some of my Instagram followers. All the messages had the same compliment, ”you are making it look easier”, I had to stop myself, I talked to myself and said, is it too early, you don’t know IT ALL yet, people are getting wrong impression about postpartum life, I don’t want to give anyone any impression that its a walk in the park, may be I should slow down for others to believe that I’m no superwoman, I am struggling (yet I’m making an effort to live life to the fullest with best of my ability) to care a newborn who is entirely dependent on me, so my inner voice admitted that I should give myself some more time, observe my current life more closely, battle my struggles out and share this post when I think I’ll have some solutions instead of sharing just the problems. After all sharing problems without solutions are nothing but random ranting.
Postpartum depression hits about 1 out of 7 new mothers. Signs of postpartum depression include;
- feeling overwhelmed
- being overly tired or not tired at all
- feeling imbalanced and generally not happy.
Most often this is a hormonal situation in your body that needs to get evaluated and treated by a healthcare professional. PPD is still an illness that many don’t talk about, but looking at the numbers we know it happens to a lot of new mums — and even dads! If you are feeling balanced, happy and just more tired than usual, great! If you are feeling blue, don’t be ashamed. The important thing is to talk to someone about it. If you notice that your partner is not the same person anymore don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare provider.
How to stay calm and relaxed!
Create rituals with your baby
Babies love rituals since it makes them feel safe and helps in their development. The ritual could be to change your little one into a sleeping bag at night, sing a lullaby when changing his nappy, massage your baby every morning or a give him a baby bath before bedtime. If Daddy (or your baby rearing partner) always gives your baby a bath, this brings an added layer of ritual. Encouraging your partner to be involved in this kind of activity helps pull them into the daily routine.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
Make sure you are still watching your sleep. Take a nap during the day when your baby sleeps and keep the lights dimmed when you feed your baby at night. This will show your little one that there is nothing interesting going on and he can go right back to sleep after the feeding.
Use the 5 S’s to calm down your baby
Swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking are the 5 S’s that soothe babies quickly. Put your swaddled baby in your arms on its side against your belly while giving your finger to suckle on. Then you sway back and forth while shushing rhythmically in your baby’s ear. After a few minutes your baby will calm down.
What could help you regain your energy and body? Whether it’s a yoga class, a walk in the park, a massage or good cup of coffee with a friend. Get out and do something for yourself or your relationship with your partner. Becoming parents is a big change and it’s important to stay connected to each other and the outside world.
Your emotions after labour
After birth, your body changes rapidly. Having a baby can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It can bring much joy, but it can also challenge you in ways you never expected. Soon after giving birth, many women feel weepy and moody. You may be blessed with a beautiful baby and a loving partner, yet you find yourself crying or complaining over things that usually wouldn’t bother you. You may also feel exhausted, unable to sleep or sleeping a lot. You may also feel trapped or anxious. Your appetite may increase or decrease, or you might feel irritable, nervous, worried about being a good mother, or afraid that being a mother will never feel better than it does right now. Rest assured: All these feelings — known as the “baby blues” or “postpartum blues” — are normal during the first couple of weeks after childbirth. In fact, up to 80 percent of new mums experience them.
Emotional factors also contribute to the blues. You may feel anxious about your baby’s well-being, your transition to motherhood, or adjusting to your new routine. Your new responsibilities can feel overwhelming.
The good thing is that the baby blues aren’t an illness, and they will go away on their own. No treatment is necessary other than reassurance, support from family and friends, rest, and time. Sleep deprivation can make the blues worse, so make an effort to rest whenever you can. Even a ten-minute nap can leave you feeling better.
Role of partners, friends, and relatives
The best thing you can do is reassure the new mother that many women feel this way after giving birth. She’s exhausted, she’s unsure of herself, and, if it’s her first child, she’s never done any of this before. No wonder she feels overwhelmed! Just listen to her. Encourage her to cry if she needs to. Tell her what a wonderful job she’s doing. Keep visitors to a minimum. Take phone messages for her. Tell her she doesn’t have to send out birth announcements now. Make dinner for her. Help her create a schedule and set priorities — things that must be done versus things that can wait. Insist that she rest as much as possible, and volunteer to watch the baby while she naps. Above all, let her know you’re there for her no matter what.
Baby blues or postpartum depression?
People often confuse the baby blues with postpartum depression (PPD) because they have common symptoms. So how do you know whether you’re going through the baby blues or a clinical depression?
If you’re in the first couple of postpartum weeks, expect some emotional upheaval like mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. But if you continue to feel this way for more than two to three weeks after giving birth, call your doctor or midwife and seek professional support. The same goes if you have a history of depression, if there’s depression in your family of origin, or if symptoms — such as negative thoughts or feelings of anxiety — are particularly troublesome.
Preparing yourself for post-birth changes
Being pregnant and giving birth can both have a huge impact on you physically and emotionally. It can take time for you to get your energy back and feel ‘normal’ again. To help you be more prepared, find out about some of the things you may experience.
Your breasts will feel soft to begin with because, during the first few days, your newborn only needs a little colostrum (the nutritious milk that’s full of important protective antibodies). Once your milk comes in, after three or four days, your breasts will feel firmer and may be hot and tender as they adjust to the new supply.
With nine months of anticipation, the stresses of labour, the joy of meeting your baby, the realisation that you’re a mother now, and major hormonal changes, the first few days after birth are hugely emotional.
So, you may well feel weepy during the week after giving birth – particularly if you are very tired, in pain or experiencing other problems. However you feel, try to rest as much as possible to give your body and mind a chance to recover and get used to motherhood.
Your nether regions
Unsurprisingly, you may feel sore, bruised or swollen around your vagina after giving birth.
If you have had stitches, healing time can vary depending on the type of stitches. Perineal stitches can take between two and four weeks to heal, whereas caesarean stitches generally take around six weeks.
There will also be some discharge called lochia. It may start off blood-coloured, but becomes lighter and browner, slowly changing to pale pink over the following two to six weeks. You may experience a weaker bladder too, so tone up your internal muscles with regular pelvic floor exercises.
Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.