Monday, May 31, 2010

@ baby blues

It seems to make no sense: At a time when you expected to be so happy, you feel down, weepy, moody, or irritable. In fact, there are very good reasons why about half of new moms get the so-called baby blues.

During the first weeks home with a baby, sleep deprivation, recovery from childbirth, the demands of newborn care, lack of experience with babies, and not having enough help can all be highly stressful. The huge hormonal shifts that occur after you give birth can also affect your moods, especially if you have a history of severe PMS. Then factor in modern America's expectations about moms "doing it all" and new moms being "blissed out," and you have the makings of a perfect storm for mild depression.

Knowing that these feelings are normal can help. It's a good idea to confide your feelings to people you love and trust: your partner, your parents, another relative, or a close friend. Connecting with other new parents online or in your community can help you see that you're far from alone.

Carve out time for yourself. Let your partner or a grandparent stay with your baby while you visit a friend, go shopping, or just take a relaxing bath. Even sitting outside or taking a walk with your baby in the fresh air can be beneficial.

Leave work behind. (HAHAHAHA) Really! Remember this is maternity leave. Turn off your cell phone and avoid your computer. Use these weeks to nurture your ties with your family.

If feelings persist more than a couple of weeks, tell your doctor. You may have postpartum depression (PPD), a more serious condition. The causes of PPD aren't completely understood, but it's not a reflection on whether you're a "good" mom or "coping well." Symptoms of PPD include extreme anxiety, panic attacks, changes in eating habits (overeating or loss of appetite), insomnia, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

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