What Is Baby Blues?
Baby-blues is basically mental stress conditions due to overwhelming situations after childbirth. It’s different from postpartum depression though.
Because postpartum depression is sort of worse condition than baby blues. It lasts longer than baby blues, and it also can cause anxiety and even panic attacks.
Apparently, four in five women experience the baby blues. And one in four women who had it can go into post-natal depression/ postpartum depression.
Baby blues was the last thing that I expected when I had my first baby. Yes, I read something about it. But I didn’t think I would have it because I had a very good pregnancy. So, I didn’t quite expect and prepare myself for it.
Unfortunately, I did experience the baby blues. It was around three days after I had my baby that I started having the symptoms.
Although it is thought that the main reason is that hormone changes after childbirth, the huge life change after you have your baby is an important reason.
The fact that you’re physically tired after giving birth to your bundle of joy, then followed by sleepless nights due to looking after your baby naturally can cause the baby blues.
Even when you’re physically fit, it may not be easy to constantly lack sleep and feed and look after the baby at the same time. On top of that, your body goes to the process of hormonal change.
In my case, I was totally shattered when my first baby arrived.
After two induction and good thirty-four-hour labor pain in fasting conditions, I ended up having an emergency Cesarean. So, when the nurse handed my baby to me, I was just simply too exhausted.
Then after that, I never had good night sleeps. So, physically I was too tired.
And being thousands of miles away from my own family and friends had made things worse. Because I couldn’t ask anyone for help even for little things like cleaning the house or cooking. Yes, I have the family of my husband. But they’re not the same as your own family, are they? Especially when you feel you just know them. Although my husband did help at the best he could in his free time, I could’ve done with more help.
Looking back, this what affected me mentally. I was merely tired and had no one to ask for help. It’s no wonder I had baby blues.
Normally baby blues last for days or a week. But mine lasted much longer than that. It was kinda on and off for months until my baby was nearly seven months old.
In hindsight, I might have had post-natal depression. If it was, it might’ve been a mild one. Because, thank God I managed to sort myself out and overcome this baby blues on my own. I never told anyone about what I was feeling. Because I didn’t want to worry anyone.
But really, if you think you’re having baby blues and it didn’t go away after a week, you should seek help and support from others. Don’t let it persist for too long. Because you don’t want it to become postpartum depression. God forbid.
The Baby Blues Symptoms
The symptoms of baby blues are similar to any stress symptoms. Generally, you feel unhappy and sad. You’ll be irritable, low mood, tired, no energy, etc. Mine were more like below:
* Emotional and weepy
Basically I was very emotional and teary. I cried over every little thing and felt helpless about many things.
* Fatigue and lack of energy
I felt tired all the time. But then again, I was bound to be tired. Because I hardly had a rest after the big Cesarean and constantly had sleepless nights due to feeding my baby. On top of that, I had to do other domestic housework whenever I was free from my baby. So naturally, I ran out of energy.
* Less motivation to do things
Because of fatigue, I became lazy and less motivated to do things. All I did was the bare minimum in everything, i.e. tidying and cleaning up the house.
I just couldn’t be bothered to do extra. But, this what can make things worse. Being in an untidy let alone dirty place is not good for your mental well-being. So when you find yourself ok with this situation, then you should know that there’s something wrong with you.
Physically exhausted and mentally worn out, I was like fireworks. I got emotional very easily. And at times I found many people quite offensive that I didn’t enjoy being with people.
Things That I Did To Overcome My Baby Blues
After a few days of constantly being miserable, I realized that I was having baby blues. Because you’ll know when something is not quite right with yourself. Especially when you constantly feel sad for no clear reasons.
The fact that I’m thousands of miles away from my own family and friends had made things more difficult for me. Basically I only had myself to my own device. I felt lonely and more depressed.
But deep down inside, I know I have to deal with it and change for the better.
So I tried to pull myself up and here are the things I did:
1. Write a long letter to myself
I remember writing this letter for the first time as I was nursing my baby.
In my letter, I wrote what I was feeling and asked questions to myself about why I was feeling that way. And I tried to give answers to every question that came to mind.
In other words, I tried to have a self-dialogue. I found this very helpful to clear a cloudy mind a little bit, if not a lot.
I used to write myself a letter whenever the baby blues hit me.
2. Write self-affirmation and self-encouragement
I think writing self-affirmation and self-encouragement helped me deal a lot with my sadness.
It also helped to heighten my self-esteem, as it was getting low when I had this baby blues.
As much as I wanted to do nothing at that time, I pushed myself to do extra. Especially, when it comes to self-care.
As soon as my baby having a morning nap, I would take a long nice shower. Then I put more effort to always dress up and put a little bit of make-up on.
I always feel that when we look after ourselves, my mood will be lifted up a bit.
4. Stop being hard on myself
I tried to be kinder to myself by allowing myself not to do too much. Especially if I already felt tired anyway.
When it comes to housework, I tried to plan and organize more about what I can do every day.
And if I couldn’t meet the target, I would forgive myself and tried not to worry about it.
I’d remind myself that ‘housework never ends’.
5. Establish a daily walking routine
We all know that exercise is really important for our health, right? But when we’re under a lot of stress, exercise becomes more crucial for us to get rid of the stress. Because the enzymes that our body produces after exercise can help to calm our nerves.
However, when you have a baby, doing exercise can be challenging. It’s not easy to find a special time dedicated to your exercise. The best thing is to go for a walk with your baby.
So I used to put my baby in the pram and take him out for a walk for at least one hour E. V. E. R. Y. D. A. Y.
I find that not only was walking good for me to overcome my baby blues, it also helped me recover from cesarean quickly. On top of that, it helped my baby to sleep better after the walk.
When I planned my menu, the food shopping and cooking became easier to do. I would know how much time I had to spend cooking.
Also, with the right plan, I don’t have to cook every day.
7. Change the timing to clean the house
Before the baby, I would normally tidy up the house in the morning as soon as my husband leaves for work.
But I couldn’t do that anymore. Because my baby didn’t like the white noise, i.e. vacuum cleaner, washing machine, etc. He would be unhappy and cried a lot.
So, I cleaned whenever my husband is at home. Or I would only use vacuum cleaner downstairs whenever my baby was fast asleep in his cot upstairs. And I would do upstairs whenever my husband is home. Basically I adjusted the timing to clean the house according to my situation.
8. Try to nap when my baby naps
It’s not always easy to have a nap at the same time as your baby having a nap during the day. Especially when your mind constantly reminds you of other million things to do, e.g: housework.
But I forced myself to at least chill and relax when my baby naps. Eventually, I got used to it that after some time I was able to nap when my baby naps.
This actually worked well. Because my baby slept even better if I lied down next to him.
9. Do what works for you
When you just had your first baby, you’ll be eager to learn about how to look after your baby. You’ll read and listen from all sorts of the source.
But I found that could stress me up. Because some advice may not be applicable to my circumstances.
So instead of getting worried about whether I was doing the right thing according to what others suggest, I would just do what I felt right and what worked for me and my baby.
For example, baby sleeping patterns and places. There is much advice on how to train the babies to sleep on their own and how to make them sleep longer.
I remember I tried one of the tips which are by putting down my baby on his cot just before he falls asleep. Did it work for me? Hell no.
It made things worse.
Because by doing that, I literally disturbed my baby and upset him. So instead, I would make sure he fell asleep first before I put him down.
10. Treat yourself a smile
No one knows us better than ourselves, right? So when we’re not happy, we’re the only one who knows best how to cheer ourselves up.
So think of something that can make you smile. Something you’d like to do. But, make sure it’s something positive though.
It can be as simple as meeting up with your new friends. Or maybe dancing to your favorite music? How about treating yourself with the food that you love? Or you can just watch that series on Netflix that you’d been wanting to watch. Anything.
As long it makes you smile and lift your mood up. Even if it’s only a little bit.
I did this to myself. I tried to make happy little bubbles every day and aimed to do one thing that can make me smile and happy every single day. And I’d do different things every time.
Being a first-time mom is exciting but it’s not as easy as we may think. It’s a huge life changer. You’ll experience changes physically, mentally and socially.
Therefore, when you have baby, you’re at high risk of having baby blues. Four in five women experience baby blues after childbirth. And sadly, one in four women who had baby blues can go into postpartum (postnatal) depression.
So it’s important for you to know what baby blues is, and to prepare yourself with a bit of knowledge about it
And when you have your baby after you relocated to a foreign land and live thousands of miles away from your family and friends, it’s even more important to recognize the symptoms of baby blues and postpartum depression.
Because, heaven forbids, if you have the baby blues, you don’t want to leave it too long. You’ll want to know when to seek help so that you can overcome your baby blues as soon as possible. As you don’t want your baby blues to become postpartum/ post-natal depression.
Baby blues symptoms can be:
- Low mood and irritability
- Over-sensitive and teary
Postpartum/ post-natal depression can have the following symptoms:
- All the symptoms of baby blues but more persistent and last long
- Feeling hopeless
- Being unable to cope with your baby
- Being unable to enjoy and bond with your baby
- Panic attack
- Pains and aches
- Generally unwell
Although I managed to overcome my baby blues (which I now think it could’ve been postpartum depression at some point) on my own, I strongly suggest you seek help and talk to your doctor if you think you have baby blues.
Don’t leave it too long. If the symptoms do not go away after a week, then you know you need to tell somebody. Don’t be silent. Let others know and help you.
All the best.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor nor am I a mental health practitioner. The content above is solely based on self-experience and must not be used as medical/mental health advice. If you have any concern with your mental health after childbirth, you should seek advice from an appropriate mental health practitioner/medical doctor.