Postpartum period

Things I Wish I Knew After Having a Baby: Coping with the Changes

February 2, 2019, Author: Tamra Cater

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baby

It was almost scary to leave the sanctuary of the hospital, as I was a first time mom and didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t keep a plant alive, so how does this work?!??

And honestly, nobody prepared me for what happens during the postpartum period, which refers to the weeks that follow after delivery of a baby. I only thought I would be excited and over the moon about having a baby. And I was… But there were other things that came with this that I wasn’t exactly prepared for such as coping with all the changes that take place.

It was like clockwork, at around 5 pm for the week or 2 after the birth of my baby, I felt so sad and as if I couldn’t possibly control the sadness. I wanted to cry, and I did a few times. For a while, it was also very difficult to know how to function after a baby. Do I go to the grocery stores with the baby? What if she cries and screams? What will it be like when I go back to work? How do I still work and function if I only got 2 hours of sleep the night before?

There was the huge lack of sleep… There were hours at a time in the middle of the night that my baby would be awake, and I struggled to get her to sleep. I certainly had to learn some lullabies in a hurry! I’d also wake up with her in the morning, and I had a hard time staying awake. I would even “hallucinate” at times, as I went in and out of being asleep and being awake. Honestly, it did take us a while to get our baby to learn to sleep better, but one thing that helped was a baby soother. I used one that was similar to this one (If you want more information on it, click on the image):

baby soother

And then there was the bleeding.  I didn’t think it was possible to bleed for as long as I did after I had my baby.

There were so many questions and uncertainties that I had rumbling about in my head. My doctor and my daughter’s pediatrician would sometimes ask, “Are there any feelings of postpartum depression?” And that’s all they would ask. I wish they would have asked me more than that.

But again, I still felt lost and unprepared. Luckily though, I was able to figure things out, and I had the support of my husband and my friends. I also found good babysitters to help with my baby when I went back to work.

It’s normal to feel sad and some level of depression after having a baby, as we do experience a large number of immense changes such as with our mood, our body, our finances, etc.

What are the “baby blues”?

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2017), “Up to 70% of all new mothers experience the ‘baby blues,’ a short lasting condition that doesn’t interfere with daily activities and doesn’t require medical attention.” The baby blues do last about 10 days, and the symptoms generally aren’t severe enough to affect the mother’s functioning. However, the baby blues can be discomforting and shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed.

What is perinatal depression?

Some women will experience a more serious mood disorder that begins even before the baby is born. This disorder can affect the mother’s health and quality of life, but it can also affect the baby. For example, the baby may be born prematurely, and it may also result in feeding and sleeping problems.

Symptoms of perinatal depression

-Fatigue

-Feeling sad, hopeless

-Sleeping too much or too little

-Changes in appetite

-Crying for no apparent reason

-Lack of interest in the baby

-Feeling like a bad mother

-Fear of harming the baby or oneself

-A loss of interest or pleasure in life

What should you do if you are experiencing any of these symptoms?

Seek the help of a medical professional if you are experiencing several of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks or:

-You have thoughts of suicide or harming the baby

-Depressed feelings are getting worse

-You Having trouble with daily tasks or taking care of the baby.

Tips for Coping During the Postpartum Period

1.Sleep when the baby sleeps

It’s ok if the dishes aren’t done or the cleaning isn’t done. For your sanity and health, sleep when the baby sleeps.

2. Visit with friends

3.Talk to a family member or close friend about how you are feeling

4.Leave the baby with a trusted person and do something for yourself

5.Know that it does get easier

You will sleep again! I promise!

6. Be flexible 

I’m usually always early when it comes to getting somewhere, but when there’s a baby, unexpected things happen (such as a diaper blowout!) that may delay you getting somewhere on time. And that’s ok…

7.If someone offers to help you with something (such as giving you a dinner or babysitting), take it! 

8.Exercise 

This can help with stress. You might look into finding a gym that offers child care while you work out. For example, as far as I know, most YMCAs do!

The most important thing for me was to get back into a routine and to let things go as needed. I also didn’t want to attempt to try to be a superhero and do everything I could myself, because I knew it wouldn’t work. My husband and I had a routine where when I was asleep, he’d feed the baby, and when he was asleep, I’d feed the baby.

You can do this, and it will get easier! Enjoy this very precious time because it goes by quickly. 🙂

The Honest Company

Reference

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression