TLDR: Self care is not usually on top of a new mum’s list but if you’re wondering how to beat the baby blues, you might want to prioritise it
Written by Tanya, first-time Mum.
I burst into tears. It came out of nowhere but once the floodgates had opened there was no stopping them. To be honest, I was startled by them but relieved at the same time. I had felt this build-up of emotion over the last few days and the tears were my body’s way of decompressing.
Nobody had told me about post-partum blues and even if they had, I’m not sure I would have recognised them as everything felt like a blur after having my daughter.
Yet here I was experiencing what felt like an all-time low after having the most incredible high of bringing my daughter into the world safely and securely wrapped up with all the love and cuddles you could imagine.
Tears in the shower.
Tears in the hallway.
Tears when trying (and with no initial joy) to breastfeed my daughter.
They didn’t seem to stop and each time came on unexpectedly. It lasted for around two-three weeks.
So what is post-partum blues?
Post-partum blues or ‘baby blues’ as it’s often referred to impacts up to 80% of women. For some women, they will feel complete euphoria after having a baby while for others it’s a rapid mood swing from happy to sad. Post-partum blues can show up in several ways including:
- Lack of appetite or wanting to take care of yourself as you’re frankly too exhausted.
- Irritability, a sense of overwhelm and anxiety.
- Feeling like you’re doing a rubbish job or that you’re alone in it all.
How long do baby blues last?
Post-partum blues is a short-term dip and can last for up to three weeks. If you find that those emotions are still as raw after this period, it’s likely you are suffering from post-partum depression which is far more severe and can last a much longer duration. About 10% of women experience post-partum depression.
How to combat post-natal blues?
When I look back on that moment, I am amazed and proud of myself. I had an elective c-section due to my daughter being breech which was a positive birthing story. However, the recovery was TOUGH and admittedly added to the feeling of not being able to keep up with the needs of my daughter not to mention the added stress of breastfeeding not starting well.
What I envisaged the start of motherhood to be just didn’t marry up, and even with the most incredible support from my husband, those emotions of not being great at this were the tipping point.
There were a number of things that I did to help me through that period so if you feel the same when starting your family or are just generally in a bit of a slump, I hope these can help you too:
- Accept the help
I was used to doing things all by myself. However, a c-section does not allow you to do that. I needed to rely on other people. The moment I relaxed and allowed that to happen I felt much better.
- Prioritise sleep
Those first weeks were full of ups and downs. One of those downs was getting breastfeeding going but the moment I stopped pumping like a mad woman to get my milk supply up, a weight was lifted off my shoulder. I no longer had to decide between ‘Do I pump, eat or sleep?’ instead I slept as much as I could. I took breaks when my daughter napped or when people offered me help. Sleep was a brilliant remedy for feeling much better.
If you struggle to sleep well (for the short hours you get!) you could try adding magnesium to your bedtime routine.
- Eat regularly
I wasn’t the best at eating but I made it a priority even if it meant I did it with my daughter breastfeeding or I had smaller, healthier snacks. It’s easy to slip into a mode of eating whatever and whenever but fueling my body with healthy food especially when breastfeeding boosted my energy.
If you need a little extra support you might want to look at starting a supplements routine. If you are breastfeeding it is always best to check with your doctor first but there are lots of natural remedies that might help you.
- Getting outdoors
My anxiety meant that I didn’t want to get outdoors with my daughter because I found it challenging for her to latch when breastfeeding and the stress of being out and about deterred me. However, I signed up for a baby class to push myself towards a goal of getting out of the house and into a car (when I could finally drive again post-c-section) and it was the best thing I did. This formed part of that road to recovery by facing a number of fears, getting out for regular walks and meeting with other mums who were going through the same thing.
If you’re struggling with anxiety ashwagandha may be a great help to beat the baby blues.
- Seeking support
I did this in two ways. Firstly, I had an open conversation with my family about the extra support I needed. They always saw me as someone who had it all together so didn’t think I needed them as much as I did so communication is key.
Secondly, I found support to develop techniques to cope and that’s through my discovery of Mindful Mums part of the Mind charity. This is an award-winning, well-being group that helps pregnant women and parents look after their mental and emotional well-being during pregnancy and the first year of their baby’s life. There are similar groups offered by NCT too.
- Prioritise self-care
I had always been great at self-care before becoming a mum but those good habits such as exercising, reading, staying hydrated and doing the things that spark joy seemed to fall to the bottom of my to-do list. I realised to be the best mum I could be, I needed to make it a priority to find small moments of joy in my every day whether that’s savouring a cuppa or reading even two pages of that book. That’s when I started my blog feelgoodesprit.com to share my story of navigating self-care in motherhood and inspiring other busy, working mums to do the same.
- Go at your own pace
I moved so quickly pre-motherhood. Things were busy and this mum thing was a new kind of busy. The need to do it all was overwhelming but when I let go of keeping up with the washing and focused on what my body needed and what my daughter needed, I felt calmer and over time slotted into a happy groove.
Everyone will go through a moment like this as one constant in life is change. It’s about what we have in our toolbox to help that’s key, so what’s in yours?
About the author
Tanya Fihosy, Feel Good Esprit
I’m Tanya. I’m a first-time mum, marketer, blogger and aspiring writer! I am passionate about self-care in motherhood following my own challenges which inspired me to start www.feelgoodesprit.com, a platform to support other women in those early years of becoming a mum. I enjoy finding new spots to eat out, devouring books or terribly practising my downward dog on the mat.