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The baby blues

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on July 9, 2008

You wanted your baby so much and bloomed throughout your pregnancy, but as soon as you leave the maternity ward you get depressed, you start feeling guilty about not jumping for joy over your baby, you get over-sensitive to remarks and comments, even the most innocent ones that your loved ones say. There's no need to panic about experiencing the baby blues. Here's our guide to them...

If you're experiencing a bout of the baby blues, there's no need to panic: 50 to 80% of women who’ve just had a baby experience them in some form.

What’s wrong with me?

After pregnancy, the sharp fall in hormones (involved in the expulsion of the placenta) can cause problems with your internal biological clock and emotions just after birth. You could also be suffering from the effects of all the apprehension you harboured during pregnancy. A feeling of regret can occur if the birth wasn't everything you thought it would be, or you can feel nostalgic about your pregnancy, when you were full of hopes and dreams, before reality hits and you have a baby to take care of. Becoming a mum is a big milestone, especially if it’s your first time. You're a mum, your partner is a dad, your parents are now grandparents and the whole family dynamic has changed, and it can still take you by surprise. The mere responsibility of having to care for a baby can alarm you or even make you feel unworthy of the challenge.

What should I do?

A little while before the birth, prepare properly for the arrival of your baby so you're not left feeling overwhelmed when he/she finally arrives. When baby gets here, don’t keep any worries to yourself. This is a time for support from your partner, family, friends and maternity staff. Explain how you're feeling: they’ll understand and be ready to help. Delegate so you don't have to do everything, and don't stress if the cleaning and ironing aren't done exactly as you like for a short while. Get your friends involved, call your sister or your mum. Talking about how you feel will make you see that you’re not the only one to experience the baby blues and that a lot of people have been through the same difficult period.

What if the baby blues continue?

If, after 2 weeks, things don’t improve, go and see your doctor. He’ll tell you if you’re suffering from post-natal depression, which requires further support. Post-natal depression affects around 10% of new mothers. The symptoms are feelings of intense guilt or feelings that you're incapable of taking care of the baby. It is often linked to severe tiredness, thoughts of death and even hallucinations, and it requires medical attention from a doctor; otherwise there could be consequences for the mother-baby bond, or it could be a totally different problem than the baby blues. You can speak to your midwife, health visitor or doctor. They may refer you to another professional for therapy. Your problems with new motherhood may be due to repressed difficulties with your own parents, in particular with your mother, so a few support sessions may be vital in solving your difficulties.

by Sarah Horrocks

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