8 Tips to Help You Through Baby Blues
I knew having a baby wouldn’t be easy, but I felt prepared. I had done my research, talked to my friends with kids and made my pregnancy health care checklist. Then on July 4, 2017 my little firecracker, Lucy, entered the world and my plans went out the window.
Rest when you can
The old adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” is a great theory. However, it doesn’t always work in practice. Sometimes you are so tired and dazed it’s hard to flip a switch and sleep in the middle of the day. But even if you aren’t catching Z’s, it’s important to slow down and rest. So, when baby is napping or someone else is able to take care of him or her, lay back and relax. The chores can wait. You will need to conserve any ounce of energy you can in those early weeks.
Set boundaries for visitors
Family and friends are going to want to meet your new bundle of joy. But an influx of people in and out of your hospital room or home can be overwhelming, especially when you’re still in pain and trying to bond with your little one. Set clear expectations for when you’d like to accept visitors, and don’t feel the need to entertain anyone. People want to see you and the baby, not sit down to a four course dinner, so break out the paper plates and just enjoy the company.
When you do have visitors, they will often ask if there’s anything they can do. Take them up on this offer. Whether it’s bringing a meal, throwing in a load of laundry or taking over baby duty so you can sneak a shower or nap, you’ll appreciate the extra set of hands. And they’ll feel really good about helping, too.
A balanced diet is key to maintaining the energy you need to take care of yourself and your baby. Spread your meals throughout the day and include lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with plenty of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Eating well will eventually help you fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans, but don’t stress too much about losing the baby weight right away. It took you nine months to put it on after all. Cut yourself some slack and allow for the occasional cookie or slice of pizza.
Physical activity is just as good for your mental health as it is for your body. Even if you’re not up to going to the gym or a workout class, head out for a walk. During my maternity leave, I loved taking Lucy for a walk around the neighborhood in the stroller to clear my head and break up the day. Now that I’m back to work we try to go on family walks in the evening. It’s a great time for my husband and me to take a break from the whirlwind of new parenthood and reconnect as a couple.
Do something for yourself
Take some time that’s just for you and don’t feel guilty about it. Get a manicure or a haircut. Buy a new pair of shoes. Take a magazine to a coffee shop. These little outings can totally reset your outlook on life and make you feel like a human again.
Cry it out if you need to
It’s not always the babies who cry in those first days after the birth. Childbirth is a traumatic experience, and your hormones will be going wild for a while. Sometimes the demands of your new life will pile up and you will break down. And that’s ok. Just make sure your baby is in a safe place, then go ahead and let it out.
Know when to see a doctor
If your baby blues don’t go away after a few weeks, you lose pleasure in everyday activities, or you have trouble bonding with your baby, it may be time to seek baby blues help from a professional. These symptoms could be signs of postpartum depression. The CDC reports that about 1 in 9 women who give birth experience postpartum depression, but many do not get treatment1. Your doctor will ask you questions to screen for postpartum depression during your first postpartum visit, but you should reach out any time you feel like you cannot manage your feelings on your own. Being in tune with the signs of postpartum depression and getting the proper diagnosis and treatment plan can help you take better care of yourself and your baby .
If you need help managing your physical or emotional well-being after giving birth, contact HAP's Coordinated Behavioral Health Management Department at (800) 444-5755.
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Photo credit: Inner Circle Photography