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Is it ‘just’ baby blues?


She’d thought she would never have children. She wasn’t sure she wanted children. But here she was holding a newborn in her arms, counting fingers and toes, cuddling the tiny person with sweet smells, feeding and diapering as needed. She was grateful when her mother or other family members or friends took the fussy baby so she could rest, but now everyone was going back to their regular routine. Her parents went back home. Her husband was going back to work. And she was solely responsible for filling the needs of this tiny person. She was tired, still healing from the emergency c-section, and struggling to make it through each day until someone else could be there to take over the infant’s care so she could breathe for a little while.

She hadn’t realized how demanding it was to take care of a baby. She hadn’t known about the other side of cute, cuddly and sweet-scented … the fussy, cholicky baby with messy diapers and spit-up at the most unexpected moments. She hadn’t thought about the work involved, the lack of free time she used to take for granted. She hadn’t realized that she would spend so many hours alone with the child. She felt so … overwhelmed. And tied down. And lonely. She didn’t realize she was stumbling into the black pit of depression.

Depression during and after pregnancy is not uncommon. If the symptoms last for longer than two weeks, though, it’s important to talk to your health care provider. Symptoms include:

  • Feel restless or moody.
  • Feel sad, hopeless, overwhelmed.
  • Cry a lot.
  • Have no energy or motivation.
  • Eat too little or too much.
  • Sleep too little or twoo much.
  • Have trouble focusing or making decisions.
  • Have memory problems.
  • Feel worthless, guilty.
  • Lose interest in things that you used to enjoy.
  • Withdraw from family and friends.
  • Have headaches, aches and pains or stomach problems that don’t go away.

It is thought that depression is hereditary. Changes in brain chemistry may cause postpartum depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. Stressful life events can initiate it: a death of someone close, an elderly loved one relying on you, abuse, poverty … a new baby.

“Baby blues” can last a few minutes or a few hours a day but goes away within a couple of weeks. If you are going through this, know that you are not alone. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of all new mothers experience this. To be able to take care of your child you need to also take care of yourself:

  • Don’t “bear your burdens in silence.” Talk to someone you trust.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet so your body and mind can work at peak performance.
  • Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings.
  • Get outside for fresh air and fresh scenery. A stroller can be one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have.
  • When you need help, ask for it. Don’t take no for an answer.

It takes time to heal after pregnancy and delivery. It takes time to adjust to this new way of life because, truly, when your baby is born your life will never, ever, be the same again.

If you are depressed, there is help available. You can achieve the new and improved you with a little help and a lot of determination.

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