Feeling a jumble of emotions is common for new mamas, especially when there is a new addition to the family, and having to care for a new life. From postpartum anxiety to experiencing excitement and joy, postpartum emotions could be a rollercoaster ride for new mamas, if there is no substantial support available. Although there is a difference between postpartum blues and postpartum depression, mamas are encouraged to talk about their emotions postpartum as a part of recovery.
What is postpartum blues?
Postpartum blues are a pool of negative emotions that are typically non-longlasting, with signs of irritability, moody and anxiety of not being able to cope with the baby’s needs, feeling frustrated with the cries of your baby. Postnatal blues are partly due to the drastic hormonal changes that a mama experiences, physical exhaustion from childbirth and many other factors like fatigue, lack of sleep and family support.
Symptoms of postpartum blues include:
- Mood swings
- Being frustrated at your baby
- Feeling confused at your emotions
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression in short, is experiencing the same baby blues but stronger, lasts for a longer period of time and the symptoms could be beyond psychological, such as experiencing quicker heartbeats, body aches and even anxiety.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression includes:
- Severe mood swings
- Unable to find joy in anything
- Withdrawing from your baby
- Experiencing anxiety that is out of control, preventing you from sleeping or eating
- Experiencing negative emotions for months, or even years
How to handle postpartum emotions?
Postpartum blues tend to hit you on your 3rd or 4th day post-delivery of your baby, and having support from family members is of utmost importance. Without support and encouragement, postpartum blues could be dangerous, developing into postpartum depression.
For mamas, recovery for postpartum blues could take some time, requiring physical and mental support from family members. Before you start feeling guilty about not supplying enough for your baby, you may want to try these methods to better manage your emotions
1. Be less harsh on yourself
Hey mama, you are new to handling a baby, have some self-compassion and do not be harsh on yourself! For a start, be true to your feelings and don’t be afraid to voice out your feelings, ask for help and remember, you are not alone in this with many other mothers in the same plight as you. Although it is easier said than done, encourage yourself like how you would encourage your friends when they are going through difficult times.
2. Take deep breaths
Although anxiety attacks could kick in at unpredictable times, taking deep breaths will help one to calm down. Diaphragmatic breathing can help release stress, heal emotionally and ease away the tensions. In postpartum recovery, practicing diagrammatic breathings will help mamas to relax and it helps to lower the harmful effects of stress hormones.
3. Try building positive energy
Building positive energy at home would require your family’s support, in addition to your own. Looking at your motherhood journey, there are moments that are worth celebrating like hearing your child’s heartbeat through the ultrasound, and holding your baby in your arms upon delivery.
In your postpartum recovery, celebrate small wins like your child’s chuckle, or even napping while your baby is napping too. Celebrating small victories will help you achieve your self-care goals, improving your overall well-being as you put your mental health first, as your priority.
4. Lean on others for support
Human social contacts are a part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and positive social interactions are known to be helpful in relieving stress. Postpartum recovery is an exhaustive period, with fatigue creeping in every other day. Physically, asking for help supplements recovery, and emotionally, mamas should be voicing out their thoughts and feelings to their inner circle, to those who would not judge and provide emotional support. In a mama’s opinion, a word or encouragement goes a long way.
5. Get some fresh air
We understand that not everyone likes to be cooped up at home, surrounded by four walls and a baby. If needed, get out of the house for fresh air in the park and you will be greeted by nature. Taking evening walks with your baby will not only expose your bubba to new things, it will bring you peace and comfort even if it is just a short 15 minutes walk. Alternatively, have some alone time by yourself for a short walk around the neighbourhood to clear your mind, whilst having someone at home to look after your baby for you.
When to seek professional help?
Typically, if your baby blues does not go away after two weeks, seek help from a professional for advice before it develops into something worse. For postpartum depression, seek professional treatment if self-help does not work, and typically, a therapist will be able to advise on how you can better manage your emotions and your transition to motherhood, alongside providing medical option treatment such as prescribing antidepressants and relaxants for therapy.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help
Mental wellness is of utmost importance in postpartum recovery, and most of the time, your family members are willing to help out in taking care of the baby, alongside providing support in your motherhood journey. You can do it mama!
If you are feeling overwhelmed and suicidal, here are some hotlines available 24 hours for emotional support:
SOS (Samaritans of Singapore): 1800 221 4444
Available daily, 24 hours
SOS Care Text on Facebook Messenger: http://m.me/SamaritansOfSingapore