Having a baby is one of the most amazing and awesome events in a person’s life. Babies bring joy and laughter into the house. But the reality is, they also bring sleepless nights and inevitable and irreversible change.
Having a baby also brings changes to a woman’s body. During pregnancy and right after, a woman will experience shifts in her hormones. This may cause her to feel some depression and anxiety. This is a perfectly natural response to the event and is called having the “baby blues.”
But how do you tell if what you are experiencing is the “baby blues” or postpartum depression (PPD)?
As I mentioned, the baby blues is a very normal reaction. While the symptoms of anxiety and depression don’t feel good, they are mild and typically only last about two weeks.
Should symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, a new mother is considered to have PPD and encouraged to seek care and guidance from a mental health professional.
Can new fathers experience “baby blues?”
You may be surprised to learn that rates of depression among new fathers are very similar to those among new mothers. While male depression and anxiety are not a result of fluctuating hormones, their experience is very real.
How New Parents Can Get Relief from “Baby Blues”
One of the best ways new parents can cope with the initial baby blues is to find support from friends and family. This is particularly true when the couple has had their first child. This support will ensure both mom and dad can get some much-needed rest in those first few weeks. After this time, they will have gotten their “sea legs” and feel a bit more confident with their parenting instincts.
It’s also important that both parents try and eat right during this time. Try not to rely solely on fast food and other processed food items that may give you a quick burst of “fake” energy, only to have your energy and mood crash later. And it’s important to also take a bit of exercise. This will keep your body feeling good and help the release of natural “feel-good” endorphins.
And finally, it may help to speak with a therapist. He or she can help you navigate your strong emotions and offer strategies to cope with being new parents.