A woman’s body can do some truly miraculous things. Giving birth could be one of the most remarkable experiences of your life, yet your body continues working hard long after that. A woman’s hormones return to pre-pregnancy levels in the space of only a day or so after birth, often leaving the new mother feeling a little emotional. It’s believed that this hormonal shift can also affect brain chemicals and, in as many as 13% of women, lead to depression. [1]

 

Bringing a new life into the world is no mean feat, and of course exhaustion, mixed emotions and stress are all part of life for a brand new mother. Luckily, the “baby blues” usually lasts only two weeks or so before the mother is able to embrace her new role.

 

Weathering the Baby Blues

 

Even for the most laid-back among us, pregnancy and birth can be a challenging time. Prevention and a healthy does of self-care will get you through this period, so that you can start enjoying those precious moments getting to know your baby.

 

·       Consider a confinement nanny to take care of the details and let you focus on what’s important

·       Before birth, arrange for groceries to be delivered directly to your house

·       Join a few online forums for new mothers and connect with those with similar experiences

·       Likewise, a real life support group can really help you through those darker days

·       If possible, arrange for outside help with domestic chores

·       Treat yourself to an aromatherapy massage or beauty treatment to thank your body for everything it’s accomplished

·       If you feel like you would benefit, book a session or two with a counselor to air your thoughts and concerns

·       Similarly, a romantic dinner with your partner and a heart-to-heart about the exciting new change can be very grounding – and good for your relationship

·       Make sure your diet is working for you and that you’re getting plenty of nourishment from fresh, wholesome foods

·       Try meditate or keep a journal. The first few weeks of motherhood can be a time of deep reflection – take a moment to slow down and really relish the moment

 

If you’ve had difficulties with your mood in the past or have a history with pre-menstrual stress, you may need to be a little more alert around the time after birth to ensure you are getting all the support you need. Fortunately, a little forward thinking will ensure that your transition to motherhood is gentle and the weeks following birth are a time of learning all about the little person who’s just joined your family.

 

When it’s More Than Just Baby Blues

 

For some women, the hormonal chaos around the time of birth can set off a more serious problem with depression.[2] If you are feeling depressed for longer than two weeks after the birth, chat to your doctor. Post Partum Depression can even begin months or years after the birth of your baby, or appear for the first time with second or third pregnancies.

 

As mothers, we can often get so carried away with nurturing our children that we forget about nurturing ourselves. But the happier and healthier you are, the more fully you can be there by your child’s side, sharing those magical first few weeks.

 

[1] Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression-pregnancy.html

[2] The Boston Women's Health Book Collective: Our Bodies Ourselves, pages 489–491, New York: Touchstone Book, 2005