Becoming a new mom –whether for the first time or a becoming new mom once again, comes with lots of emotions. Lots of mixed emotions. The adjusting to life with a newborn, the physical pain and discomfort of recovering from the birth, hormonal changes, lack of sleep, breastfeeding woes, receiving and hosting so many visitors…all of this can at times be overwhelming for a new mom.
I know of some moms whose emotions were so overwhelming that they were left with no room to feel any joy or excitement about the new baby, to the extent that they wanted some ‘space’ from the baby. Others didn’t want to see the baby at all. Filled with feelings of sadness and failure, they see the images they had of a joyful and fulfilling motherhood vanish into thin air as they struggle within themselves, wondering what happened to their good old cheerful self.
“When I got my baby, the first 4-5 months were terrible. I used to cry half the night and felt like there was a cloud over my head spelling doom for the longest time. I knew I loved my baby and didn’t have any thoughts to harm her but yet I felt helpless, worthless and so alone. Thank God my mom was there to help me through it. I did not see a counselor or take any medicine but family was very supportive. My aunties and cousins rallied around me and made sure I had time off and got out of the house. Things are better now and I’m back to my old happy self but I must say that those months were pure mental torture. I would cry alot and it did not help that my baby refused to breastfeed, which made me feel like a failure. Things do get better once the hormones get back to balance. One way my aunt helped me was by helping me do daily exercises. We walked together in the early weeks and later did video exercises as well as the gym which seemed to alleviate the mood swings. My female relatives also talked me through it since they had similar experiences and encouraged me to try and stay positive. I thank God for them daily because am not sure what I would have done without them.”
“My baby blues were bad because I didn’t have milk for one week after delivery. To make matters worse, my nipples were inverted, which was a double tragedy. My baby would cry endlessly because she was hungry and there I was, helpless, with no nipple for her to suckle from. I thank God for the person who invented breast pumps because my nipples formed after several sessions of pumping. What also helped a lot was having a supportive hubby who helped me through these difficult times.”
“My depression went on for a very long time because I didn’t deal with it at the time that I should have. When I was pregnant, I was stressed out at work and at some point I even had to see a shrink about it. After I gave birth, I didn’t see the shrink, though I knew that I was depressed, and probably could be having postpartum depression. At that time, I was ashamed of what I was feeling, and I tried very hard to conceal it and pretend that everything was okay. But I now realize that was the worst thing ever. It was really difficult to share what I was going through with my friends because all of them were so happy and cooing about my baby and how happy I must have been feeling. If only they knew.
What I can say is that the fatigue and sleeplessness of having a newborn increases the bad feelings of depression, so I would advice a new mom t o make sure there is a point during the day when someone else takes care of the baby so that she can have a proper nap away from the baby- she should even get earplugs if possible. She should get someone reliable to watch over baby and feed him/her so that she can get at least 2 hours or uninterrupted rest. This will make a great difference.“
Following these conversations, women who’s experiences are representative of so many other new moms, I talked to a Counseling Psychologist who shed more light on baby blues and postpartum depression – if they mean the same thing or whether they are different. She also shared the symptoms of both, how a new mom can cope and when a new mom should seek professional help. I will share my interview with her here tomorrow, so be sure to check that.
Images courtesy: Dreamstime.com