Postpartum Depression and Baby Blues: Know the difference
9 minute read, Written By: Momly
What do you mean by baby blues?
Childbirth is a big event in women’s life. Women who are dreaming to become mothers get a chance to see the dream manifested on their laps. A chubby baby with curious eyes and a cherubic smile is out there for you to hold close to your heart forever. But pregnancy is also layered with bodily changes in women. A famous phrase ‘hormonal rollercoaster’ gnaws at women not only in their pregnancy but also in their postpartum journey. A sudden drop in pregnancy hormones after a baby impacts their emotional equilibrium. This causes mood swings that develop into irritable mood and anxiety. You feel exhausted and drained of energy. You feel that your emotions are all over the place. These behavioral and mental changes are termed in medical terms as Baby Blues.
How is PPD (Postpartum Depression) different from baby blues?
PPD is much more than baby blues. Prolonged feelings of listlessness or baby blues symptoms can result in PPD. That said, PPD has its symptoms that snatches the mom from having a connection with her baby. PPD happens after immediately after childbirth when hormones are running amok in a woman’s post-pregnancy body. The BIG feelings or emotional unrest is more severe than what is experienced in baby blues. If PPD is running in the family, you are more predisposed to have bouts of postpartum anxiety and depression. PPD needs therapist intervention if it disrupts your routine and distances you from your baby and other family members.
Early signs of PPD
Some of the common symptoms and early signs of PPD:
- Sadness and Listlessness
- Emotional outbursts
- Feeling of despair
- Emotional disconnect or numbness toward with baby
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Loss of appetite
Momly Expert views: BIG feelings moms face, Time to see a therapist, and PPD beating tips
Postpartum depression is very common. You don’t have to feel bad about suffering from PPD and hide it from others. If Postpartum blues symptoms extend beyond the first 2 weeks then it leads to postpartum depression. PPD is laid with a dip in mood levels in new moms. Hormones like dopamine and serotonin play an important role in regulating mood levels. In PPD, women swing from overwhelming joy to overwhelming anger.
Things that provoke anger in new moms:
- Not able to handle a baby on my own
- Not able to go out and feel stuck at home
- Facing difficulty in breastfeeding
- Not enough support system or support from family
When should you see a therapist?
When you feel like you cannot deal with yourself, you should seek the help of a professional. Even if you are talking to family members, you feel like you are not able to regulate your emotions. Your routine gets disrupted because of your mood swings. When you feel like getting up and going about the day becomes difficult, that might be a good time to see a therapist. Communication is going to be difficult in these overwhelming times so talking to a therapist is not going to come naturally. But talking and expressing it to an unbiased person can do a lot of good to your emotions and help you heal better.
Care Tips for PPD:
Talk to your partner:
Start with “I Feel” rather than landing the conversation with a blame game. Tell him “I feel overwhelmed. I feel sad or frustrated now”. This would make him understand first about your feelings and then open an outlet to listen and help you navigate your emotions. Talking therapy is highly regarded in mental health issues so don’t bottle up your thoughts. Write your thoughts out and your expectations. Discuss or have a chat with your partner. By doing that half the battle is won as you both can figure out how to manage the tasks ahead.
Have a support system ready:
Delegate baby care tasks to family members if they are around. Do not just take everything upon yourself. It is okay to take help. Also, do not get worked up if some tasks are not done. When you are delegating, do not micromanage and be hell-bent on the way something needs to be done. Gatekeeping will increase your anxiety and stress. Leave it as it is in the hands of a trusted person. And move on with your work. The support system in the form of a spouse or other family members takes away your mental load.
Journal your thoughts:
Put a pen to your thoughts. When you are having racing thoughts, get a journal and start writing them. This habit of journaling is one of the coping mechanisms recommended by therapists to overcome PPD.
Figure out ‘Self-care’ Time
It is difficult to make time when you are a new mom. But plan a doable me-time activity where you can fit some 10 minutes to do something that you love. Listening to music, talking to a friend, or practicing mandala art will center your mind and connect to the present moment.
Speak to Mom Friends
Mom friends are best when it comes to empathizing with you. You can talk to them and get to know more coping techniques as some might have gone through with PPD in their pregnancy. Talking to a therapist helps but more than that talking to a person who has been in a similar situation puts an accelerator to speed up the PPD recovery journey. Join Momly to make mom friends in your city and call or hang up with them to alleviate PPD symptoms.
What can a family do?
The postpartum journey needs to be traveled together. It should not be just mom and baby alone. So, speak to mom, ask her how she is feeling, and know her mental health better. Help her with the tasks be it around the house or baby so that she doesn’t feel pressured and overwhelmed. Keep a tab on her feelings and her behavior. If you think something is amiss, talk to her like a friend, and don’t be judgmental. Avoid giving any advice or saying unsavory things like “You should be happy that you have a baby. You are so lucky to have a baby. You should concentrate more on the baby etc”. This will push her on a downward spiral and it will do her more harm. If she wishes to seek help from a therapist or a mental health expert, go with her and support her in this journey of healing. A supportive family will help her regain herself and promote her mental health and well-being.
Tips from Momly Moms:
“Get help for household chores. It is okay to ask for help. This is something we as moms need to learn and imbibe. Take care of yourself and get a break for at least 10 minutes every day. Take one day at a time” – Says Amrita Adnani
Sleep deprivation is an add-on factor for PPD. Family and friends are of great help. Do not doubt yourself. You are doing great and are being the best mom to your babies. – Says Apoorva
Chasmeet has a wonderful point to add. The great wisdom passed on to her from her mother – “You are not the only one facing this. All moms go through the same. It is natural but that doesn’t mean you need to be sad about it. Forget about the other stuff, daily tasks, or how things used to be. Focus on your recovery, rest your body, and enjoy the little things with your baby. And accept the messy house and change you”
“Do not shy away from seeking help from a professional” – Says Mansi. One of the important things that one should do if they feel that they are at the end of the tether.
A few things that helped Khushboo heal from PPD –
- Talking to her spouse
- Taking out half an hour to do something she loves – walk, read, music, sleep, eat, etc
- Step out a bit every few days to clear mind space
- Cry and let go of the emotions
- Stay away from negative-minded people
- Being kind and compassionate towards self
Summing up - “YOU ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB AS A MOTHER AND THE WAY YOU FEEL IS NOT YOUR FAULT. HAVE FAITH IN THE PROCESS OF HEALING AND SOON YOU WILL GET TO THE OTHER SIDE WHERE THERE IS HAPPINESS AND CONTENTMENT”
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