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Postpartum Gets Emotional


You're happy, you're sad. You feel elated. You feel down. Becoming a mom should be a wonderful time of life. Why, then, are your emotions bouncing all around?

While the birth of a baby is a joyful event, the sudden and unexpected realities of life with a newborn may leave a new mother with a variety of feelings, lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

Symptoms Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Crying Spells
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Low self Esteem
  • Loneliness
  • Worry about baby

Hormonal changes are partially responsible for the social and psychological adjustments the new mother must make.

When she has had a baby, a woman's body goes through overwhelming physical changes. Her sleep pattern is altered, she is trying to create a relationship with this new baby as well as a new role for herself. It is a vulnerable period in a new mother's life. 

Guidelines to Ease into Motherhood

  • Ask a friend or relative to help in the home. You need mothering too.
  • Eat well. Include plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and protein rich foods. Limit caffeine and alcohol.
  • Exercise. Get moving to increase energy, experience less stress and feel better about your body.
  • Rest. Don't forget downtime. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Try a warm bath for relaxation.
  • Play. Remember activities you took part in before baby's arrival. Plan outings with the baby or on your own. Take a walk, go shopping, plan a date with your partner.
  • Avoid isolation. Keep in touch with friends. Join Mom and Me groups for play or just good conversation.
  • Be kind to yourself.

Is it Something More?

Occasionally, the emotions a new mother experiences develop into a more serious condition known as Postpartum Depression. Symptoms of Postpartum Depression can include:

  • Increased crying or irritability
  • Hopelessness and sadness
  • Uncontrollable mood swings
  • Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
  • Fear or harming the baby, her partner or herself
  • Fear of being alone
  • Lack of interest in the baby or being overly concerned
  • Poor self-care
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Decrease energy or motivation
  • Withdrawal or isolation from family and friends
  • Inability to think clearly or make decisions
  • Exhaustion, sluggishness or fatigue
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances not related to the care of the baby
  • Headaches, chest pains, hyperventilation, heart palpitations
  • If you are experiencing multiple symptoms or are at all concerned about the feelings you are experiencing, contact your physician immediately.

Tips for the New Father

  • Be patient. Be flexible. Listen closely to your partner.
  • Provide much-needed breaks so she can have time to herself.
  • Remind her you are there for her.
  • Don't take her mood swings personally.
  • Remember her ups and downs will pass. Parenthood will not be like this forever.
  • Get support for yourself. Talk to friends, relatives, and people you trust.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep.
  • Tell her you love her and you are there for her.