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.
- Mood Swings
- Crying Spells
- Low self Esteem
- 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.