Many women face a period of the postpartum blues shortly after delivering a baby. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, these tips will make that period even easier to handle!
I’m almost 36 weeks pregnant with my third baby and I’ve been thinking a lot about his nursery, his clothes, what he’ll look like, breastfeeding, even how my older kids will react to the birth. And as my due date quickly approaches I’m starting to think long and hard about my postpartum recovery period. Every postpartum experience is so different, but one thing many women face- and hardly ever talk about- is the postpartum blues.
Now I’m not talking about postpartum depression, that’s something completely different. Postpartum depression is very real and should be openly discussed with your doctor. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is the postpartum blues. A time when you feel a little down, a little low on energy, possibly kind of weepy, not quite yourself, and you just can’t figure out why.
Remember that episode of Friends right after Monica and Chandler’s wedding when Monica is super bummed? And nobody can figure out why because she just got married! And she finally says “I’m not a bride anymore, I’m just somebody’s wife!”
We laugh at things like that because it’s funny. How can you be sad when you just had this incredible, joyous life event?! And yet there is a certain sadness to it. And you can’t quite put your finger on it.
With a baby, just like a wedding, there’s a build-up of anticipation. You’ve been pregnant for 9 months, maybe you tried to get pregnant for a long time, maybe you’ve dreamed of holding this sweet baby in your arms for years! You spend months dreaming of long, calm nights rocking baby to sleep. You take painstaking measures to design the perfect nursery and the perfect nursery. Hours are spent debating names and dreaming of life as new parents.
And now that baby is finally here……..and it’s not exactly what you thought. There’s a lot of, well, bodily fluids. Coming out of both of you.
The baby cries a lot more than the books mentioned.
Breastfeeding is quite the experience. To say the least.
You’re tired. Like zombie level tired.
And even though you’re happy and in love and all that, you kind of feel like you were in a major car accident and then someone sent you home with a baby!
Your life has just been turned upside down by a tiny, 7-pound dictator who is not afraid to let you know when you are making a mistake.
It’s completely normal to feel a little unsettled. Maybe even a tiny bit sad. Jealous of your friend who just posted a picture of her delicious, child-free, brunch on Instagram. Or to resent that sweet tiny human just a little bit because you know your favorite pair of skinny jeans will never fit the same. Neither will your bra, but that’s a different story.
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We’ve all been there and I’m here to tell you it does get better! And there are some thing you can do to help!
Know that You are NOT Alone
I would venture to guess that 99.9% of moms have experienced this to some degree. And that 0.1% who say they haven’t? They’re lying liars who lie!
You are NOT the only mom to experience these feelings. It’s just that nobody talks about it. Unfortunately, experiencing postpartum blues is a little bit taboo. Mostly because everyone just wants to hear about how in love with the baby you are- nobody wants to hear that you’re pretty sure the baby is secretly out to ruin every shower you attempt for the next 18 years. But we all feel like that sometimes.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms, friends, family, or your partner. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m not feeling like myself, I need help.” And let people help you! Sometimes a friend who can bring over coffee and hold the baby while you vent about how much laundry this little nugget produces can be therapeutic.
*Note: if you are experiencing thoughts of hurting yourself or your child, please reach out to your doctor immediately.*
And splurge on the good stuff. I’m not talking about a bag of M&M’s or a few peanut butter cups, I’m talking those gourmet chocolate bars that you’ve always wanted to try but they cost $3 an ounce. Get those. You deserve it!
When I was pregnant with my second I read about how dark chocolate has some quality to it that can help elevate your mood during those first few days and weeks postpartum. (Truthfully, if my life depended on it I couldn’t tell you what that magical quality is. I’m pretty sure I stopped reading after “chocolate keeps you happy”. But I remember it’s a thing! If you don’t believe me, Google it!)
So I splurged on a couple of ridiculously expensive chocolate bars and stashed them in the house. I’m talking the kind of chocolate bars that made my heart hurt when I paid for them because I probably could have bought an entire meal for that price. The kind of chocolate that is so good you only eat one square and it takes you at least 30 minutes to savor it. These were my absolute favorite bars, and worth every darn penny!! (pro tip: the almonds are great for breastfeeding mamas, and the sea salt will help support those tired adrenal glands after a long night of feeding)
Watch ALL the Sappy TV
Nicholas Sparks movies anyone?! Hallmark specials? That insanely cheesy chick flick on Netflix you’ve been dying to watch but you’re afraid your husband will not-so-secretly judge you? Watch them all!! You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on the couch bonding with baby, feeding baby, and dozing off/trying to act like you don’t need a third nap today. So I suggest you make the most of it and find some feel-good shows and movies that will give the warm and fuzzies.
After my second little guy was born, I binge-watched soooooo many Hallmark TV shows and movies, all of them more predictably cheesy than the last but you know what? They kind of put me in a happy, lovey-dovey space and I felt great! I didn’t do this with my first and I can tell you there was a noticeable difference.
If you can’t stomach the cheese than a good comedy would do the trick. But if you’ve had a c-section watch out: laughing in those first couple of weeks might not feel great.
Let Yourself Cry
Ok, I know I just told you to watch happy TV, but now I’m going to tell you to watch something that will make you cry. But not cry in a “what is this world coming to?” kind of way. More like in a “that was sad but had a happy ending” kind of way.
Again, can I introduce you to the master himself Nicholas Sparks?
You’re going to be on your own little roller coaster of emotions during the first few days and weeks postpartum. A lot of it will be from sleep deprivation, but some of it will be from the intense hormonal changes. And I found that giving myself “a reason” to cry (like watching a sappy movie) was always a better outlet than waiting for all of my emotion to build up and crying because my husband drank the last of the milk.
Don’t get me wrong, I still cried about the most ridiculous things, but I think it helped to have an outlet via a sad movie or book.
Hold the Baby
Really skin-to-skin is ideal, so any time you can be topless or close to it I say go for it! But if you have other kids or that makes you uncomfortable than a low cut or loose-fitting shirt will do the trick too. (pro tip: After my second I figured out that a tube top is ideal for skin-to-skin!! It sounds ridiculous, but if you buy one thats one or two sizes too big you can stretch it out and place baby on your chest, then pull the tube top up over you and baby instead of messing with a blanket. Genius! Now remember, it’s not a wrap or a baby carrier so you can’t put the baby in this and then be hands free, but I used it to snuggle up with baby in my favorite recliner. He loved being skin-to-skin and I didn’t have to mess with blankets to keep him warm. Plus, when I wasn’t holding him the tube top covered my chest without being too restrictive on my already sensitive breasts.)
The point is to the hold the baby, smell the baby, snuggle the baby! Enjoy these few precious weeks in your blissful newborn bubble. Because while these days are hard they will fly by and you will miss them. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, mama, so don’t waste time washing dishes (or your hair for that matter!), folding laundry, or letting visitors steal all the snuggles. Sit down and hold that baby!!
Let that oxytocin do it’s thing and help you fight off the postpartum blues! When it comes to holding a baby, there’s no such thing as spoiling a newborn so hold him close, snuggle him, smell the top of his head. Take 1,000,000 photos. Soak it all in!
If you are experiencing the postpartum blues…..
……don’t be ashamed and don’t hide it. Talk about it, ask other moms around you what they did to help, talk to your partner, call your doctor. Reach out. We’ve all been there before, and it’s going to be ok!
Do you have any tried and true postpartum tips? Leave them below!