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 down time. 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.