The baby blues
Have you just become a mother and instead of being happier than ever before, you feel more like giving in to tears? Don’t worry, this is entirely normal. You’ve been affected by the baby blues.
What are “the baby blues”?
Baby blues are known to doctors as “post-partum blues”. This low mood starts three to six days after the birth in approximately 40-80% of mothers, who then suffer from mood swings, increased emotionality, sadness, crying, anxiety, exhaustion, low spirits, aggression, loss of appetite and insomnia. The main symptom is crying a lot. The baby blues are a natural part of the adaptation process from pregnant to mother, but usually this low mood lasts for only a few hours or days and then vanishes all by itself.
What are the causes?
The causes usually vary from one individual to the next, with a personal mix for every affected mother. The primary physical cause is the hormonal change that takes place when breast milk production starts. Fears, worries, the additional responsibility for the baby, lack of sleep and other challenges (e.g., arguments with their partners or breastfeeding problems) can be very stressful for young mothers and consequently result in temporary depression (the baby blues).
But what if the baby blues don’t go away?
If you have already been experiencing baby blues symptoms for a while, you should definitely seek medical help, because you may actually be suffering from post-natal depression. Make an appointment with your gynaecologist, midwife or maternity care service. How can I tell the difference between post-natal depression and baby blues? There is no difference in symptoms between post-natal depression and baby blues; rather, the duration of the symptoms is what is important. If you have been suffering from baby blues for more than two weeks, you could have post-natal depression. The prognosis for recovering from this depression is very good. The usual rule applies: the sooner you seek help and support, the faster you will recover from the crisis.
However, it is frequently forgotten that fathers may also suffer from low mood or become ill with post-natal depression. Approximately 10% of men are affected after the birth. They may not experience any hormonal changes, but their lives have still changed hugely, meaning they may still be overwhelmed by the new situation. Affected fathers usually remain unseen. You can find more information about post-natal depression on the Postpartale Depression Schweiz website.
What can I do to prevent the baby blues? – tips and advice
- Acknowledge your feelings and wave goodbye to the aspiration of being a radiant mother. Never forget that you are not alone and that this could happen to anyone.
- Talk to other mothers and fathers.
- Support and understanding from those closest to you (family, partner, friends) are important. Talk about your feelings, don’t conceal them.
- Try to do something for yourself, despite everything. Allow yourself some time to rest so you can relax and calm down (e.g., read a book, take a bath).
- A healthy diet and mild exercise (e.g., a walk) may also help to reduce stress.
- And what is particularly important: give yourself time to get used to your new life!
Of course you can prepare yourself before the birth for the time after it:
- Think about how the baby will change your life. Discuss possible new situations with your partner or someone you trust.
- Plan additional support and organise it in good time.
- During pregnancy and in the first months after the birth, try to make as few life changes (e.g., new job, moving house) as possible.
Braunmiller, H. (o.D.). Babyblues statt Babyglück. Unser Baby. https://www.sanitas.com/de/magazin/momente-teilen/schwangerschaft/babyblues.html
Ging, A. (2016). Postpartale Depression. Symptomatik, Prävention, Therapie. Gynäkologie, 14-18.
Verein Postpartale Depression Schweiz. (o.D.). Willkommen beim Verein Postpartale Depression Schweiz. https://postpartale-depression.ch/de/
Weleda. (2021). Wochenbettdepression – Was tun? https://www.weleda.ch/magazin/baby/wochenbettdepression