Almost everyone has heard of postpartum depression (PPD). All of the pregnancy and childbirth books or classes advise you of the signs to look for so you can get help and get treated if you think you are experiencing symptoms of PPD. There is usually also a brief mention of the “baby blues” stage which is more common for postpartum women to experience. While a small percentage of women will suffer from PPD, nearly all women who recently delivered will have a spell with the baby blues, usually lasting anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. As I was preparing for my own childbirth, I couldn’t quite imagine what going through the baby blues would feel like, and I didn’t know what to expect. Now that I’m a childbirth veteran, here’s what my own battle with the baby blues was like…
Personally, I didn’t have too many noticeable times where I felt emotionally distraught. I usually only felt depressed when I was away from my baby.
The day we brought my daughter home from the hospital, I went to lie down and take a nap while my husband and mother-in-law looked after her. As soon as I got into bed, though, I immediately started sobbing as I placed my hand over my now flat (yet kind of flabby) belly my baby had previously occupied for 40 weeks. I couldn’t help but feel like part of me was missing, even though that part of me was just in the next room, swaddled in a pink blanket.
That feeling of having a part of me missing is what had me most depressed multiple times over the next few days as it kept occurring to me that I would no longer feel little kicks and jabs on the inside from my growing baby.
The first day I left the house and the baby stayed behind, I felt lonely. I was so used to having her company (even though it was from within) everywhere I went. I used to imagine her listening to me singing along with the radio in the car, getting to know my voice and developing a love for music. But once she was born, I would find myself singing along, only to stop and grow sad when I realized she was no longer there to be my audience.
I worried that I couldn’t keep her as safe and happy as I could when she was living in the womb. I didn’t want her to ever be cold or hungry or scared. I was afraid I couldn’t protect her as well as I could before she entered this crazy world.
These are things I still worry about at times, but it only took a few days for me to get out of the baby blues funk. My baby girl is still my little companion as we run errands to the grocery store or post office (even if she’s not quite as easily portable as she was in the womb), and she still has to put up with me singing along in the car. Also, I now look forward to the (very rare) moments I have just to myself.
For other women, the baby blues stage may last a little longer. Our hormones are so out of whack after delivering a baby, and on top of that, most of us suffer from extreme exhaustion and lack of sleep which can add to the distress. If you are suffering from severe depression, though, or it doesn’t seem to be going away, do not hesitate to contact your doctor for help. While the baby blues tend to take a hike before too long, postpartum depression is not something you should try to handle on your own–especially when you’ve got a newborn baby to care for as well!
So, for you women reading this, what did the baby blues feel like for you? Did any of you suffer from postpartum depression?