The baby blues. Some mothers know this from personal experience, and feel conflicted, confused, and often very guilty. However, the term has become so commonly used, that you can be certain that you if you are feeling this way, you are not the only one. Motherhood is a major transition in life. Just like any major change in our lives, we can expect that there will be a time of adjustment. For some, this adjustment resolves with time, while for others, it may take support and help to come out the other end.
The “baby blues” is commonly understood as the period of time immediately after the birth of a child, where the mother feels teary, down-hearted, anxious and irritable. This is largely due to the hormonal changes, lifestyle adjustments and fatigue a new mother feels straight after the birth of a baby. It is estimated about 80% of mothers go through this phase, which occurs within a week or two of giving birth. However, in most cases, the “baby blues” tend to pass quickly with rest and support.In about 16% of cases, a mother may continue to feel depressed for a longer period of time, and experience other symptoms which resemble clinical depression. These symptoms include a profound and pervasive sadness that cannot be explained, disrupted appetite, sleep disturbances that are not a result of waking up for their baby, a despairing view of the future, deep-seated guilt and sense of worthlessness, and thoughts about harming themselves, or even ending their lives.When this happens, a mother may be experiencing Post Natal Depression. The distress experienced can overwhelm a mother’s ability to cope. It can make it very hard to feel positive about their baby. Guilt starts to set in, and the vicious cycle of depression continues.
Post Natal Depression will not last for ever. With help and support, a mother can overcome the burden of depression and enjoy their time with their child. If you think you are experiencing Post Natal Depression:* Talk to someone you trust. Carrying the burden yourself can be very hard. Sharing how you feel will help to alleviate some of the stress you feel, and perhaps help you to find the support you so desire.* Take time for yourself. Go for a walk, schedule some pampering time, pick up that hobby that you have been neglecting. You don’t have to devote large amounts of time. Pick short periods that you peper during your day. Or schedule a longer block once a week and have someone babysit for you.* Practice relaxation as part of a daily routine. Listen to soothing music, enjoy a wonderful stretch, or simply lie down. You deserve it!* Remind yourself that you are still the same person, eventhough you are going through a season of change. Jot down all the things you have done well before having a baby. Remember your successes, and deliberate on your personality strengths. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time, but it is a season.* Be kind to yourself. Motherhood does not come with a manual. You’re working it out, and you will get there.* If you are finding it hard to cope, talk to a professional, there are many ways a trained psychologist or counsellor can help you find your way.
Tehani Gunasekara (M Psych, B Adv Science, Hons Psych) is a Clinical Psychologist who is passionate about helping people live their best possible lives despite the challenges that inevitably come our way.
While warm and empathic Tehani is a straight talking and practical Psychologist who uses the principles of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Positive Psychology and Neuroscience to obtain outcomes for her clients. She will empathically support people to move forward with their lives and reach for a full and meaningful life regardless of their circumstances.