Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression - What's the Difference?
Bringing home your little bundle of joy is one of the most momentous occasions in any parent’s life. But sometimes, expectations don’t always align with reality. The “baby blues,” also called the postpartum blues, are very common for new moms. The baby blues have a lot in common with postpartum depression, and unfortunately, many moms in our community don’t get help because of stigmas around mental health or not knowing what to look for. Here’s the 411 on your moods after bringing home baby.
Many parents have an idealized expectation of what life with a newborn will look like. They imagine sleepy-eyed baby yawns, the “new baby” smell on the tops of their heads, and dressing them in adorable onesies. While all of the above might happen, there are other things baby brings with it that we don’t talk about enough or adequately prepare new parents for. Like how to soothe a colicky infant at 3 am on four hours of sleep and a house that looks like a cyclone hit it while wearing the same clothes from two days ago. Parenthood is a blessing and a trust from Allah…but it’s also hard. Probably why there are so many hadiths where the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, emphasized the importance of mothers in Islam. And yes, shout out to the dads too, but it’s undeniable that a woman goes through far more than men when it comes to birthing.
Bringing home baby is a big change and it’s both normal and healthy for such a big change to spur a lot of big feelings. New babies don’t come with an instruction manual, but they do come equipped with cuteness, and of course, stress. In fact, statistics show that up to 80% of moms will get the “baby blues.”
The Baby Blues Versus Postpartum Depression
The baby blues typically develop within a few days of giving birth and last for a few weeks. Postpartum hormone changes are a big factor, as is the physical exhaustion that comes with caring for a newborn so soon after the physical exertion of labor. You may have symptoms such as problems sleeping, mood swings, anxiety, being overwhelmed, or feeling that you’re a terrible or inadequate parent. This low mood soon after giving birth can be normal and if it’s the baby blues, it will subside in a few weeks.
But if you’re continuing to struggle and your symptoms are persistent, you should reach out for help, as postpartum depression can be confused with the baby blues. Postpartum depression is more severe and longer lasting. Postpartum anxiety can also occur. With postpartum depression, your baseline mood is low, you may struggle to bond with your baby, feel inadequate as a mom, or have difficulty caring for your baby because of your mental health. You may feel tearful and hopeless often. You may even have thoughts of harming yourself or the baby. It’s important to talk to someone – preferably your doctor – about how you’re feeling. They can assess whether what you’re experiencing is a transient case of the baby blues or if it’s a case of postpartum depression, which may require treatment like therapy, extra support, or even medication. There is no shame in getting help if you need it. Managing your mental health makes you a good mom.
Welcoming a new addition to the family should be one of the most joyous occasions in life for new parents. It’s okay if the transition doesn’t go as smoothly as you imagined, and it’s okay if you need support or need to get professional help. Have you experienced baby blues or postpartum depression? What advice do you have for new parents? Drop a comment and let us know. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @tuesdayinlove.