Is This the Baby Blues?

    One moment, you're on top of the world, so thrilled to be a mom. Then, Boom! You're wondering what happened to your easygoing personality and how you will ever cope with the grown-up responsibilities of motherhood. Solution? Take a moment to "think hormonally"!

    Introducing… the Baby Blues

    Your roller coaster of emotions is caused primarily by normal swings in your hormones, and it has a name: the Baby Blues. Understanding the clues to the blues will make a big difference in how supported you feel during this important transition to motherhood.

    Some facts:

    • Approximately 80 percent of new moms go through hormonal Baby Blues, typically between the second and eleventh day after childbirth.

    • The Baby Blues generally last for anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days.

    • The most common symptoms of Baby Blues are tears, often for no apparent reason; mood swings; difficulty in concentrating; anxiety; and feelings of discouragement and vulnerability.

    Good news about the Blues

    Medical experts and new moms alike recommend the following treatments for Baby Blues: rest, support from family and friends and pampering. When everyone is excited about the baby, it's easy for them - and you - to forget that Mom's needs are just as important as they always have been.

    Think about it this way: Airline personnel tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before doing so for your child, because you won't be able to help your little one if you can't breathe. The same is true now - you can better help care for your baby when you care, and are well cared for, yourself.

    Also be kind to yourself if you experience some rarely discussed (but very common) depressive reactions for more than one week in the first few months after childbirth: a sense of frustration, isolation, guilt, irritability, forgetfulness, or exhaustion. The culprits? These experiences result from not getting enough sleep and regular, healthy meals, as well as from changing your normal exercise routine and losing your pre-mom social life.

    Baby Blues or postpartum depression?

    The Baby Blues, as well as the depressive reactions we described above, are not the same thing as postpartum depression. How do you know the difference? If this is simply the Blues, then when you get more sleep, eat healthier and start exercising again, you'll find yourself better able to cope with the ups and downs of life with your beautiful (and needy!) new family member.

    Postpartum depression, on the other hand, is a psychiatric illness affecting approximately one in ten new mothers. It must be treated with medication and therapy. In about 40 percent of cases, it starts after your six-week obstetric check up. When remedies such as more sleep and emotional support from friends and family don't cure your mood swings, and panic attacks or obsessive thoughts and fantasies about hurting yourself or your family plague you, consult your medical advisor immediately.

    This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.