Your new baby is just 3 days old and is sleeping in her bassinet. A tear trickles down your cheek and you ask yourself why you are crying? Are these the sad feelings your Midwife had talked about? One or two friends have popped in and admired the new baby and breastfeeding has gone better too so you feel you should be completely happy.
The new Grandma is vacuuming the house and proud new Dad has gone to the supermarket. Everything is running smoothly so why do you feel so sad? Then you remember more of what the Midwife has said.
Third day blues occur as a result of the body’s changing hormones. There has been the stress of the labour followed by the relief of delivering a healthy baby and the excitement of the arrival of flowers and cards. Sometimes all the emotions then crash together. It will pass she had said – in a few days. She advised accepting all help offered and getting rest when baby sleeps or someone else looks after her. Putting fresh clothes on after a shower and some makeup too can lift the mood.
Usually these bad feelings disappear after four days and you feel your old self again! Words from the antenatal class come back: “Try and eat three meals a day and fit in fruit and drinks of water too. Having a new baby in the house is a major change.” It was a relief to recall all this.
What is Postnatal Depression?
10 to 20% of mothers experience a temporary period of depression. Signs are anxiety, tearfulness, not sleeping well, little appetite, fatigue and not enjoying the baby. These symptoms can last for a number of weeks.
Sometimes the mother may not even be aware of how stressed she is and yet it is very noticeable to other members of the family who can see that things are not going as well as they should be.
Other signs of “PND” are:
- Lacking concentration.
- Not wanting to get out of bed in the mornings.
- Loss of interest in sexual activity.
- Looking at baby in a detached way and not having any feelings for the baby.
It is essential to talk about these feelings with a family member or health professional. A doctor may prescribe medication. Support is needed and in time positive feelings will return. This type of depression will go away.
Postnatal Psychosis (Puerperal Psychosis)
This disorder is rare and occurs after birth in 1 in 500 new mothers.
Signs are feeling totally out of touch with reality, delusions, anger and hostility towards the baby plus the other signs of depression. Psychiatric treatment and medication will treat this condition very successfully and a full recovery will be made.
When Dad or the family feel the Mum is showing any of the depressive signs, and is just not herself, contact the family doctor. It can be treated and it will all get better.