Having a baby is one of the most amazing and awesome events in a person’s life. Babies bring joy and laughter into the house. But the reality is, they also bring sleepless nights and inevitable and irreversible change. Having a baby also brings changes to a woman’s body. During pregnancy and right after, a woman will experience shifts in her hormones. This may cause her to feel some depression and anxiety. This is a perfectly natural response to the event and is called having the “baby blues.”
But how do you tell if what you are experiencing is the “baby blues” or postpartum depression (PPD)?
As I mentioned, the baby blues is a very normal reaction. While the symptoms of anxiety and depression don’t feel good, they are mild and typically only last about two weeks.
Should symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, a new mother is considered to have PPD and encouraged to seek care and guidance from a mental health professional.
Can New Fathers Experience “Baby Blues?”
You may be surprised to learn that rates of depression among new fathers are very similar to those among new mothers. While male depression and anxiety are not a result of fluctuating hormones, their experience is very real. The transition to parenthood is not an easy one, so it’s completely understandable to feel stressed about caring for your baby or worried about adjusting to the new family member.
How New Parents Can Get Relief
One of the best ways new parents can cope with the initial baby blues is to find support from friends and family. This is particularly true when the couple has had their first child. This support will ensure both mom and dad can get some much-needed rest in those first few weeks. It may be beneficial to plan some “away from baby” time in your weekly or monthly schedule or seek advice from experienced parents. After this time, they will have gotten their “sea legs” and feel a bit more confident with their parenting instincts.
It’s also important that both parents try and eat a balanced diet during this time. Try not to rely solely on fast food and other processed food items that may give you a quick burst of quick energy, only to have your energy and mood crash later. And it’s important to move your body in a way that you enjoy. This will keep your body feeling good and help the release of natural “feel-good” endorphins.
And finally, it may help to speak with a therapist. He or she can help you navigate your strong emotions and offer strategies to cope with being new parents. If you’d prefer to do your sessions from home to make things more convenient, telehealth sessions may be a good option for you.
If you or someone you know is a new parent and would like to explore treatment options, please give our Wilmington, NC counseling office a call at (910) 202-4326 or fill out our online contact form. We have several licensed therapists that would be happy to support you during this difficult transition.