30 Dec Emotions after giving birth, what to expect and how to cope
Giving birth is the most exhilarating, scary, life-altering experience. Your hormones surge, your body is trying to physically heal, you’re sleep-deprived and countless visitors drop in to welcome your baby to the world. In the immediate days, weeks, and even months after giving birth, you’re very vulnerable and need a support network that can look out for signs that your mental health might be suffering.
Emotions after giving birth
Mood swings are the things you have before you come on your period. You need a whole other word for what you experience after the birth of your child. The sheer joy at watching your baby sleep is completely unfathomable to anyone who hasn’t had a child of their own. The deep despair you feel when, as a new mum, you can not calm your baby who is crying in the middle of the night. Mood swings are completely normal.
In the ten days following the birth of your baby, you might find you are particularly tired and irritable. Your body is on overdrive and in recovery mode. No matter how much love you have for your new bundle, you’re still likely to be blue for a few days. For now, there’s nothing to worry about and things should start looking up in a week or so.
Postnatal depression (PND)
If you find that you are still suffering after one month, it’s time to seek medical attention. PND can set in later, up to a year after the birth of your child.
No one knows exactly what causes PND and why it affects some women and not others, so there aren’t any steps you can take to prevent it. The good news is that treatments are effective, albeit improvement is gradual. PND affects 10% of women who give birth so you aren’t the only one, search professional help and breastfeeding and other support groups.
Postpartum psychosis is an extremely serious mental illness that requires immediate psychiatric attention. Hallucinations, delusions and confused thoughts are all symptoms of postpartum psychosis. In extreme cases the mother might try and harm herself or her baby. The nature of the illness means that it’s extremely difficult for a woman to recognise the symptoms in herself. As part of her psychosis, she may mistrust those closest to her and not confide in them with her symptoms. Luckily the condition is rare and only 0.2% of women who have given birth are diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. It generally manifests within one month of giving birth.
Most women have a completely healthy emotional response to giving birth. Should you be in the minority of more serious cases, it’s not your fault and help is out there for you. Make sure you have someone to confide in when things are overwhelming. You can look forward to having a strong and healthy bond with your new baby.
Prepare yourself before the birth to be sure to get all the support needed afterwards (someone cooking, cleaning the house, etc.), find out where to go in case you may need help (gynechologist, nurse, perinatal psychologist, doula, breastfeeding consultant, etc.).