Banish Baby Blues
"Baby blues" affect as many as 60 to 80 percent of childbearing women during the first year of their baby's life, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Lack of sleep, and hormonal changes, can wreak havoc, leaving you tired, emotional and sad. "Take care of yourself. Simple to say, hard to do," says Nancy M. Silva, M.D., fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and board-certified pediatrician in Brandon, Florida. "As a new mom, your baby's needs come first. However, much like an oxygen mask on an airplane, you must first care for yourself before you can help your baby." Silva shares the following small changes that may help to minimize the blues:
• Stay home with your little one the first few weeks. Although it may seem that everyone wants to see the new baby (and you want to show off your cutie too), preparing yourself for an outing can often get in the way of a new mother's need to rest. Also, try to rest when your baby sleeps, even if it's just a catnap or a short snooze. One exception: Go out for an hour or two alone every week to reconnect with yourself and the world. It may feel strange to leave your new baby, but time alone can bring sanity to a stressed Supermom. Mental respite is crucial.
• Drink plenty of liquids to keep yourself hydrated and to maintain your breast-milk supply.
• With a new baby to care for 24/7, you may forget to eat or simply not feel hungry. But your body needs energy, especially if you had a Cesarean or any complications. Eating small, frequent, healthful meals will sustain your appetite and provide a constant source of fuel.
• Meditation, deep breathing, massage and other relaxation techniques are great ways to relieve stress -- and prevent the blues. And now that your body is learning new positions for breastfeeding or formula-feeding, carrying baby, pushing a stroller, and lugging a heavy diaper bag, these techniques can prevent muscle strain too.
• Make time for skin-to-skin contact with baby. Studies show it will help you relax while also calming your baby. Consider it the all-natural high for both mom and baby.
• While the blues tend to dissipate, post-partum depression (PPD) is a more serious condition, and can be harder to shake. If the blues last more than two to three weeks, you are having trouble eating, sleeping or taking care of your baby, or you feel overwhelmingly sad, talk to your doctor.