The science bit
Within a week of your baby’s birth, high levels of pregnancy hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which helped to sustain your healthy pregnancy, drop. With all this going on in your body, it’s no wonder you find yourself euphoric one minute but sobbing into your baby’s wet wipes the next. It’s also thought these fluctuations may be a factor in causing postnatal depression (PND) in some new mums.
The Baby Blues
The reality of having responsibility for this tiny, helpless little person who has just entered your life can be daunting. For every moment you gaze into your baby’s eyes and feel overwhelmed by love, there will be a moment you look at him and panic. Can you really cut those minute fingernails without chopping his fingers off? Do you really need to give him a bath before he’s, say, 2? And will you ever be able to work out why he’s crying?
Try not to be too hard on yourself – all those feelings are normal. ‘The baby blues usually kick in around two to four days after the birth when pregnancy hormones are leaving your body and you’re coming down from the high,’ says midwife Jayne Bates. ‘Most mums feel low and tearful and have moments where they doubt their ability to cope, but these feelings are normal and should only last a few days.’
So remember, the baby blues are part of your rite of passage, and you’ll soon be mummy multi-tasking without a second thought, and instinctively knowing an ‘I’m hungry’ cry from an ‘I’m bored’ whinge. However, Jayne warns, ‘The baby blues shouldn’t be confused with postnatal depression, which usually starts around
10 to 14 days after giving birth.’
No new mum will be surprised to hear that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture in some regimes! Unfortunately, your baby doesn’t know that. Immediately after the physical marathon of birth, you really need some kip to recover. Sadly, your baby doesn’t know that, either. But
in the twilight world of new motherhood, a couple of hours sleep can make a huge difference, so don’t feel bad about handing him to nurses or family while you sleep.
Long term, lack of sleep can affect your mood and your ability to bond with your baby, so try to nap whenever your baby does, and let your partner or mum worry about the washing, ironing and cooking.