Baby Blues

How to help yourself when you've got post-natal blues.
The days and weeks immediately following the birth of your baby can be an emotional roller-coaster. You can expect to experience elation, wonder, anxiety, and -- if you are like most new moms -- at least a touch of the blues.

Experts estimate that between 50 and 90 percent of all new mothers experience a bout of mild depression right after the birth of their babies. So if you've found yourself feeling weepy, sad, or irritable for no apparent reason, don't be hard on yourself. You have lots of company.

What causes the blues

The mild depression that affects women soon after giving birth is often referred to as "the baby blues," and while no one is sure exactly why it happens, there are several likely theories:

After baby is born, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in mom's body drop sharply, causing a deficit that can lead to the blues. As hormone levels return to their normal, pre-pregnancy levels, spirits tend to rise as well.

Physical discomfort
It takes a while to recover from childbirth, and pain from an episiotomy, hemorrhoids, or adjusting to breast-feeding can make new moms cranky.

Sleep deprivation/exhaustion
When the hard work of childbirth is followed by staying up late at night to care for your newborn, it's hard to recoup your sleep losses. It doesn't take long for sleep deprivation to have a negative effect on mood.

Psychological discomfort
For first-time moms, living with a new baby is a new and daunting experience. The day-to-day realities of caring for your infant may feel anticlimactic or overwhelming after 9 months of being the center of attention. If you're feeling a little disappointed by the experience, that disappointment may be compounded by a sense of guilt or inadequacy.

Beating the blues

For most new mothers, the "baby blues" is caused by a combination of these factors, and most find that the blues ease as their bodies return to normal and they become more comfortable living with baby. To make the transition easier, here are some steps you can take to relieve the stresses that contribute to the blues:

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