Congratulations on your new bundle of joy. The moment you’ve been anticipating for more than nine months of cravings, nausea, stretch marks, cankles, ultrasounds, listening to heartbeats, feeling baby kicks, nursery preparations, breathing, and a rollercoaster of emotions has finally arrives … Now what?
Oh the joys of becoming a new mom! Oh the bliss! You’re the vision of beauty, a natural mom! The happy, helpful husband by your side! The overbearing grandparents and relatives who spoil your baby boy or girl with gifts and hugs and kisses! The perfect baby who sleeps all night and never cries!
Who are we kidding? For some, this may be a reality … but for others, it simply isn’t so.
The hormones are a-raging. The milk comes in. And the baby blues kick in.
It’s just the blues, you tell yourself. Crying and laughing within the same breath. It’ll pass, they say, and for most new moms it does after a short time. But you can’t shake it. It’s not getting better. Weeks have passed and you should be happy — you have a beautiful baby — but you’re just not.
Get help. Period. See your doctor. Let go of the guilt and take care of yourself. If you are well mentally and emotionally healthy, then you can enjoy your baby as you’re meant to.
You’re meant to enjoy the newborn smell. The cuddles. The coos. Even when you will feel that huge need to take a break it’s okay. You’re still a good mother.
You’ll be cranky due to the lack of sleep and feel like it’s all a blur. Ask for help — even an hour so you can take a shower and get a bite to eat.
Ask for food. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, welcome your mom’s home cooking and don’t say no to your mother-in-law’s casserole because you’re going to be hungry all the time. These homemade dishes will come in handy when you’re exhausted and feeling like a milk machine.
No one told you breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally and that your nipples will crack and bleed and you’ll want to give it up. Your pro-breastfeeding friends will urge you to keep going but if it becomes too much don’t feel guilty. Do what is right for you.
Enjoy the friends and family who want to see the baby — when you are ready. The ones who pop in to visit the baby without any notice and don’t get the hint when they see the anti-bacterial gel at the door? Don’t worry if they get offended when you tell them that you’re not ready for visitors yet.
When you come out of the big blur, when you get some more sleep, when you get the hang of diapering, feeding, burping, swaddling routine, you will snap out of that zombie-like slumber and rise above. Feel normal again. You will be a stronger and wiser woman, someone who can care for her baby but also herself. You will come out of the darkness and enjoy the light again, I promise.
From one mama to another.
Maria Lianos-Carbone is publisher and editor of AMotherWorld, an online lifestyle magazine for the modern mother. A proud mom of two rambunctious boys, you can follow her ramblings on Twitter at @amotherworld.
Donations to Postpartum Progress can be made here: http://postpartumprogress.org/donate-postpartum-depression-2/