When Jackson was born, I got a fright. This beautiful, squirmy little creature was handed to me by the doctor and all of a sudden it hit me: I was a mother. There was no getting out of this now. I was struck by how negative that thought was; not at all the thrill and euphoria that I’d been led to believe I’d feel by all the baby books and movies.
That was the beginning of a tough few weeks in which I was hit by what I now know was a really common condition that’s known as the “baby blues.”
I certainly wasn’t alone. Somewhere around 80% of new mothers experience this post partum low mood. Although you may feel truly mentally ill, this emotional rollercoaster is actually caused by a drop in your hormone levels following the end of pregnancy and the birth of your baby and is not quite the same as major clinical depression.
Although the baby blues may not be the same as depression, it sure does feel similar. Drastic mood swings are a primary symptom, along with weepiness, anxiety, irritability and exhaustion. You can also experience some variations in appetite, either wanting to eat more than usual or not being hungry at all.
Luckily for me, this terrible, terrifying feeling passed by the time Jackson was around 2 weeks old. Some women are not so fortunate, and find that the baby blues stick around and that they are actually suffering from post partum depression (PPD).
This is a more serious and enduring illness, so if your emotions are still running high (or low) for more than a few weeks after birth, consider seeing your doctor or midwife to get screened for PPD. It’s also pretty common and is nothing to be ashamed of. Treatment is there if you ask for it.