Part 2: Emotions — Swings take control

This is part 2 in a 5-part series about postpartum body changes.

The first time I experienced the baby blues I was in the shower. About a week after my first was born, my conditioner wouldn’t open easily.

So naturally, I started crying. A lot.

This type of emotional rollercoaster happened after each of my kiddos was born. I couldn’t contain it — though God knows I tried.

Relatable buddy

I found the best way to cope was to just acknowledge the rushes as they happened (to avoid freaking out my husband). And to remind myself there was no real reason for these feelings (to avoid getting myself worked up).

I also found it comforting to know it’s normal.

A wide majority (up to 80%) of new moms will get strong emotional swings within the first 2 weeks after birth. This ranges from feeling sadness and crying to feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

There is surprisingly little research into what causes this to happen.

Some studies have looked into whether these emotional swings are related to sharp drops in hormones (such as estradiol and progesterone levels) after pregnancy ends. The findings were mixed and inconclusive.

Hormones aside, it’s worth remembering the circumstance isn’t easy. You’re sleep deprived, adjusting to a big life change, and dealing with other health challenges, ranging from night sweats to recovering from surgery.

Beyond the blues, roughly 1 in 6 of all new moms experience postpartum depression within the first year. In these cases, the symptoms are severe to the point where it’s hard to care for yourself or your baby and long-lasting (lingering 2 weeks or more).

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

There are more than 2 dozen risk factors, including having depression during pregnancy, lacking social support, or having a bad birth experience. Anyone can get it.

Unfortunately, many people facing postpartum depression (more than 80% in one study) do not seek professional help. That’s scary.

Before having your baby, ask your partner to be aware of what to look for (and to avoid confusing serious concerns with baby blues). You may not recognize the symptoms in yourself.

Also, have a resource handy in case you need to talk to a professional counselor. One is the 24/7 maternal mental health hotline.

This is part 2 of a 5-part series. Click below the other sections.

(Part 1) 4th-trimester shocks – A 5-part roadmap

(Part 3) Abs – Why the gym won’t cure a (post-baby) jelly belly

(Part 4) Sexual stuff… Baby, don’t tear me apart

(Part 5) Teeth, skin, hair – When the baby glow fades

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