When you’re pregnant, you’ll find yourself looking forward to those early days with your baby with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Sure, you know it’s going to be hard at times, and you and your family are going to go through a phase of adapting to your new normal, but it’s also a journey you can hardly wait to begin.
When contemplating what life is going to be like in those early postpartum weeks, you’ll likely be thinking about your health and reality with baby. There is no denying the fact that, physically, you will be dealing with a range of changes, as your body returns back to its normal self following your pregnancy. However, it’s not just physical changes that you should anticipate– you’re also going to experience a number of emotional upheaval, too. Some new moms find themselves surprised by this when the time comes, which can make the early days postpartum all the more confusing. I know I wasn’t ready for the emotions that came and now make sure I give that advice to moms everywhere.
The hormonal change
In some ways, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you experience a range of different emotions during the first weeks of your new baby’s life. The hormonal changes that your body will go through are incredibly intense, which does tend to lead to more than a little emotional stress. Combine this with the sleep deprivation you’ll likely be experiencing, it’s completely natural that you’ll experience the full gamut of emotions during this early stage of your baby’s life.
In an effort to ensure you’re aware of what you might face in those first few weeks, below is an in-depth look at the most common postpartum emotions, feelings, and concerns that can plague new parents– so if you experience any of these, you’ll have the tools you need to cope as well as you possibly can…
#1 – Happiness
Let’s deal with the most obvious, overwhelming emotion you are likely to experience during the early days of postpartum: happiness!
Many new mothers describe the feelings of joy and elation they experience after birth as the most potent and convincing of their lives– words like “euphoria” and “bliss” are the descriptive words most frequently used. If you have ever wondered just how true-to-life these descriptions are (especially given the fact that many new parent guides simply emphasize the fact that life with a newborn is challenging and difficult, which doesn’t sound like “euphoria”), then don’t be concerned: the happiness is an absolute biological fact.
The happiness is charged by a hormonal change, when your body is pumping with the hormone oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as “the love hormone”. So while there’s no doubt the early days will be challenging, your body is already taking care of the issue by ensuring you’re feeling some of the most wonderful emotions you have ever felt as you come to deal with those trying times.
It is worth mentioning, however, that you might not feel overwhelming happiness. Some moms, expecting to be endlessly ecstatic after the birth, can find it rather bewildering if they are not suddenly the happiest they have ever been in their lives. This, too, is normal: hormones impact everyone differently, and some women won’t feel that happiness quite as strongly. If you’re concerned that you’re not feeling any particular feelings of happiness at all, then it’s always worth raising the issue with a medical professional; you’ll feel relieved by their insight.
#2 – Paranoia
The paranoia that women tend to experience after giving birth is a very specific one: a paranoia that something will happen to their baby.
In some ways, this paranoia is absolutely inevitable. New parents are warned about so many potential ways their new baby could be harmed, from learning to spot the signs of sepsis to battling with the possibility of SIDS. Given all of these warnings — which have a legitimate basis in fact — it’s easy to see why paranoia is such a common visitor during those first few weeks.
The paranoia you experience is completely natural, and some would even say necessary, but it can also be rather disturbing. When planning for life after the birth, it’s well worth taking the time to think about how you can deal with paranoia. Sterilizing machines, for example, can help to reassure you that everything your baby uses is as clean as can possibly be, so it’s well worth ensuring you buy a dedicated machine for this purpose during your baby prep. The same is true of a video monitoring system; The Burp Cloth has an excellent review of one of the most popular models on the market.
While a sterilizing machine and a video monitoring system will help with the paranoia, it’s unlikely that they will reduce it completely. Just try to remember that your ever-present fear will eventually begin to ease, as your baby begins to grow and develop, and you realize that you’re doing everything right. The older they get, the more secure you’ll feel: you’ll still worry (because you’re a parent!) but the gripping, terrified paranoia is a transitory state for the vast majority of parents.
#3 – Frustration
Many new moms find themselves surprised by how frequently they find themselves feeling frustrated, especially over small issues. The fact that you can’t get a button to hold together, the exact angle the sun is hitting the window, or a diaper tab not holding as neatly as it should– little things like this can be the cause of a great amount of irritation, and you’ll likely experience no small amount of frustration in those early weeks postpartum.
This can be rather surprising, especially if prior to giving birth, you’d have considered yourself a fairly even-tempered person. Have you suddenly turned into the kind of person who can’t handle the slightest setback? Is this how you’re going to be forever?
If you find yourself worrying about the above, then don’t worry: the answer to both questions is a solid “no”. The actual source of your issues with frustration isn’t particularly related to your new motherhood, but it is related to it. The cause? Sleep deprivation.
We all know that life with a newborn is tough; this is likely something that you readied yourself for and prepared to handle. You probably will handle the tiredness and the feeling of not sleeping enough thanks to this preparation, but what you can’t prepare for is just how much sleep deprivation can change your personality. The frustration you will inevitably feel, along with a quick temper, are a direct result of many nights of broken sleep.
The answer to this is as simple as it is obvious: sleep. If you find yourself struggling to keep control of your temper, then talk to your partner and see if there’s any way you can arrange to have at least one night of unbroken sleep.Sleep and mood are inextricably linked, and while you can wake yourself up superficially, there’s little you can do to cure the emotional impact apart from sleep itself.
#4 – Unhappiness
postpartum depression. Thankfully, more is known about postpartum depression now than at any other point in history, and most new moms will be watched carefully for any signs.
However, feeling unhappy after the birth of your child is not uncommon– and it does not necessarily mean that you have a case of PPD. The reason for the unhappiness you may sometimes experience is, once again, hormones. The hormonal changes you experience after giving birth are extreme, a point that simply cannot be overstated, and it’s only natural that some of those changes will bring forth feelings of being unhappy or upset. Just like a woman with PMT does not necessarily have clinical depression, a woman feeling unhappy after the birth of her child does not necessarily have PPD.
So some unhappiness is perhaps to be expected– though you need to be cautious about dismissing feelings of unhappiness too. This is, undoubtedly, a tough line to walk: how do you know you’re feeling a standard amount of unhappy? How much is “normal”? The problem is that these questions are subjective, so there’s no firm answer.
The best way to deal with feelings of unhappiness after giving birth is to talk about them. Talk to a medical professional or someone who knows you well, and allow them to help you decide if your feelings of unhappiness are a standard part of the hormonal change, or may be an indicator of something else. You may find that just being able to discuss this issue is enough to alleviate what you are feeling, or you may need to take further action– either way, it’s a topic you need to broach.
The emotional changes and mood swings that women experience after giving birth can be overwhelming. If you find yourself struggling, then try not to worry: it’s completely natural to struggle to adjust. Try and find a solution to ease the issue — be it via a machine or by talking to a medical professional — and rest assured that your hormones will eventually stabilize. In time, you’ll be back to feeling like your old self– only now, you’ve an adorable baby, too!
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