If you are a first time mom it might be hard to discern whether or not you need help. Do you have the baby blues or is it postpartum depression? For me I kept thinking each week that I was suffering with the baby blues and would just wait for the crying and emotions to subside. I remember sitting in my doctors office gripping the table as for her to not see my hands trembling. I was afraid to admit I had a problem and needed help, so I lied and told her things were getting better.
What she didn't know was that I was suffering so bad that I would get anxiety attacks from around 8PM-6AM daily. I dreaded sitting in my rocking chair to nurse Calvin and having to stare at the night light while hearing my family enjoying life beyond my trapped bedroom doors. I felt guilty and not normal for not loving my healthy baby and as a result, I do not remember anything about Calvin as a newborn. I dreaded not getting enough sleep for fear of not being able to function the next day. I wish I had known that this was not an easy fix. I wish I had known that there were other people struggling with the same thing, and medicine to help me through these tough transitions.
Thanks to my dear friend, JG, whose precious son was only three weeks older than Calvin, I was slowly able to realize that I might actually need help. She explained to me what the "baby blues" was like, and how the blues had gone away rather quickly for her. But I felt as though what I was experiencing was something far different, and maybe more extreme.
It is absolutely crucial to be open and honest with your family and doctors about the emotions that come after giving birth. Sharing your thoughts and talking about your frustrations and anxiety in itself proves to be beneficial. Especially if you have never dealt with depression prior to having a baby, not being warned of the possibility of baby blues or postpartum depression can leave you feeling so lost. If I had been somehow warned about the aftermath of having a baby, I would have realized the importance of speaking up earlier, vs. waiting months and months for it to end.
When a friend of mine has a baby (whether it's their first or fifth), I can easily tell if they are going through these fourth trimester emotions. A few texts and a phone call, or bringing them a meal helps me to see if they may need some support. *Note: I'm thankful for the handful of friends who have easily transitioned into motherhood with little complications.
I encourage you to try to talk to moms who have recently given birth, even if they seem to be doing okay. Try to offer them practical help and support, such as the following:
- Come over and ask if they need help. Give them specifics like help with laundry, or dinner prep.
- Bring them a meal and be sure to ask them what they like.
- Bring them a nice candle, and maybe some lotion.
- Offer to hold their baby, so they can shower.
- Ask them if they need anything from the store.
- Never over-extend your welcome. Remember that new moms get tired quickly!
- Invite her out for a cup of coffee and help her load up (and unload) the car.
- Help clean/tidy up her house.
- Call and text a few days later to ask if she would like some more company.