Some mothers go through the postnatal period without too many problems, but for others, the difficulties are more important. Baby blues, postnatal depression or just temporary consequences of lack of sleep?
For those who have already had a baby, who has not during the first year felt moments of extreme fatigue and discouragement? These moments were more or less frequent, more or less long and more or less intense depending on the person. These more difficult times also bring their share of questions and often the emergence of feelings of guilt. Am I a good mother? Is it normal for me to feel like this? Is this the baby blues? Am I in postnatal depression? However, I should be happy and fulfilled with a beautiful he althy baby! My grandma had 8 and she never complained!
Partum blues, caused by the significant hormonal changes experienced by mothers in the days following childbirth, affect 50% to 80% of new mothers. The symptoms characterizing them are fatigue, sadness, mood swings, the tendency to cry and thedifficulty concentrating. Often very intense, these symptoms can be interspersed with feelings of elation, euphoria or wonder, emotional states diametrically opposed to the first. All of these symptoms appear between the 3rd and 5th day postpartum and normally disappear 1 to 2 weeks later.
Postnatal depression affects between 8 and 15% of new mothers. The symptoms that can be observed are very similar to those of the blues, except that in cases of depression they appear later in the postnatal period, develop slowly and insidiously and reach higher and more tangible degrees of intensity. The causes of postnatal depression are not clearly established, they would result from the interaction of 3 factors; hormonal, psychosocial and neuroendocrine. This condition is difficult to identify in its early stages, as the symptoms are blurred by the overlapping symptoms of fatigue related to motherhood. In addition, mothers are reluctant to talk about it for fear of being judged. Symptoms of postnatal depression rarely go away without professional help.
How can we help?
There are no "vaccines" that can prevent and prevent the onset of baby blues or postnatal depression, but we can still put the odds on our side. Prevention and preparation for the arrival of the baby remain a strategy that will not necessarily preventthe appearance of symptoms, but which, at the very least, may help to get through or minimize the devastating effects.
In order to prepare for the arrival of our baby or to be able to help a new mother, it is important to know the physical and psychosocial dimensions that will be affected during the postnatal period. The postnatal period is initiated by the birth of the baby, it is the result of several months of life including preconception, conception, pregnancy and childbirth. By the time she debuts, the new mom has already gone through some potentially life-changing stages. The physical dimensions of the new mother affected by the arrival of the baby are multiple.
His diet will be affected by the lack of time and energy to prepare meals and even to eat. On the other hand, a he althy diet (3 meals and 3 snacks a day) is essential, as it promotes better recovery and tissue healing, prevents anemia and provides general well-being.
To prepare or to help with food
Stock up meals or give the mother-to-be he althy snacks (whole grain muffins, homemade granola bars, etc.) or whole meals that can be frozen
His sleep will be altered by the demands related to the arrival of the newborn, so the possibility of resting well will be reduced. It's important toget enough rest, as lack of sleep affects the general well-being of the mother, which in turn will have an impact on the spouse and other family members, including the baby. Additionally, severe fatigue can lead to postpartum depression.
To get ready or to help with sleep
- Try to sleep well before delivery (good nights sleep and afternoon naps).
- Finding help at home to take care of babies, older children, or to do housework so you can sleep. The CRP Les Relevailles de Montréal offers a respite service at home. Treat yourself to Relevailles gift certificates for the respite service, or make homemade certificates, entitling you to a complete cleaning, or to a few hours of babysitting or older children.
There are other physical dimensions that can affect the well-being of the new mother in the postnatal period. Abundant blood loss during the first weeks, more or less intense contractions felt during breastfeeding, healing of the perineum, lack of physical exercise.
To prepare or to help with physical discomfort
- These discomforts can seem amplified, especially when you have to take care of a baby and receive visitors who want to congratulate you.
- In the days following the return from the hospital, it may be interesting to establish hours ofspecific visits and to ask a relative or friend to take care of receiving visitors (greeting them at the door, guiding them through the house, offering them refreshments).
- It is also beneficial to ask visitors to bring a small snack or part of the meal, so that you do not have to go out to the grocery store and prepare food.
In terms of the psychosocial dimensions affecting mothers in the postnatal period, we first talk about adaptation to the parental role. The first year of a child is an important transition period for the mother, the newborn and the whole family. This adaptation requires parents to make changes that allow them to assume their new role and integrate the baby into the family. The new parental role is a source of valorization and joy, but it can also generate stress, fatigue, marital tensions, a decrease in time for oneself and for the life of a couple, restrictions on the social, economic level and professional and the addition of great responsibilities. The new mother will have to adjust, and to do so, will go through different phases during which the support of her environment will be very beneficial.
To prepare or to help adapt to parenting
- Prepare by having in hand the list of various resources in the neighborhood that could help break isolation and answer questions, because one of the most appreciated aidsof new mothers turns out to be the exchanges they can have with each other, through courses, workshops, godmothers and respite at home.
- Parents and relatives can be an important source of help in this transition, especially through the support they can provide. This support can be done through listening, encouragement, non-judgment and concrete demonstration of trust in the new mother.
- It is also possible to offer him a gift certificate for a workshop or course that interests him. It can be interesting to facilitate the participation in activities by offering him as a gift round trip transportation.
Another psychosocial dimension that can cause difficulties is the adaptation of the siblings to the arrival of the newborn. Indeed, the arrival of a new child affects all members of the family. Some children demonstrate behavioral changes, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.
To prepare or to help siblings adapt to the arrival of the newborn
- Children need reassurance of parents' unconditional love. They will need your support and understanding, even when they are in a bad mood. These various attempts to get your attention can be difficult to deal with, but most importantly listen to them, as it's their way of making sure you haven't forgotten about them.
- It could beprofitable to involve them in the preparation for the arrival of the baby and in the care to be provided.
- For those close to the family visiting the newborn for the first time, it would be a good idea to go to the eldest first, check on him, ask him to introduce you to his new little one sister or new baby brother.
- You can also offer a homemade gift certificate for babysitting time so parents can get out and have some special time with the older child. In addition, the CRP Les Relevailles home respite service can also be used for babysitting to free up parents wishing to spend some time with the other child.
The list of physical and psychosocial dimensions affecting general well-being in the postnatal period listed above is certainly not exhaustive. On the other hand, it demonstrates very well on its own the vulnerability of women during the postnatal period. Some mothers go through it without too much trouble, but for others, the difficulties are more important. We can nevertheless say that giving birth to a beautiful, he althy baby is a source of joy, appreciation and pride, but also a source of fatigue, stress and responsibilities that can be very difficult to live with and that can lead to depression.
So, do not hesitate to ask for support at any time, it will not make you a bad mother, on the contrary, it will show your concern for goodget out of it.