Changes in hormone levels after childbirth can profoundly affect the emotions. In most women, emotional swings - the "baby blues" - last only a few days, but in others they lead to more prolonged, serious condition called postnatal depression.
The "baby blues" are mood swings caused by hormonal changes. In all likelihood this period of feeling low one minute and euphoric the next will not last beyond the first week but you still need a lot of support to get you through it.
Maybe the "baby blues" are a natural sign to those around you that you need time and space to come to terms with being a mother.
Your hormones, progesterone and oestrogen, will have been high during pregnancy. After you have had your baby, these hormone levels drop and your body may find it difficult to adjust.
This can have a marked effect on your emotions. With this, and the fact that you are probably completely exhausted from the labour and lack of sleep, it is not at all surprising that you may not be feeling on top of the world.
If symptoms that started out as the common "baby blues" do not go away and in fact, start to become worse, you could be suffering from postnatal depression.
There are many reasons why postnatal depression occurs. It depends on you as a person, your personal circumstances and the way your baby behaves. The following risk factors may make you more susceptible to postpartum depression -
- If you enjoyed a senior position at work or high-flying career before the birth, it can be difficult to adjust to the status changed.
- If you already have difficulties in your relationship, the baby may make them worse; this in itself may lead to disillusionment and low self-esteem.
- If you had an unexpectedly difficult birth experience, you could easily feel demoralized and feel that you have failed in some way.
- If you have had depression in the past, you are more prone to it now.
- A very demanding, sleepless baby can trigger it from sheer exhaustion.
- If you have particularly difficult living conditions and no support network, this can exacerbate postnatal depression.
- If you have bottled up your emotions and not sought help early on, postnatal depression may develop.