It’s common for baby blues to kick in a few weeks after your baby is born. Here are some insightful tips based on my own experience.
As a first-time mom who had the happiest pregnancy journey following a miscarriage, and who attended classes and read articles with my husband in preparation for postpartum, experiencing baby blues was the last thing I expected. This was especially after witnessing my sister-in-law, who gave birth a couple of months before me, experience something similar. Seeing it firsthand motivated me to prepare for the challenges that the fourth trimester would bring.
My Experience with Baby Blues
However, no amount of resources and firsthand experiences could prepare me for what felt like a truck that hit me! A few days after I gave birth via normal spontaneous delivery, the exhaustion truly kicked in. And so did my baby blues. Cambria, my baby girl, was born right before Christmas and the surge of the Omicron variant. The holidays were a blur of excited family members visiting. I tremendously enjoyed their company and support—perhaps because I was also struggling with the pains of breastfeeding, and I always had them to talk to. But alas—some of them tested positive, which further added to my anxiety. This prevented them from visiting us for a while, too.
Though my husband and his family (who we live with in the same compound) were incredibly loving and supportive, at that time I couldn’t describe what I was feeling or experiencing. I became extremely possessive and protective of Cambria. There were many times I didn’t want to share her with anyone else. Later on, I read that this was commonly known as the Mama Bear Effect. According to Science Daily, women who breastfeed are more likely to demonstrate this.
Slowly, the dark cloud over my head grew bigger and bigger. I found myself randomly breaking down at least once a day. The shower was particularly my favorite spot. There were times I questioned if I was being a good mother to Cambria. Other times, I felt guilty for wanting my old life back with my husband when we still lived in a small studio unit with just our pet dog and cat. The worst of my thoughts was when I would stare out of the balcony of our home and wonder, “What if I just jumped off and disappeared?”
That last part took me a while to admit to my husband.
Overcoming My Baby Blues
Going through baby blues made me realize how much mothers undeniably need support. If it takes nine months of utmost care to bring a child out into this world, the same should be given postpartum. This can help ensure a happy and healthy mother—because a mother whose cup is full has enough to pour and can take better care of her child.
By communicating better with my husband and learning how to ask for help when I needed it, I was able to overcome my baby blues. In addition, having a support group of fellow moms made a huge difference. I felt empowered that my way of doing things and the choices I made for Cambria were right for her.
So if you’re a mom currently struggling with your postpartum journey, here are some tips I can offer based on my own experience.
Tips to Conquer Baby Blues
1. Do at least one small act of self-care each day
This was a little difficult for me during the first month when Cambria would breastfeed almost every 30 minutes. But at night, while my husband carried her, I took a bit more time in the shower and made sure to never miss my skincare routine. Doing this made me feel like I was still in control of who I was even though there were times I felt like a walking zombie from not getting enough sleep.
On top of this, little things like drinking my vitamins and subscribing to a healthy meal delivery service (since I had no time to cook or prepare meals) helped give me enough energy. I made sure to eat lots of vegetables, avoided sweets and carbs, and consumed at least 1,800 calories a day to maintain my milk supply. Though I wasn’t in a hurry to lose the pregnancy weight, it just happened on its own thanks to exclusively breastfeeding and eating healthily.
At times, I would miss my skinnier frame from before I got pregnant. But I’ve embraced my new curves and am thankful to my body for being so strong in carrying Cambria and birthing her so easily. (It only took me five pushes!)
2. Establish a routine early on
When Cambria was a newborn, a lot of moms advised establishing a routine. This is to help her become familiar with her environment and eventually develop good sleeping habits. I primarily wanted to do this as early as possible to make things easier for us once my maternity leave ended. It’s been nearly four months and we more or less stick to the same routine.
However, despite having one, there are still good days and rough days. What’s nice about having a routine is it provides Cambria a sense of comfort and familiarity—making her less fussy. I learned a lot from attending a Taking Cara Babies class, too. Here I learned different ways to soothe her, identify her sleepy cues, and put her to sleep. I downloaded the Glow Baby app as well—to help me track her naps, feeding sessions, and diaper changes. Doing these things allowed me to create my own method and routine, determine what works for us and what doesn’t, and foresee what she might be needing next.
Because of this, I had little windows throughout the day that I could dedicate to myself or the things I needed to get done!
3. Learn to ask for help
Again, I can’t reiterate enough how important this is. Because we don’t have a yaya or nanny, I never hesitated to ask my husband for help when I needed it. Luckily, we both work from home so the setup is very ideal. Additionally, since we’re neighbors with my in-laws, I’ve learned to ask for help from my mother-in-law—especially when I resumed working. Since my family lives a few minutes away as well, it was easy to ask for help from my mom and siblings.
Help comes in the form of talking to your doctor, too. During the first three months of my postpartum journey, I consulted with my OB-Gyn twice. It helped me to know that I was physically healing well. My doctor also discussed what to expect in the coming weeks.
But if you think that what you’re experiencing isn’t just baby blues anymore and could be postpartum depression, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help. I think it’s about time we normalize that moms are allowed to show their feelings of despondency. That it’s not always about rainbows and unicorns with our babies. At the end of the day, we’re just humans.
4. Find a support group
Having my sister-in-law to talk to in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning while we were both breastfeeding helped me so much during my fourth trimester. I also have a couple of mom friends who gave birth at the same time as me, and I found myself talking to them often. Moreover, I was so surprised to have gotten an overwhelming amount of support from fellow moms on Instagram. It filled my heart with gratitude and relief because I knew I was not alone.
I had the most loving, caring, and supportive husband who tried to make things easier for me, too. And I do appreciate everything that he has done. In addition to his efforts, having fellow moms who completely understood what I was going through reminded me that I wasn’t alone in my battles.
5. Let go of the household chores first
As vexing as it may be to see a pile of unwashed dishes or laundry, or a messy home in general, try to forget about it first and just focus on yourself and the baby. Know that things will eventually normalize.
6. Do things that make you feel like YOU
I guess it was normal for me not to feel like myself during the first month when all I did was breastfeed, change diapers, then breastfeed a dozen times more. But it was my husband who encouraged me to still do little things that I loved doing. So while breastfeeding, I started playing my favorite game on Nintendo Switch. I watched my favorite shows and discovered new fanfiction stories to read. And slowly but surely, I felt like I was myself again.
When the Struggle is Real
On some days, you might find yourself struggling with your baby blues more than usual. To be honest, I still struggle on some days. When this happens to me, I just remind myself of a quote that many moms shared: “The nights are long but the years are short.” Your baby will grow so fast that before you know it, you’ll suddenly miss his or her newborn days. I know I do!
Liked this story? Find more here:
Katarina Rodriguez: Overcoming the Fourth Trimester
Postpartum Depression: Understanding the Unseen in This
How To Get Rid of Mom (or Dad) Guilt According To Dr. Lia Bernardo and Ria Trillo