Now that your baby has arrived, the last thing you're probably expecting to feel is moody, weepy and irritable. If you're feeling this way, it's most likely baby blues, also known as postnatal blues. Don't worry because this is​ so common, it's thought to be normal. All you need to do is understand the symptoms and learn how to manage them.

What exactly is baby blues?

Baby blues is one of the most common forms of postnatal syndromes, occurring in two-thirds of women. It normally hits sometime during the first week after delivery and doesn't last long, subsiding within a few days to a week. It's most commonly experienced by first-time mums who have no previous experience with motherhood as well as with mums who have poor support.

You may feel a gamut of emotions:

  • Irritable or frustrated, sometimes when baby's crying
  • Anxious about coping with your baby and overwhelmed by the realities of parenthood
  • Worried about your baby's health, even though baby is fine
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Tired but unable to sleep even when time permits it
  • Tearful without knowing why

What causes baby blues?

They're thought to be linked to hormonal changes that happen during the week after giving birth. Your body has a lot of adjustments to make including coming down from the adrenaline high that you felt when your baby was born.

Will the baby blues last long?

Don't worry, baby blues doesn't last long and is not considered an illness. In addition, it does not affect your ability to care for your baby. Rest assured that it will pass within the week, maybe even sooner and you'll feel better.

How to manage baby blues?

Since it lasts for such a short duration, there's no need to see a doctor. With the right amount of rest, support, encouragement and reassurance from your family and friends, you'll soon start to feel better. However, if these symptoms persist longer than two weeks, do seek further advice from your doctor.

Are there other emotional issues to be aware of?

You should be aware of postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis. Postnatal depression is common, affecting one in 10 women who have recently delivered. Symptoms, including irritability, poor sleep and tearfulness, are similar to that of baby blues. However, they tend to last longer than a week and will not go away without medical assistance.

Postnatal psychosis is a severe but rare form of post-partum psychiatric illness. A warning sign is a rapid shift in mood — the person could be depressed one moment and euphoric the next. She may also have delusional thoughts, hear voices or see things that are not real. Both conditions would require medical attention and treatment so do see a doctor if you have any concerns.

Video: Coping with Postnatal Depression

Emotional well-being is very important for mothers after giving birth. Learn about postnatal depression, some things to look out for and what mothers can do to cope.

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By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG
Senior O&G Resident, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

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