My symptoms of prenatal blues
I knew something was wrong with my mood swings but didn't want to talk about it. I felt run down, physically tired, nauseated, moody, sleepy in the afternoons and sleepless at night, grouchy, felt thrown off balance after grad school etc. I also felt bad I was not excited though we had planned the pregnancy and I craved a second baby. We had just put our then 2 year old son in preschool for two days a week and though feeling the blues, I still enjoyed playing with him and chatting with hubby.
In searching for answers, I found an article in Today's Parent on prenatal blues in pregnancy. It said " But for a variety of reasons — including symptoms people confuse with other common pregnancy complaints or don’t associate with depression, a lack of education on the subject, and the stigma of mental health issues — prenatal mood disorders often go undiagnosed. Women themselves may not know something is wrong until either the fog lifts or the depression deepens and relationships buckle under the strain."
• Feeling blue, sad, or "empty" for most of the day, every day
• It's harder to concentrate
• Extreme irritability or agitation or excessive crying
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time
• Extreme or never-ending fatigue
• A desire to eat all the time or not wanting to eat at all
• Inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
I had a subtle attitude that let my hubby know I didn't want to talk about it. He also didn't know what to say to alleviate the moodiness because I was so touchy about the subject. I however, did not lose functionality - I still played with our preschooler and enjoyed hanging out with my hubby and close friends.
Here's what my husband did to help:
- He took up alot more of the housework
- He helped me avoid extra outside responsibilities - I could use him as an excuse to cancel unnecessary engagements or delegate to others.
- He made sure I planned lunch dates with close girlfriends for some therapeutic girl talk.
- He made dinner some nights so I would not have to smell the food - nausea, mood swings and exhaustion don't mix well :)
- He avoided pressuring me to talk about it until I was ready to explain what I was feeling. However, I didn't just clam up - I tried to keep him updated on some of what I was thinking or feeling.
- He pushed me to take outdoor walks near the park and a close beach to refresh my mind.
- He played with our older son or took him to the park so I could have rest periods.
- Take it easy - There's stuff to be done but taking care of you and the baby is more important
- Bond with your partner - Your loved one cares about you. If you are in a relationship with someone who might endanger your life, please reach out to a trusted friend or call the national domestic violence hotline 1-800-799-SAFE for help.
- Talk it out - with partner, friends & family
- Manage your stress - Easier said than done :) Give yourself breaks, exercise even if its taking walks around the block & park, eat well - if you can keep it down :)
- Join an online pregnant mom's group is my personal advice.
- Arrange for support before you go to the hospital - someone to help clean the house, dishes, laundry if possible. That way you'll avoid the super mom syndrome that hits right after birth!
- Have another female available to talk to - priceless! our female friends who are mothers will gently remind us to take it easy, we have 18 years to try get it right :)
- Allow your spouse or partner to help you - stop micromanaging what they do. They might not wipe the counter in the same direction as you do but it gets cleaned. Major in the majors and ignore the minors.
- You are not superwoman or supermom - Its okay not to have the house spotlessly clean - the baby is not crawling yet:) Ask your spouse, friend or family to help, if not look for volunteer doulas who help new mothers.
- Arrange for help with older siblings - To avoid feeling overwhelmed and super guilty!
- Call that number the pediatrician gave you - if it will ease your mind, call the number or the nurses hotline and ask questions about your newborn baby. You are not the first mom to do that.
- Take time out for yourself - have your spouse, friend or relative watch the baby while you take a long luxurious shower, watch a show you like without interruption, talk on the phone with friends or family, read a magazine, take a short walk if you can etc.
- Join a local moms support group - its not a sign of weakness, you will get the most incredible ideas! My favorite group is MOPs International I once ran and belonged to one. There are other moms groups - checkout http://www.charmpost.com/ or South Florida Parenting if you live here in South Florida.