Has your partner or wife been depressed and crying after having a baby? She may be suffering from the baby blues.
After our baby was born, my wife was very depressed and anti-social. She spent most of the day in bed, usually crying. Nothing seemed to console her. She didn’t want to spend time with our newborn. Every time I spoke with her, she broke down into tears. I was devastated. I couldn’t understand why my wife was so upset and depressed. Turns out she was suffering from the baby blues.
The baby blues are NOT postpartum depression, although they are very similar.
The baby blues have a wide range of possible symptoms, including:
- Depression – your partner may be seriously depressed for extended periods of time.
- Feelings of guilt – your partner may have feelings of guilt – guilt that she doesn’t want to be with the baby, spend time with the baby, or doesn’t feel an immediate connection with the baby.
- Anxiety – she may feel anxious about taking the care of the baby. A baby can be overwhelming and she may not feel up to the challenge.
- Fear – she might be scared that she will injury the baby or does not know how to take care of the baby.
- Feelings of inadequacy – your partner might feel that she is not up to the challenge of being a mother.
- Anti-social – she doesn’t want to be around people or the baby.
- Mood swings – she will likely swing between all of the above moods and then some.
Baby blues typically manifest 3-5 days after the birth.
My wife’s fight with the baby blues began almost immediately after we came home from the hospital. We were in the hospital for three and half days. We introduced the baby to the dog after arriving home, and my wife went upstairs to rest while the baby slept. After a few hours, she didn’t come out, even though the baby was hungry.
We decided we were going to breastfeed the baby, which put a heavy burden on my wife. Breastfeeding is not easy, and we were having a lot of trouble getting the baby to feed and latch correctly. We had to hand express and feed the baby with a syringe. Initially, I just though my wife was upset that she was having so much trouble with breastfeeding. As the days went by, it became apparent it wasn’t just breastfeeding issues that were upsetting her.
Baby blues typically last 1-3 weeks.
As the time went by, my wife slipped further into depression. She spent all day in the bedroom. She would weep anytime I tried to talk to her. She could not articulate what was wrong or why she was feeling depressed. This put a huge burden on me. I was suddenly the only caregiver in the house for my baby and my wife. She could not cook or clean. She did not want to spend time with the baby. She didn’t even want to feed or try to feed the baby.
I had to practically force her to spend time with the baby. It was the only thing that seemed to help her mood. After doing some skin to skin with the baby, her mood would be lifted for an hour or two, then she’d fall back into depression. I had to make her meals and deliver them to her in bed, staying with her to make sure she was eating.
Her moods would fluctuate between depression, weeping, and feelings of guilt. She did not feel a connection with the baby, and she felt she was not being a good mother since we were having difficulty breastfeeding.
I was taking care of two people, not just a baby. I felt guilty spending all the time with the baby and enjoying the baby while my wife was shut away in the bedroom. I felt terrible for my wife, after spending time with her and listening to her weep, I felt like crying when I left her. It was painful to see her in such depression and guilt. Taking care of my wife was more difficult than taking care of the baby.
Around two weeks after the birth, the symptoms started to fade. She got better over a period of 3-4 days. Around 17 days after the birth she was pretty much herself again. She was able to help out with the baby, she became social, and she started eating regularly again.
What can you do if your wife gets the baby blues?
Unfortunately, not a whole lot. It just needs to run its course in most cases. All you can really do it help your wife cope. Dealing with this was the most challenging part of having a baby for me.
- Be there for her – do anything she asks and offer gentle encouragement. Don’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do.
- Make her meals – make sure she is eating.
- Encourage her to spend time with the baby – skin to skin was the only thing that helped lift her mood, even if it was just for a short time.
Stay strong, Dad. She’ll get better soon, then you can both enjoy your time together with the baby.
NOTE: If symptoms last longer than 2-3 weeks OR your wife has thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. These are signs of postpartum depression, which is much more serious!