Having a baby can be a beautiful, exciting, and joyous experience. It can also be stressful, emotionally exhausting, financially straining, and scary. I often get asked by clients, “I just had a baby, why do I feel so sad? I should be happy!” To that I say: it can and often is both a happy and sad time.
Our society plays into the idea that women are always happy after having a baby, and I’m here to tell you that becoming a parent is not all rainbows and sunshine. It has those moments throughout, absolutely, and it’s also overwhelming and scary at other times. For this reason, amongst others, sadness can occur after having a baby.
Let’s take a step back and think about life before a baby for a minute. I would venture to guess your life looked a bit differently. Whether this is your first child, or your tenth child, things change when a baby is brought into the world. Your sleep habits are disrupted. Your socialization outside of your home is initially less. Your responsibility load has increased. Your time to spend engaging in your own hobbies or having free time can decrease. The list goes on.
Without a baby in the equation, all of the above things can have a feeling of sadness that comes along with each of those changes. Yet, we often do not criticize ourselves as much in those changes of life, as we do when we become parents. Perhaps that is the societal pressure and negative self-talk at work, or maybe our support system telling us we should be happier.
Most women experience at minimum a brief period of what we call “baby blues”. This typically looks like uncontrollable tearfulness or crying, and lasts for several weeks. It is often influenced by any of the above changes, as well as drastic hormonal shifts after delivery, complicated birthing experiences, or not being able to follow a desired birth plan. Longer lasting symptoms more acute in severity or more challenging to cope with, could be signs of postpartum anxiety and depression, which are other common mood changes after having a baby.
If you’ve recently had a baby and are feeling sad, know you’re not alone and it’s okay. Support is waiting when you need it.