The Reasons Behind a New Mom's Tears
Do you ever wonder how moms do it all? They juggle work, children, activities, cooking, household chores and still manage to have a social life – truly amazing! What you might not know is that one in four moms cry at least once a week, and new moms are no exception. A recent study by care.com shows that 80 percent of moms stress about getting everything done, and 79 percent feel they are falling behind.
These statistics may come as a shock to you if you are expecting your first baby, but it’s important to know these are normal emotions. Motherhood is difficult and having unrealistic expectations can make it even more challenging.
Becoming a new mom can be completely overwhelming. In addition to the physical and emotional changes you are going through, the desire to be the best mom and do everything “right” is a lot of pressure! Your partner goes back to work and your family and friends who helped you for the first few days after you brought your baby home resume their normal routines. You are left to care for this tiny life on your own for the majority of the day. There is no shame in feeling overwhelmed and shedding a few tears; it is very normal.
After you have a baby, and you begin to breastfeed, your hormone levels change significantly. If you find yourself crying in the days following the birth of your baby, you are not alone. Eighty percent of new moms experience baby blues or some other negative feelings after giving birth. Baby blues are the mood swings you may experience after the birth of your baby that can result in unexplained crying and feelings of sadness, anxiety or irritability. Drops in estrogen, progesterone, and hormones produced by the thyroid gland can trigger these symptoms, but luckily, they don’t last forever. Baby blues last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks – it does get better!
Newborns sleep for about 16 hours per day, but they typically only sleep for 2 to 4 hours at a time. While you may be used to getting 6 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, after you become a mom, this will change. As a new mom, you are exhausted and extremely fatigued – that in and of itself can cause tears at any point in time. While it may seem like the sleepless nights will never end, after about three months, your baby starts to develop sleeping routines and will sleep for longer periods of time.
New moms have a lot of expectations. The media idealizes and obsesses over celebrity mothers. This results in unrealistic expectations for new moms, like instinctively knowing how to care for your baby, flawlessly balancing your work and home life and miraculously losing all of your baby weight in less than three months. While the media makes motherhood look glamorous, this may not be your experience right away. Every mother is different, and every mother has a different support system. Don’t be rattled if the reality of being a new mom is not quite what you had hoped, you will get there.
Postpartum depression starts off as baby blues but continues to last for longer than two weeks. It can strike immediately after the birth of your baby, or many months later, often causing frequent crying, severe mood swings and loss of appetite. Most importantly, postpartum depression interferes with your ability to care for yourself or your baby. There are several causes of this disorder, but it is important to know it is not your fault. Postpartum depression is a serious medical disorder that requires professional help. While you may feel embarrassed, it is important to talk to a doctor immediately to create a treatment plan.
Having a new baby is an exciting and joyful time, but there can be some unexpected emotion that comes along. Tears are normal for all moms. Remember to ask for help, get enough sleep and seek medical help if necessary. For your pregnancy and newborn care questions, contact the Maternity Center at UnityPoint Health - Methodist.