Labor and delivery are fairly traumatic events where your body is concerned. Sure, it’s normal and natural, and women have been giving birth since the beginning. For the vast majority of human history, however, childbirth was one of the experiences that posed some serious risks. Something as simple as a breech baby – which medical technology can easily deal with today – almost always meant some serious problems in the past.
It’s not just the physical stuff that can get messy after delivery, however. Emotionally, things can go all topsy-turvy. Understanding a little bit about what you can expect may help you to do what you need to in order to cope, when the time comes.
Your hormone levels change dramatically after delivery. The only time in your life they’re going to change this dramatically is when you first become pregnant. Naturally, you can expect some mood swings. This is completely normal, and both you and your partner should be prepared for the likelihood that your mood will be in flux.
The baby blues
As many as four out of five moms will experience agitation, irritability, anxiety, or sadness in the days and weeks that come after delivery. This is very common. It has to do with those same hormonal changes, as well as things like exhaustion and the transition into your new role as a mom. The baby blues tend to be relatively short-lived and should pass within a couple of months.
Postpartum depression. About one in ten women will experience postpartum depression. This is more than just a little bit of sadness. It tends to be persistent. It may be accompanied by guilt, anxiety, and more. Postpartum depression can occur several months after birth. If it’s not treated, it can cause some serious problems. If you think you’re experiencing postpartum depression, talk to your doctor, mental health professional, or counselor right away.
These changes are common, and they’re understandable. Not every women experiences them, but most do. Make sure you talk with your partner about them ahead of time, and set up a strong support system now, while you’re pregnant, so that you’re ready for when you face these difficulties.