Why We Need to Re-Brand 'Baby Blues' to Post Baby Hormones...
As someone who went through the horror of post-natal depression, I firmly believe the term ‘baby blues’ is an outdated, patronising phrase that needs to be thrown in the bin and the bin set on fire.
It infers the absolute hormonal rollercoaster that is pregnancy, labour and the days after giving birth are mothers just feeling a bit blue, or something to hit them out of the blue. Instead it should be recognised as a completely overwhelming hormonal phenomenon that happens to every mum who has ever given birth and will continue to happen to every mother who will give birth.
You’re not some unlucky hormonal flake if it happens to you! You are in fact, a normal person.
I mean think about what your body has gone through in the last nine and something months. You’ve grown a human from scratch. You’ve had to move internal organs to make room for said little life. You’ve nourished them, kept them safe and watched your body transform in front of your eyes. None of that happens without our friends hormones. Yes those fun entities that wreck such havoc in our lives every month.
Then you’ve got the labour. I can’t imagine how many hormones go apeshit during that process. But I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s buzzing in there on a biblical level. So it’s safe to assume that you’re going to feel one hell of a rollercoaster as your body readapts after labour.
Never, ever forget it took nine months to grow and birth your baby, your body needs time to heal and readjust and that doesn’t just mean on the physical side.
I remember on my first baby fearing the term baby blues. I thought it was some scary thing that may happen to me that would mean I was doing something wrong or didn’t love my baby. I wholeheartedly believe a reframing of the term is needed.
It needs to shift from something that may happen, to an accepted part of the post pregnancy period.
The scary and patronising way it's communicated - ‘you may feel a bit teary for no reason,’ needs to be changed. Women need to think of it along the lines of PMS. When our hormones make us feel like Genghis Khan for a few days around our period. It’s not a scary thing (well unless you’re on the receiving end of it!) It’s completely out of your control and no amount of camomile tea is going to stop your husband irritating you on those few days.
But it passes.
Why not call the period after your give birth as post baby hormones. Because that’s what it is. That’s what’s going to make you feel all over the place. The hormones. Not some airy fairy 'baby blues'. It’s nothing to do with your baby, it’s the bloody hormones!
There’s a huge difference between post-natal depression and ‘baby blues,’ and the framing of the latter in the same sphere as the former is completely unhelpful. Yes if you feel like your hormones aren’t settling then chat to your GP. But the difference between the two are huge.
By re branding it post baby hormones, you effectively separate the two out.
Post-natal depression is not something all mums will go through thankfully. But post baby hormones is something all mums will experience. And we need to normalise it. We need to say, it’s perfectly fine to have a good massive cry in the days after your baby is born, your hormones are all over the place, its completely normal it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby or that anything is wrong. Don’t fear it. Embrace it. Know that it’s as normal as PMS. It will pass as your body settles. Give yourself time.
Of course if it does not pass, if you don't feel like yourself, then talk to your other half, your mum, friends, your GP. Don’t dismiss it. Listen to your body and your feelings. The more we talk about all of these issues the more we normalise it and help the next batch of new mums.
I remember on my second pregnancy, I was terrified of going through post-natal depression again. For the entire pregnancy, I wondered if I was either fundamentally stupid or brave for having a second child considering how bleak things had been during the bad days of PND.
Thankfully I didn’t go through it a second time. In fact, the experience was the polar opposite of the first.
However, I do remember on day three, crying in the shower uncontrollably and feeling terrified that it was all happening again.
I was discharged on day three, a day which can be the start of the so called ‘baby blues.’ We left the hospital and I was feeling well. Nothing like I had done the first time around. Yes I was sore, tired and had a vag full of stiches again, but I felt like myself. I was happy.
We called into my parents’ house on the way home with Luke, to collect the little dude who had stayed with them for the few days I was in hospital. I remember asking my mum if I could go up and have a shower in her bathroom because the shower in hospital hadn’t been great and she had a mega power shower and I just wanted to feel nice and clean. She said of course and up I went.
I stepped into the shower, the hot water blissfully hitting my body and washing the hospital off me, when I started roaring crying, completely out of nowhere. I couldn’t stop. It was completely uncontrollable. I was terrified. I didn’t know where it had come from.
‘I was happy wasn’t I? It wasn’t like the last time! God was it all happening again?’ I thought.
Then it stopped as quickly as it started. And I felt fine again.
It was the strangest feeling, but I knew acutely it was nothing more than my hormones going bonkers. And why wouldn’t they? It was nothing to fear and yet when it happened I was terrified.
Post baby hormones are real and we need to talk about them in a real, non-patronising way so that new mums are equipped to deal with them when they come.