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Baby Blues

woman jumping off cliff

After delivery your  hormone levels plunge  from that of 1000 ovulating women (at the end of pregnancy) to near-menopausal levels.

 

Before you deliver your brain is awash in a sea of progesterone and estrogen. Your endorphin levels (the body’s “happy molecules”) are high because estrogen and progesterone increase your endorphin levels.  Progesterone and its precursor molecules are  anxiolytic – they act like valium to calm the nerves and contribute to a sensation of “mellowness”.

Now this: After the baby and placenta come out of your body, your estrogen and progesterone levels plummet. Your milk hormone, prolactin increases dramatically in the first few days. Prolactin eventually suppresses your estrogen and progesterone levels to those of a menopausal woman. Luckily, prolactin and breastfeeding also stimulate the innate endorphins; otherwise, all post-partum women could be deeply depressed.

 

window to ocean There’s a two week window in the post-partum period, between delivery of the baby and onset of consistently high prolactin levels, when you’re likely to experience maximum “baby blues”. Baby blues are like the worst case of PMS you’ve ever had: You’re on an emotional roller coaster because your endorphin levels are all over the place. The onset of baby blues often corresponds to the baby’s first Night of Inconsolable Crying or to breastfeeding difficulties.

Remember this: baby blues are

slickrock transitional and you can ride them out. They respond to a change in scenery, sleep, and some help from your spouse. If you’re in a deep well of crying go for a thirty minute brisk walk. The physical activity and fresh air will instantly brighten your mood. Don’t over-extend. Lots of company in the first week post-partum can be stressful. Too many visitors? Just Say No (thank you).

  • Did you experience baby blues? What were they like for you?
  • Do you have a memorable moment of baby blues?
  • How did you handle the baby blues?

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Annie @ PhD in Parenting May 11, 2009, 8:30 am

    In your tweet about this post you said “Is it baby blues or postpartum depression? “. I’m not sure that I see a good description in your post that would help women to decipher between the two. Unfortunately, I think too many women with PPD do not get any help. Can you add something more to help them distinguish between something that they can “ride out” and something that they should seek help with?

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