Roller Coaster Ride

The Ups and Downs of Baby’s First Year

Having a baby is one of the most emotional times you will ever experience. Throughout your pregnancy and in the coming months you will likely continue to feel a range of emotions.

Hormonal Changes

Your hormones have been preparing your body for this event for nine months. After Baby is born, these hormones, such as estrogen, fall, and different hormones, such as prolactin, which signals milk production, begin. This is the time most new mothers feel the “baby blues.” The typical symptoms are irritability, crying for no or little reason, exhaustion and stress.

If your emotions trouble you for more than six to eight weeks, consult your doctor to make sure you don’t have a medical problem, such as a thyroid or hormone imbalance. Another possibility is postpartum depression, which affects up to 15 percent of new mothers. Those at risk often have a family or personal history of depression, are perfectionists or have little confidence in themselves as parents. Each of these conditions is treatable, so ask your doctor.

Adequate Rest and Relaxation

During the first few weeks, try to rest or sleep when Baby sleeps. If resting is impossible, try to relax or do something you enjoy. This could be as simple as creating a meal for your family or having a cup of coffee. Your baby might have a bad night, and if Baby does not sleep, neither will you. Having adequate sleep helps you cope with the stresses of caring for a newborn.

Anger and Frustration

You may feel frustrated at not being able to control Baby’s crying or not sleeping, and it may lead to anger with yourself or your baby. This is a normal reaction, especially if you are used to having control over your life. All babies are unique and seldom “go by the book.” You are both learning about each other. Do not get angry with your baby or yourself; it will only make things worse. Your baby will feel your mood change and not understand, resulting in him or her being frightened and more distressed. You may feel guilty and depressed.

If possible, hand your baby to a trusted friend or relative for a while. This may soothe Baby and give you a chance to ease your frustration and anger. If this is not possible, try to take Baby out for a short walk in the fresh air. If the weather is unsuitable, go into a different room, play some soothing music or try to distract Baby. 

Ups and Downs

Sometimes you may feel your heart will burst with happiness and other times you may wonder if life will ever improve. Enjoy the happy times and try to re-create these emotions when you are feeling down. You could try talking it over with another mother; other women or men may not understand what you are going through.

Try recording your thoughts and feelings in a diary or journal. Often, just the act of writing these feelings down will help you deal with your emotions. Write whatever you are feeling. Tear it into little pieces afterwards if you like.

Slow, deep breathing should also calm you and help you deal with your emotions.

Accept Help

If offered, accept help, even if it is from your mother or mother-in-law. See your doctor if you feel you should. Try to look after yourself, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. You will be more self-confident in dealing with your emotions and better equipped to meet the joys and challenges of Baby’s first year.