Have you got the postpartum blues?

The amount of family adjustment required during the year following birth is greatly underestimated. Motherhood may come easily to you, yet changes are inevitable and must be accommodated. Hormonal fluctuations can increase emotional sensitivity, but the feelings that arise are real responses to real changes -- both physical and emotional.

Postpartum blues are common during the three months after childbirth. Mild sadness may well up as your body recovers from pregnancy and delivery and you adjust to the life changes that having a baby can bring. Isolation is the main cause of acute depression. Support groups for new parents can help you make contacts for babysitting and answer some of your needs for companionship. More important, a new-parents support group can banish the misunderstanding that motherhood is instinctual. It is not. Mothering is very much a learned experience. Much of what we know about it is learned unconsciously, relayed to us during childhood by those who cared for us.

The Myth of the Mothering Instinct

If we were held and cuddled in a loving and reassuring manner as infants, we automatically know how to do that with our own babies. Our bodies hold the knowledge, so we experience it as instinct. If you did not receive confident mothering in the arms of your own mother, you may find yourself unsure.

If this happens, you can establish a network of other mothers from whom you can learn now. Learning from others with a variety of childhood experience will help you understand your own needs. This is a prime time to find a healthy balance between your needs and your baby's needs.

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