Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife/Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert


The Emotional Rollercoaster of Being a New Mother

Reviewed by

Uwe Porters - Mid-wife/Pregnancy & Postpartum Expert

Caring for a newborn is hard work. Adjusting to your new role as a mother can be challenging especially alongside the chaos a new baby brings to your life. The uncertainty, sleep disruption and constant focus on your baby's needs can be exhausting.

Regardless of how prepared you were or how much you looked forward to becoming a mother, the range of emotions you may feel can be enormous and can start from the moment you find out you’re expecting. While there are indeed wonderful highs and moments of pure joy, the first few weeks and months will also include some lows - which for many women comes as a big surprise.

We’re here to tell you that these emotions are very normal and even the most negative emotions will pass with time. But it’s also important to check in with yourself. Be honest and acknowledge how you’re feeling so you can recognize the red flags when things are no longer normal.

Our team at Guud includes several mothers, so in this post, we want to draw on our collective experience to help you prepare for the emotional rollercoaster that is becoming a mother.

Before You Have a Baby: Matrescence

Matrescence is the mental process of becoming a mother, and it usually begins as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Sometimes it even starts before you're even pregnant.

For many people, this is a happy moment, but it can be marked with a huge range of emotions too, including anxiety and fear. You may also start to feel overwhelmed, uncertain, frustrated or anxious.

Being pregnant is a bit like going through puberty again. It’s a time where your hormones are fluctuating wildly, and your relationship with your body is changing. Your hair and skin are doing weird things, your sleep might be disturbed and you might be feeling completely out of touch with your own body. Everyone understands that adolescence is an awkward time, but during matrescence, people expect you to be joyful, glowing and happy, all while losing control over the way you look and feel. This is hard! Becoming a mother is a huge, complicated life transition that can rock every fiber of your being. It's important to acknowledge and validate these feelings, knowing that you're not alone in experiencing them.

After Your Baby is Born

You may have had a rush of feelings just after your baby was born that included joy, relief and amazement. You might also feel exhausted, emotionally drained or if you’ve had a c-section or any complications during pregnancy or birth, you might be in pain and unable to focus on anything other than your physical recovery. This is all completely normal. You have just been through a big and life changing event.

Some women do fall in love with their babies instantly, but it’s important to remember that others do not. That deep, magical bond between mother and baby could take time to develop. That’s OK! There can sometimes feel like there is a lot of pressure for your love for your baby to be instantly overwhelming, and if it’s not, you might feel guilty, or like something is wrong with you. Remember, all mothers are different. There is no right or wrong way to fall in love with your baby. The last thing you need is to feel guilty about how you bond with your baby.

That feeling of love also happens on a chemical level. Research shows that oxytocin, aka the love hormone, plays a role in labour, delivery and breastfeeding and some women may have lower levels of oxytocin. This can impact your bond with your baby. One proven way to increase oxytocin and your bond with your baby is through skin-to-skin contact. So make sure you spend lots of time with your baby, naked if possible, laying on your bare chest.

The Baby Blues

During pregnancy, a variety of hormones increase dramatically, peak during childbirth, and then crash back down to pre-pregnancy levels immediately after birth.

Since these hormones are linked directly to your emotions, someone who has just given birth typically experiences an emotional crash. This is sometimes called the “baby blues,” but we don’t think this properly describes the experience and its severity, and doesn’t really set expectations for what is typical and normal.

While doctors and midwives are getting better at providing pregnant women with information about the baby blues, many women are unaware and completely unprepared for this emotional crash. It can come as a big surprise and without the information to know what’s happening, many women worry something is wrong with them, especially when so many portrayals of early motherhood are focused exclusively on moments of pure bliss and happiness.

How Common Are The Baby Blues?

The experience of the so-called baby blues is very common. In fact, most people (about 80%) experience some degree of emotional disruption after childbirth — ranging from mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, or difficulty sleeping. While these feelings typically reduce over time, it's crucial to prioritize self-care and seek help if needed. Surround yourself with a support network of loved ones who can assist with everyday tasks and provide emotional support. Taking time for yourself, whether it's a short walk outside or a moment of quiet reflection, can make a world of difference.

How Long Do The Baby Blues Last?

There’s no set timetable for postpartum emotions. Everyone is different and the rate at which it takes to regulate and normalize your hormones will vary from woman to woman. However, in general, the baby blues usually begin within the first 2-3 days after delivery and may last for up to two weeks.

If your symptoms do not go away or begin to get worse over time, you should contact your healthcare provider as it could indicate a more serious condition like postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a medical condition that happens during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth. In fact, it is the most common complication for women who have just had a baby and it affects up to 1 in 7 women (about 15%).

What Can You Do About the Baby Blues?

For most women the baby blues go away on their own, as your hormones naturally stablize. This is a natural process that happens without any specific treatment. However, there are some things you can do to help you feel better:

  • While it may be difficult, try to get as much sleep as you can. Ask your partner, friends or family for help so you can take a nap. Most people are very happy to step in and help for a few hours.
  • Speaking of help, lean on people close to you. Tell them exactly what you need or what they can do for you, like shopping, cleaning or watching the baby so you can shower or nap
  • Having a newborn can feel all consuming, but it's important to take time for yourself too. Ask someone to watch the baby so you can go out for a solo walk, grab a coffee and get some sunshine and fresh air.
  • Try to connect with new parents at baby groups. It can be helpful to talk to people who are going through the same things as you
  • While it may be tempting to wind down with a glass of wine, try to avoid alcohol as much as possible. Alcohol can impact your mood and actually make symptoms worse.
  • Nourish your body with healthy, whole food and get exercise when you can. We’re not talking about a high intensity workout or a run - just move your body by walking, stretching or even some gentle yoga.
  • Add a supplement to your diet to help ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

When Should You Call Your Healthcare Provider?

When symptoms do not ease on their own, or they get worse over time, it’s important to acknowledge them and talk to someone. Do not feel guilty or like there is something wrong with you. If your symptoms are making it hard for you to take care of your baby or do everyday tasks, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

You're Not Alone on this Journey

At Guud, we are here with you on your journey through motherhood. Whether you're expecting your first child or navigating the challenges of caring for a newborn, know that you're not alone. Embrace the highs and lows, and remember that every emotion you feel is valid. Together, we can navigate this beautiful, chaotic, and profoundly rewarding journey called motherhood.