Many women experience a range of emotions after childbirth. 80% of women experience some form of baby blues after childbirth. Then, there’s the physical recovery, the hormonal shifts, and the new demands of caring for a newborn. It’s no wonder a mom might feel a range of emotions in the days and weeks after childbirth. 

Alexandra Simonton, is the Director of Community Health at Indiana University Health. There she oversees Infant & Maternal Health and Hypertension. When it comes to a new mom’s feelings postpartum, Simonton explained that “every mother’s experience is unique.”

It is critical to know that baby blues and feelings of disconnect from your baby do not reflect a mother’s love, her ability to be a good parent, or her future relationship with her child, Simonton said. Here’s a look at the cocktail of emotions that can come immediately after childbirth and how to effectively navigate those emotions. 

Postpartum Emotions Are a Rollercoaster

Having a baby looks and feels different for everyone. Regardless, having a baby is hard work! 

Erica Wilkerson is the owner of Your Black Breastie. She explains that the first two “tearful” weeks of emotions postpartum are referred to as “baby blues.” 

“It is absolutely normal, and it is even expected,” she explained. 

In the first two weeks, as a new mom adjusts to a new routine, it’s quite common to have a rollercoaster of emotions that might include feelings of unease, worry, sadness, exhaustion, disappointment, and overwhelm. If these feelings increase or persist beyond two weeks, it is important to speak with your medical provider and/or care team.

It is also common for a new mom to wrestle with not feel connected to her baby, which can be overwhelming and even frightening.  

Baby Blues & Your Connection With Baby

The “baby blues” are characterized by mood swings, sadness or crying, and fatigue that can occur in the first few weeks after childbirth. These feelings can make it difficult for a mother to engage in bonding activities with the baby like cuddling, playing, or breastfeeding, Simonton says. This might lead to feelings of detachment. 

To build a stronger emotional connection and promote bonding, Simonton encouraged moms to prioritize skin-to-skin contact while rocking, bathing, and feeding the baby. 

“Make eye-contact, talk, or sing,” she said. “Even though the baby doesn’t understand words, the sound of their mother’s voice can be soothing and foster a sense of familiarity.”

If feelings of sadness persist or worsen, it may be necessary to seek professional help to rule out postpartum depression.

How to Navigate Postpartum Emotions

Simonton explained that there are many ways to navigate these emotions, starting with acknowledgement and acceptance. 

“Understand that these feelings are normal and temporary,” she said. “Also, seek support to alleviate feelings of isolation.” 

Talking to a partner, family member, or friend, or seeking professional help can provide relief and perspective. There are also support groups with other new mothers who might be experiencing similar feelings. This can be reassuring and provide a sense of community. 

It’s also important to prioritize self-care, Simonton says. Resting and setting reminders that you are doing your best and that it’s okay to have these feelings can foster self-compassion. 

“This can improve your overall well-being and make it easier to cope with the complex, postpartum emotions,” she added.

Advice for New Moms

Simonton advises new moms who are struggling take care of their own physical and emotional well-being. A well-rested and healthy mother is better equipped to bond with her baby. As you navigate the newness of motherhood, enjoy the everyday experiences and moments with your baby.

“Give yourself grace and time to process your emotions without guilt,” she said. “Remember that what you are feeling is completely normal and that you are not alone.”