I am one of many mothers (some articles in google mentioned about 70% – 80% of new mothers in the world) who have experienced this syndrome.
I used to think that baby blues is a syndrome that makes your baby’s skin turns blue like an Avatar. Well, it is not.
Based on American Pregnancy, a mother who suffers from baby blues syndrome is confused about struggling with sadness after the joyous event of adding a new baby. The exact cause of the “baby blues” is unknown at this time. It is thought to be related to the hormone changes that occur during pregnancy and again after a baby is born. These hormonal changes may produce chemical changes in the brain that result in depression.
Days after giving birth, I was not in a stable mood. I was not that happy, I mean I was happy but most of the time I frowned, it was like my heart was burdened with my own expectation that I should be a good mother. I barely smiled or even laughed, was full of sadness aura, got headache, easily cried, was anxious and sometimes imagined bad things would happen to my baby. Those were happened for about two weeks.
It was caused by some reasons such as restlessness, insomnia (Qai was awake three to four times during the night), confusion (new mom got many advices from experienced moms) and my husband (he went back to Jakarta after a week supporting me).
So after delivery, it was uncomfortable to have stitches on my vital area. The doctor put a tampon and I wore maternity pad. A bit hard for me to open my pants so I should open it very slowly. I did not want to damage the stitches. Imagine if I was dying for a pee!
Back when I was in a birthing room, my baby should have laid on my chest and had an early initiation if I let the doctor get me smoothly stitched (*without any rebelion). However, how could my baby had an early initiation if I had no breast milk?
During pregnancy, I cleaned and peeled my nipples out from dead skin two until three times a week. I also massaged my breasts with warm water without squeezing my milk duct because it would stimulate contraction. Nevertheless, I did not have any breast milk coming out from my nipples until the baby was born.
On the day after delivery, I tried to get my breast milk out by massaging my breasts and squeezing my milk ducts. Nothing came out. Qai was hungry and I tried to breastfeed her. Unfortunately, she did not get what she wanted then she cried. I was terribly sorry and I felt guilty that I could not give her milk. As a mother, I was deeply sad that I cried. I thought that I was not a good mother. I just wanted to give her exclusive breastfeeding right after my baby was born. That day I struggled to get the milk out of my breast. I did not give her infant formula but my mom insisted me. My MIL and my husband did not agree on that, we wanted to give her the best, exclusive breastfeeding. My mom argued that the baby was starving, Qai’s stomach was rumbling. Knowing that the baby still had enough reserves of nutrients from placenta for 2 days, actually infant formula was not needed. Mom insisted, I was sad seeing Qai cried. In the end, Qai drank the formula. I was in dilemma. I strived to massage and squeeze my breast and when Qai was hungry again, I tried to breastfeed her. No way I kept giving her formula. Big NO NO. Breasts had to be ready to serve!
Sun went down, stars came out. My mom and dad went home, so there we were, my husband, Qai and I in hospital. Still tried to breastfeed, yet breast milk was not coming. My husband was someone who supported exclusive breastfeeding no matter what. I was on his side, but Qai did not stop crying because she was hungry. In the midnight, we agreed to give her baby formula. We were sorry Qai.
Next day, the same result. Exclusive breastfeeding was an effort, but infant formula won. I insisted to breastfeed Qai but mom told a nurse to make a bottle of formula. She did not understand because when she was pregnant, her milk had already been out from her breast. How could I produce milk, it was a supply demand basis, I should let Qai breastfed. Knowing my struggle, a nurse told me to buy a nipple shield. What?! My breast did not even have milk. How could you suggest that?! But nothing to lose, my husband bought me nipple shield. It turned out nipple shield was in vain. My mom was vocal and rushed me to give Qai infant formula, my husband strongly urged me to keep trying on my breastfeed and told me to use nipple shield. So I was the only suspect and they were worth blaming me. I was confused, Qai was crying, my mom told me this, my husband told me that, then I slammed the nipple shield down and cried. I was upset, tired, ugly, fat, my vagina had just been stitched, my breasts were sore, and you guys made it worse. I was really upset to my condition.
My husband then calmed me down, he hugged me and he said he was sorry. He told me nice words and so forth and he did make me calm and quite. We both then told a nurse to make a bottle of formula for Qai. She stopped crying and then she went to sleep. The night was coming, my husband and I took turns to rock Qai if she was awake. My effort was non stop to breastfeed Qai, but still no milk came out. Everytime Qai was awake, she cried. She was awake four to five times that night. She was absolutey hungry. At 3.30 a.m, I gave up and I wanted a bottle of formula. My husband did not allow me to. We argued and I gave Qai formula. He said, “Ok, it’s up to you” then he went to sleep. He was disappointed with me. I was sorry for both of you. After drinking milk, Qai went to bed and so did I. What a day.
I stayed in the hospital for 4 days 3 nights. I was able to breastfeed on day three but only with my left breast and the volume was still low. It started to produce more and more milk, driven by baby’s demand, I believed my milk supply would enormously increased. The right one had not produced any milk, yet. Thus, my baby was fed on one side of my breast that made me had nipple chafing. However, I would give her my right breast first if she began to be hungry to stimulate milk. Finally, my right breastmilk started to come out in the afternoon. Thank God! Therefore, I should not worry about my lactation anymore. Things would be fine as long as my baby could be nursed. However, I did not know why, my heart was still burdened by something heavy that I seldom smiled and talked.
Day 4, it was time to go home. Mas and I packed clothes and stuff. Then we left the hospital at 3 p.m. We thanked the doctor and all staff that helped me through labor, delivery and recovery. We were home and Qai finally could sleep in her new nest. My feeling was getting better though I was still feeling tired and uncomfortable due to stitches but at least I could feel more free to do anything since I had been already at home.
Going through sleepless night was my new routine til my eyes bags were like shopping bags. Either Qai was awake or; peed and pooped. Mas and I also took turns to get Qai calmed. I also began to master changing wet and dirty diapers, swaddling, and nursing with side lying position (Qai spent almost an hour when she was under the age of 3 months, so side lying was the best position. Using cradle hold position for almost an hour would cause hips pain, plus my stitches were sore). My new routine was also pumping my breasts. I got only less than 20 ml for half an hour pumping that day and that was very low. But I kept pumping to make my milk increasing faster.
After 7 days of delivery, we as moeslem should hold an “Aqiqah” for the newborn baby. In the day when we held an “Aqiqah” for Qai, all Qai’s hair was shaved. I thought it would be easy seeing my baby was shaved. But for me, it was a total torture. At first, I helped the nanny, who shaved Qai’s hair, to collect hairs on a jar. Then Qai cried loudly. I could not stand it. I wanted to cry seeing Qai was crying. So I stopped collecting hairs and entered bedroom and I could not hold my tears. I cried as long as Qai cried. My heart broke. Once again, baby blues took part.
Next day, it was the last night Mas stayed in Klaten. The one who really cared for me, spoiled me, understood my wants during this hard time would leave me and went back to Jakarta. I just could not accept it. That night suddenly I got headache and fever. I thought I was just hungry. I felt my stitches were burning my vagina. I could feel the thread would cut my vagina because it was sharp like a kite’s thread. Again, I cried. But to be frank, I was sad knowing Mas would leave me. He came to me and asked why. I told him and he hugged me. It was relieving but would be better if he could have stayed for one more week (I wished). After I ate some food, was hugged by Mas, I felt better. The next day, I spend my night without him.
During recovery in the hospital, the doctor told me that on next Monday (a week after I left the hospital) I should visit her for a check-up. She would check my stitches and would make sure that everything was gonna be okay regarding my healing process. Then I visited her, she checked my stitches. She found there was a stitch that had not been absorbed to my skin. Oh, I knew that! That’s why I felt the thread cut my skin and I felt it swollen. That was the reason why I felt bruise for a week. Then she gave me an ointment “Bioplacenton” to heal the bruise. Next week, I visited her again and she told me that the stitches all were okay. Nothing to worry about anymore. And that was my last meeting with the doctor who have helped me pushing Qai out. Thanks doc!
My sadness and burdened feeling was gone after two weeks from delivery. Maybe because I did not feel any sore or bruise due to stitches so I could seat more comfortable. Eventhough, the healing process took about 3 weeks. So apparently that was probably the main reason why I had mental breakdown, huh? 😅
Well, that was my experienced of having baby blues syndrome. Hopefully, you new mothers will not experience the same thing because it was indeed frustrating. However, if new mothers have baby blues syndrome, please talk to your family. Make sure that they understand the syndrome and your feelings. Communication is your key to prevent your sadness gone worse. Also, my best cure so far if I am sad is a hug, a shoulder to cry on. Let your tears fall down. Release your pain through somebody who hugs you. After that, see your baby’s little face. A miracle will come to you. And have a faith that you can pass that phase. You are strong, mother! 💋