Psychological Aspects of the Postpartum Period
The postpartum period is defined as the stage which begins when the placenta is removed. It lasts until the uterus and the rest of the reproductive system recovers after childbirth, or until the woman starts to menstruate again.
The postpartum period is often spoken about in physical and physiological terms. However, we shouldn’t forget that the psychological aspects are also of critical importance.
The postpartum period is a process of physiological and psychological adaptation.
The woman who has just given birth must get used to a new phase in her life. While she’s no longer pregnant, she’s also no longer the same woman she was before.
There are a lot of psychological aspects surrounding this stage, which are sometimes overlooked or unfamiliar. Some refer to the psychological postpartum as its own phase.
Thus, the psychological postpartum is the entire psycho-emotional process that every mother must go through in order to rediscover herself, grow, and become emotionally attuned to her baby.
What Are We Adapting To?
Having a baby changes a woman‘s life, routine, and of course, her body. Her body drastically changes and this is reflected by a sea of raging hormones which cause an excess of emotional sensitivity.
This can manifest as mood swings or intense expression of anger, sadness, happiness, etc.
These psychological aspects of the postpartum period, rather than being a problem, are a necessity.
During this period, all of your senses will be heightened in order for you to get to know your baby and his emotions, so as to better meet his needs.
There is no other time in your life in which a being will depend on you this much, than your child’s first year of life. This can be truly exhausting, especially with an aching body from childbirth.
A baby has several needs that must be met 24 hours a day. This often means you’ll have to set aside your own needs, especially eating and sleeping.
Getting in sync with your baby and getting to know him well will take time.
Learning to decipher his cries and knowing when to feed him or how to put him to sleep will be challenges you’ll have to face. It’s a bonding process that requires time and concentration from you both.
At the same time, life goes on and domestic chores still have to be done. Visitors will arrive, and you might have to care for older children or return to work.
That’s why it’s understandable that most women experience feelings of sadness like the baby blues or feel psychologically overwhelmed.
Every woman’s social and family situation is different, and every woman has different emotional skills to deal with them.
Thus, the psychological postpartum (or the psychological aspects of the postpartum period) doesn’t have a set duration.
Generally, however, this adaptation process can last from one to two years.
How to Deal with the Psychological Aspects of the Postpartum Period
Compassion and support from your partner and family are essential for restoring your balance and emerging triumphant from this stage.
We also want to give you some recommendations to help you through this process:
- Educate and prepare yourself for childbirth; this doesn’t just mean buying baby clothes and nursery furniture. It’s important for you to imagine your new routine and anticipate everyday situations (like thinking about who is going to cook, who will take care of the older children for the first few days after childbirth, learning about the breastfeeding process, or the most common problems with newborns).
- Accept any help offered to you by friends and family. The postpartum period is no time to try and prove to yourself or anybody else that you can do it all. Having a support system is very important and it can make a huge difference in dealing with the postpartum.
- Apply the golden rule of the postpartum period: “While baby sleeps, Mom sleeps.” Take advantage of any opportunity you have to rest; your partner can also contribute to the domestic chores and manage visitors so you don’t miss out on these valuable moments.
- Vent and express your emotions. Talk to your partner to help him understand you, or get in touch with people who are going through the same thing to share your experience.
- Get professional help if you need it. While all women experience emotional changes, in some cases it’s essential to seek professional support in time to avoid landing in a deeper problem like postpartum depression.
Generally, this adaptation process can last from one to two years.
The entire process of transformation puts our emotional skills to the test, since it essentially involves becoming a different person.
Remember that being a mother is the greatest opportunity for personal growth, maturity, and renewal.
With rest, emotional support, and information, you can succeed.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Jadresic M., E. (2010). Depresión en el embarazo y el puerperio. Revista Chilena de Neuro-Psiquiatria. https://doi.org/10.4067/S0717-92272010000500003
- Morales, D. M., Rodríguez, M. Á. B., Monge, F. J. C., Abellán, M. I. C., Moure, M. A., & Puente, C. P. (2008). Influencia de los factores psicológicos en el embarazo, parto y puerperio. Un estudio longitudinal. Nure investigación, 5. http://www.nure.org/OJS/index.php/nure/article/view/422