There is nothing that gets another person’s attention quite like a newborn's cry. And for new mothers? That cry is gut-wrenching. That cry sets off a cascade of triggers that compel you to drop everything and tend to your child. That cry made me cry. (File under: Things no one tells you.)
I cried for other reasons, too. Actually, I was totally unprepared for the fact that I would be crying almost constantly in the first few months with my newborn.
Here are seven reasons why moms cry in the first few weeks after giving birth:
1. Because we are so freaking happy
The first time I looked into my son's eyes, I burst into tears. The first time I felt my son's skin on mine, I wanted to burst into tears. The first time I saw my son’s dad hold him, I burst into tears. Once, I cried because I realized that my precious son would one day experience pain and heartbreak, because that's life. Then I cried because I felt so lucky I got to experience motherhood. Get ready to ride the emotional roller express. The highs are blissful. The lows? Well ...
2. Because we are so freaking tired
Oh, you think you know tired? But have you been tired after giving birth before? Probably not. Even if you adopted or had a surrogate, I bet you thought that it was true that newborns sleep all day. They do sleep a lot, but they also eat and poop constantly. You will soon understand why sleep deprivation is a torture strategy. Everything will make you cry because you are THAT tired.
Remember those hormones that made you nutty during pregnancy? They are back with a vengeance and impact your mood.
3. Feeding issues
Here’s a little secret: Breastfeeding is hard. It’s not like the posters make it seem. It takes time to get the hang of it—even longer if have other issues and little support. You will cry because your nipples hurt, you will cry because you are scared you are not producing enough milk. You will cry because you leaked milk all over yourself. You will cry because you're crying. Get ready to produce—tears, that is.
Remember those hormones that made you nutty during pregnancy? They are back with a vengeance and impact your mood. After birth, your hormones start calibrating, trying to find the right balance. Then the nursing hormones kick in and start doing their thing. As you deal with these numerous changes, remember to stay nourished, hydrated and as rested as you can (because tears). Monitor yourself closely, and make sure those baby blues are not a sign of postpartum depression.
The first few days, your goal is to keep the baby alive. Then it hits you: You have no idea what you are doing. Trigger the tears.
5. Other people
Let’s say your mom comes over to help with the baby and she makes a comment, any comment, that rubs you slightly the wrong way. Like, “In my day, we didn’t need books to care for our babies.” This is a comment that you might have been able to brush off before, but suddenly, this seemingly innocent comment makes you burst into tears. Be sure to warn others about your delicate state (if they don’t know already).
6. Because we have no idea what we're doing
The first few days, your goal is to keep the baby alive. Then it hits you: You have no idea what you are doing. Trigger the tears. Or maybe you knew what you were doing, but things that had worked aren’t working anymore. My breaking point was swaddling. I just couldn’t swaddle my son as well as those non-crying experts in the YouTube videos did. I resorted to having Dad be in charge of swaddling, while I got more practice. Sure, motherhood is instinctual (I don't know. Is it really?), but it’s also a learning process. Give yourself time. Don’t forget that you’re not alone. Call in reinforcements when you need them.
Becoming a parent awakens so many emotions in us. I couldn’t even watch sappy commercials without becoming a ball of emotion. That still happens, but you know what I mean. Give yourself time to adapt—this is a monumental change. Seek out supportive friends, talk to your partner, and allow yourself to do things that bring you comfort. And when the tears come in, grab a Kleenex and just go with it.