By Kaitlin Stanford for TheBump.com
Maybe it’s the sound of his voice that suddenly gets under your skin or the way he chews his food with his mouth open. Whatever it is, you’re not alone. Your husband is half the reason you have your little bundle of joy, but right now, you can’t stand the sight of him – even when he’s trying to be helpful.
Why you suddenly loathe him
According to Dr. Shoshana Bennett, a postpartum depression specialist and author of Postpartum Depression for Dummies, it’s normal to experience some bouts of irrational crankiness. “It can be easy to use your husband as a verbal punching bag,” explains Dr. Bennett. “When you’re frustrated, it’s easier to let yourself yell at another adult in the house rather than at an infant.” Part of the reason for your crankiness is what Dr. Bennett calls the Myths of Motherhood. “Women often find themselves thinking things like, ‘I should be able to do this all by myself,’ or ‘If I loved my baby enough, I shouldn’t need any breaks,’” she says. “Once you change the mindset that you need to do everything all by yourself, a lot of your anger, resentment and frustration will subside.”
If your post-baby moodiness doesn’t end there, finding the root of your anger might take a little more detective work.
Getting at the real problem
As you might already suspect, most of your mood swings aren’t actually about him at all – the real problems start with you (though this may not be the answer you’re looking for). Dr. Bennett points out that if everything else is going well in the relationship and a woman still finds herself snapping at her husband, she needs to look at what's going on both physiologically and hormonally. Here are some key questions to ask:
Am I getting enough sleep? Remember what that was like? While a night of solid, uninterrupted shut-eye seems a thing of the past, don't underestimate its power. “A good night's sleep is a necessity, not a luxury,” says Dr. Bennett, who suggests having someone else watch baby while getting some extra snooze time during the day or trading night shifts with your partner to get a little more rest.
Am I drinking enough water? Dehydration not only causes irritability, but it also leads to anxiety. If you're breastfeeding, you need to be extra careful to get in your daily 8 glasses of water. Get in the habit of keeping a glass of water nearby and sipping on it as baby nurses.
How's my diet? You’re no longer eating for two, but your diet is just as important. Be sure to get enough protein and calcium. Also, add a few more snacks to your day so you don't become weak and cranky. Munch on peanuts or almonds and drink a glass of milk or two.
What am I missing? Don’t forget about the things you enjoy. Meet up with friends so you don’t feel you’re losing touch, or de-stress by getting your nails done. Planning one thing each week to look forward to will lift your spirits.
Dealing in the moment
No matter how many precautions you take, the mood swings may still strike. Don’t be afraid to take a breather by handing over the little one to your husband and walking into another room for a bit. Just make sure he knows why you’re walking away before you go. If you’ve been keeping the lines of communication open all along, he won’t feel left in the dark. Letting him know what’s going on will also prevent you from bottling up your anger until it reaches a boiling point. “Sometimes we think that unloading on someone else will lower our stress,” says Dr. Bennett. “But it actually doesn’t. We might feel better for a second, but then we feel bad about ourselves and there's cleaning up to do.”
When to worry
If you’ve been extremely cranky for more than a few weeks postpartum, speak to your doctor. Women with the baby blues tend to see their symptoms subside after only a few weeks, but women with postpartum depression (PPD) tend to suffer from more severe mood swings or extreme sadness for much longer. If you suspect you’re suffering from PPD, speak to your doctor immediately or visit Postpartum Support International for more info.
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