Coping with Postpartum Blues

  • Change Breeds Stress
    Like all major changes in life, a new baby can bring both joy and anxiety. So it should come as no surprise that more than half of new mothers struggle with temporary feelings of depression, commonly called baby blues.

  • Baby Blues
    Postpartum blues or baby blues usually start a few days after birth. New mothers may feel depressed, anxious, and angry with the baby or their partner. They may also cry for no reason or have trouble sleeping or eating.

  • A Big Hormonal Swing
    There are many reasons why women suffer from depression or anxiety after having a baby. For starters, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which rise significantly while pregnant, quickly drop to normal levels after giving birth. This natural cycle is very similar to the milder hormone changes that can cause premenstrual syndrome, also called PMS.

  • Lack of Sleep, Loads of Worry
    In addition, many women are extremely tired and weak after giving birth, and they are very likely not getting enough sleep. Plus, the emotional adjustment to new stressors is immense. Women may be concerned about their ability to care for their baby or feel guilty for not instinctively knowing how to be a perfect mother.

  • Ease the Transition
    If this sounds familiar, don't fear—you can follow self-care steps to help ease the stress on yourself and your baby.

  • Sleep Is Key: Tip 1: Get some rest.
    Sleep whenever the baby is sleeping, and talk with your partner about helping with night feedings.

  • Accept Help: Tip 2: Get help from your partner, family, and friends.
    Ask your mom to take your other children to the park for a while. Or let a friend go to the grocery store for you or help with housework. Real friends will jump at the opportunity to assist you, as would you if the tables were turned.

  • Allow Room for Error: Tip 3: Give yourself permission not to be perfect.
    Most women struggle to balance their role of caring for a newborn with other responsibilities like housework, other children, or a job—even women with lots of support.

  • Get Up, Get Out: Tip 4: Take care of yourself.
    Shower and dress every day and get out of the house. Go for a walk, meet up with a friend, or go on a date with your partner.

  • Share Your Feelings: Tip 5: Share your feelings with your partner or a friend.
    Telling someone you trust how you feel can bring relief and reassurance.

  • Seek Support: Tip 6: Seek out other mothers or find a support group.
    You can learn from others' experiences and share your own. Take advantage of what other new moms have discovered.

  • If the Blues Don't Subside
    Luckily, the baby blues often go away within a few days or a week, and the symptoms are generally mild. But within the first month after having a baby, 8 to 20% of new mothers develop postpartum depression, a more severe and long-lasting depression that requires medical attention and treatment.

  • When You Need Professional Help
    If your symptoms don't go away after two weeks, become more severe, or involve additional symptoms, such as loss of interest in your baby or thoughts of harming your baby or yourself, seek help right away from your doctor.

  • You Can Find Relief
    With the use of therapy and antidepressant medications, women with postpartum depression can find relief from symptoms.

6 Self-Care Tips for Postpartum Blues
  1. Postpartum Depression. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. 2009.
  2. Postpartum Depression. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health, 2008.
  3. Depression During and After Pregnancy—Frequently Asked Questions. National Women's Health Information Center. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2009.
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 9
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