Many women get postpartum blues, also called the "baby blues," during the first few days after childbirth. They may lose sleep, feel irritable, cry easily, and feel happy one minute and sad the next. Hormone changes are one cause of these emotional changes. Also, the demands of a new baby, coupled with visits from relatives or other family needs, add to a mother's stress. The "baby blues" usually peak around the fourth day and then ease up in less than 2 weeks.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of the baby blues include:1
- Trouble sleeping.
- Mood swings.
- Poor concentration.
In some women, sometime in the first 3 months after delivery, the baby blues become a more serious condition called postpartum depression. Postpartum depression affects up to 15 out of 100 women. 1 If your moodiness or anxiety lasts for more than 2 weeks, or if you feel like life isn't worth living, you may have postpartum depression.
How can you care for yourself?
Many new moms feel down, anxious, or irritable during the first few days after giving birth. But there are many things you can do to help take care of yourself as you adjust to having a new baby.
- Ask for help from others, so you can get as much sleep, healthy food, exercise, and overall support as possible.
- Talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol or caffeine and taking other drugs or medicines.
- Check in with your doctor. Close monitoring after childbirth is important. If you have an increased risk for developing postpartum depression, follow up with your doctor or midwife 1 to 3 weeks after giving birth.
- Join a support group of new mothers. No one can better understand and support the challenges of caring for a new baby than other postpartum women. For more information on support groups, see the website for Postpartum Support International at www.postpartum.net or talk to your doctor.
- Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Neurological and psychiatric disorders. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 1164–1184. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of: November 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology