It’s very common for women to have times of highs and lows or to feel “blue”after having a baby. These feelings usually start 2-3 days after birth and can come and go. New mothers may experience feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue. These feelings typically get better within a few weeks.
If these feelings last for more than a few weeks or you become concerned about yourself or a new mom, you (or she) could be experiencing postpartum depression. Contact your healthcare provider or call the national hotline for “Depression After Delivery” at 1-800-944-4773.
Moms with baby blues can experience:
- Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
- Insomnia (even when the baby is sleeping)
- Mood changes
- Poor concentration
How often do women experience the “baby blues?”
Approximately 70-80% of all new mothers experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child. Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common problems women experience during and after pregnancy.
We now know that women may also experience anxiety around the time of pregnancy, beyond just being nervous about having a baby. Anxiety during and after pregnancy is as common as depression and may even happen at the same time as depression. No matter what you call them, depression and anxiety that happen during pregnancy or after birth are real medical conditions, and they affect many women.
How to help
Some things moms can do to help relieve baby blues include:
- Talk with someone you trust about how you are feeling.
- Connect with other moms in your community or online
- Maintain a well-balanced diet
- Having a new baby may limit the time you have to prepare healthy meals. Too many simple carbohydrates can make mood swings more pronounced.
- Make time for yourself – do something you enjoy
- Take a walk, take a bath, read, journal, draw, watch a movie, meditate, or find a yoga class. Take a bit of time each day to do something you enjoy.
- Be with other adults and make time to be with your partner
- Seek out other adults who can provide comfort and company. Set aside regular time for you and your partner, or for you and a friend, to be together.
- Be realistic
- Don’t expect perfection in the first few weeks. Give yourself time to heal from birth, and for feeding and sleeping routines to settle in.
- Rest when baby rests
- Sleep is just as important for you as it is for baby
- Ask for help
- Whether it’s caring for baby, preparing meals, helping with other children, doing household chores, or getting into a routine, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to support you so you can focus on the joy of having a new baby and not just the pressure of juggling it all.
For more information download our PDF.
Or visit: American Pregnancy.org Baby Blues
Mom’s Mental Health Matters: Moms-to-be and Moms – NCMHEP
Postpartum depression is more serious than “baby blues” and can start within the first few weeks after birth. It interferes with mom’s ability to care for herself and her family. It can occur up to a year after birth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may require treatment.
If you are concerned about yourself or a new mom who could be experiencing postpartum depression, contact your healthcare provider or call the national hotline for “Depression After Delivery” at 1-800-944-4773.
Moms with postpartum depression:
- Can be extremely sad or angry without warning
- Seem foggy or have trouble completing tasks
- Appear “robotic,” like they are just going through the motions
- Be very anxious around the baby and their other children
- Feel guilty and like they are failing at motherhood
- Have little interest in things they used to enjoy
- Have scary, upsetting thoughts that don’t go away or thoughts of hurting self or baby
- Feel intense symptoms of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness
- Lose interest in activities or withdraw from friends and family.
How common is postpartum depression?
On average, 13% of women have symptoms of depression after the birth of a baby. In South Dakota, that average is slightly higher and is more common among American Indian mothers, younger mothers, mothers with less education, lower household income, and unmarried mothers (PRAMS 2018).
Postpartum depression does not have a single cause and does not occur because of something a mother does or does not do. Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or years. But, there are effective treatments available.
For more on symptoms, risk factors, and treatment, visit NIH: Postpartum Depression Facts
To find a behavioral health specialist in your area, visit: South Dakota Department of Social Services
How to help
If you are experiencing postpartum depression or are concerned about someone who may be:
- Contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible
- Keep these things in mind:
- Know that you are not alone.
- Tell your doctor about your symptoms.
- Consider treatment options such as:
- Counseling or “Talk Therapy”
- Medications (there are medications that are safe when breastfeeding too)
- Reach out to friends, family, and loved ones for support.
- Dads can have postpartum depression too! In fact, depression in dads is relatively common, affecting anywhere between 2% – 25% during their partner’s pregnancy or in the first year postpartum.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), this rate can increase to 50% when mom is also experiencing perinatal/postpartum depression. This can take a serious toll on the family’s wellbeing.
- Men may show different signs of depression. They may feel frustrated or angry, or be irritable or impulsive. They may also have a hard time finding pleasure in anything.
- Depressed fathers are more likely to engage in substance use, domestic violence, and discourage their partner from breastfeeding and/or breast pumping.
- Dads should be screened for depression and encouraged to seek treatment and/or support.
Friends and family:
- Know the symptoms of depression.
- Encourage her to talk with a healthcare provider if she’s having symptoms of depression.
- Offer emotional and practical support.
- Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Listen to her without judging or offering solutions. Instead of trying to fix things, simply be there for her to lean on.
- Offer help around the house. Chip in with the housework and childcare responsibilities. Don’t wait for her to ask!
- Make sure she takes time for herself. Rest and relaxation are important. Encourage her to take breaks, hire a babysitter, or schedule some date nights.
- Be patient if she’s not ready for sex. Depression affects sex drive, so it may be a while before she’s in the mood. Offer her physical affection, but don’t push if she’s not up for sex.
- Go for a walk with her. Getting exercise can make a big dent in depression, but it’s hard to get motivated when you’re feeling low. Help her by making walks a daily ritual for the two of you.
For Dads: What To Do, What Not To Do When Your Wife Has PPD
Dads Can Get Depression Too
Expert Q & A: Postpartum Depression
CDC: Identifying Maternal Depression