Emotional changes after delivery

aLots of things are happening to you right after you have a baby. Now that your baby is here, you may be feeling some emotional changes. Here's what you can expect.

Feeling stressed and overwhelmed
Your baby didn't come with a set of instructions. You may feel overwhelmed trying to take care of her. You have so many questions. Why is she crying? Is it time to feed her again? Is she getting enough milk? Why doesn't she sleep more at night? It's a lot to think about.

What you can do:

  • Talk to your partner. Tell your partner that you need help with the baby and around the house.
  • Ask your friends and family for help. Tell them exactly what they can do for you. Ask them to help with childcare, go grocery shopping or make meals.
  • Find a support group of new moms. A support group is a group of people who have the same kinds of concerns. They meet together to try to help each other. Some women find help from online support groups. Ask your provider to help you find a group that is right for you.
  • Eat healthy foods and be active when you can. Eating healthy and getting fit can help you feel better.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or abuse drugs. All of these things can make it hard for you to handle stress.

Feeling sad or depressed
Having a baby is supposed to make you feel amazing and wonderful. But for some moms, happy feelings mix with sad feelings. Most experts think this sadness is caused by all the hormones in a woman's body right after pregnancy. Here's what you should know if you feel sad or depressed after you've had your baby

Baby blues
The baby blues are feelings of sadness that some women have 3 to 5 days after having a baby. You may feel sad or irritable. You may cry a lot. By about the 10th day after the baby's birth, these sad feelings should go away. If they don't, call your health care provider.

What you can do:

  • Talk to your partner or a good friend about how you feel.
  • Get plenty of rest. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps.
  • Ask your partner, friends and family for help taking care of the baby and taking care of the house.
  • Take time for yourself. Get out of the house every day, even if it's just for a short while.
  • Find a support group of new moms and share your feelings with the women you meet there. Ask your provider to help you find a group.

Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is different from the baby blues. It is more intense feelings of sadness that last for a long time after the baby is born. Many women (about 1 in 8) have postpartum depression after having a baby. In fact, it’s the most common problem for new moms. It can happen any time in the first 3 months after having a baby.

You may have postpartum depression if you have five or more of the following signs that last for 2 weeks or longer:

  • Having little interest in your usual activities or hobbies
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Changes in how much or how little you want to eat
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thinking about suicide or death

What you can do:

Tell your provider if you think you have postpartum depression. There are things you and your provider can do to help you feel better.

May 2009

Most common questions

How do I know if I have postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is intense feelings of sadness that last for a long time after having a baby. About 1 in 8 women have postpartum depression. In fact, it's the most common problem for new moms. It can happen any time in the first 3 months after a baby is born. Signs of PPD include feeling tired all the time, having no interest in your usual activities, gaining or losing weight, changing your eating habits, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and thinking about suicide or death. If you have five or more of these signs and they last for 2 weeks or longer, you may have PPD. Tell your health care provider about your feelings. She can give you treatment that can help you feel better.

What are the baby blues?

Baby blues are feelings of sadness you may have 3 to 5 days after having a baby. These feelings most likely are caused by all the hormones in your body right after pregnancy. You may feel sad or cranky, and you may cry a lot. By about 10 days after the baby's birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don't, tell your health care provider.

What can I do to get rid of the baby blues?

Talk to your partner or a good friend about how you're feeling. It's really common to have the baby blues, and talking about your feelings may help you feel better. Get plenty of rest. It's hard to rest with a new baby to take care of! Try to sleep when the baby sleeps. Ask your partner, friends and family to help you take care of the baby and chores around the house. It's OK to ask for help so you don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. Finally, get out of the house every day, even if it’s for a short time. Don't feel like you have to stay home all day by yourself. Getting up and out of the house can make you feel energized and back in touch with the rest of the world.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).