The postpartum blues
After the baby is born, many new mothers have the "postpartum blues" or the "baby blues." The word "blues" is not really correct since women with this condition are happy most of the time. But compared to how she usually feels, the new mother:
- Is more irritable
- Cries more easily
- Feels sad
- Feels confused
The postpartum blues peak three to five days after delivery. They usually end by the tenth day after the baby's birth. Although the postpartum blues are not pleasant, the woman can function normally. The feeling of the "blues" usually lessens and goes away over time.
Medical experts believe that changes in the woman's hormones after delivery cause the postpartum blues.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women do these things to help relieve the "postpartum blues":
- Talk to your partner or a good friend about how you feel
- Get plenty of rest
- Ask your partner, friends and family for help
- Take time for yourself
- Get out of the house every day, even if it's just for a short while
- Join a new mother's group and share your feelings with the women you meet there
If the symptoms last for longer than two weeks or worsen, you may have postpartum depression. This is a serious medical condition.
See also: Postpartum depression
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.