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Postpartum Depression or Baby Blues

Elizabeth Keefe


The arrival of a baby is meant to be a time of great joy for a new mother. Nevertheless, when a woman begins experiencing feelings of great sadness, only days after the birth of her baby, she may feel as if something is wrong with her. Even though the exact cause of childbirth-related depression is unknown, most doctors agree that it has to do with the dramatic hormone changes that occur in a woman's body both during and following delivery.

Do You Have the "Baby Blues"?

The "baby blues" is a term used to describe emotional and physical symptoms usually beginning on the third or fourth day following childbirth, and lasting up to 10 days after delivery. According to the Women's Health in Primary Care magazine, the "baby blues" is a common occurrence affecting between 50% and 75% of new mothers, following childbirth.

Do you have the "baby blues"? The following is a list of common symptoms, which may appear at any time during the first weeks following childbirth:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Rejection of partner
  • Rejection of baby
  • Anxiety
  • Inappropriate and/or obsessional thoughts
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive problems (Nausea, constipation, etc.)
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Stomach pains
  • Chest Pains
  • Pains which move from place to place

Are you Depressed?

Sometimes depression lasts longer than a few weeks following birth, in which case the mother may be experiencing postpartum depression. According to the National Women's Health Information Center, approximately 10% of new mothers will experience some form of postpartum depression. Symptoms may appear anywhere from a few days following birth to one year after, and include some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Less energy and motivation to do things 
  • A hard time falling asleep or staying asleep 
  • Sleeping more than usual 
  • Increased crying or tearfulness 
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or overly guilty 
  • Feeling restless, irritable or anxious 
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain 
  • Feeling like life isn't worth living 
  • Having thoughts about hurting yourself 
  • Worrying about hurting your baby

Ways to Feel Better

Reserve some time for yourself. Set aside at least one hour each day, to do what you enjoy best. It may be reading a good book, taking a walk, or a long, hot bubble bath. Taking time for yourself is crucial for any new mother--you must nurture yourself to feel good about yourself.

Exercise also will help alleviate symptoms. Exercising helps release endorphins, which aid in a person's overall well being. Take a walk, ride a bike, take a jog; these are all excellent ways to release those endorphins and help you feel better, both physically and mentally.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please seek the advice of your health care provider. There are medications available that can help you overcome these overwhelming feelings. For those who prefer more homeopathic methods of treatment, there are also herbal drugs available that will also help reduce your symptoms.

Talk About It! But Who Do you Turn To?

The best person to turn to for support will be your best friend and partner--your husband. It is always best to be completely open about your feelings with your husband. Sometimes depression can lead to a woman feeling reserved towards her husband, and in return feelings of confusion from him. He may not know how you feel, but he will always be your number one supporter and friend. Communication is key when suffering from depression. It will not only make you feel better, but your partner as well.

You may be surprised to find that your mother probably experienced the "baby blues" and/or postpartum depression, as did your grandmother. It may be best for you to talk about how you are feeling with those who have been there. Sometimes, Mom is the best person to turn to.

Online support groups are also available, free of charge, for those wishing to seek advice and a friend to talk to. Here at Baby Corner, we have dedicated an entire board to postpartum depression. On the board, new moms discuss their feelings and build new friendships! . If you ever need a friend to talk to, Baby Corner will always be here for you.

Your local health organizations are also available for assistance. They may offer the services of a telephone counselor, or be able to provide you with information about postpartum depression. Be sure to check your local yellow pages for organizations and support groups in your area.

You are not alone when you experience depression after having a baby. The symptoms will get better, and you will feel normal again. Please keep in mind that you are a not a terrible mother, nor a terrible wife because of the feelings you may be having. With time, love, and the proper treatment, you will be on your way to being a happier wife and mother.

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