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The first couple of weeks after childbirth can be disorienting. Combine a lack of sleep with your emotions feeling like they’re on a roller coaster. Are you feeling extra emotional? Tearful? Elated one minute, sad the next? Are you exhausted and feeling challenged by simple tasks?
If this is you, you might have what’s known as the “baby blues.” Up to 80 percent of moms will experience negative feelings or mood swings after giving birth1, making it a very common experience. These symptoms typically last for two to three weeks following delivery and resolve with no need for medical intervention. Fortunately, baby blues shouldn’t impact your ability to take care of your baby.
Up to 80 percent of moms experience baby blues.
The baby blues can be characterized by a range of symptoms, including insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, sadness, and irritability3. A frequent symptom is crying spells.You may hear other mothers describe this as “crying for no reason in particular.”
It’s OK to be emotional. You just brought a human being into the world!
You can thank your hormones for how you’re feeling. When you were pregnant, your hormone levels surged to help you maintain a healthy pregnancy, but then took a nosedive once the baby arrived. This nosedive can drastically affect your mood. Struggling to find an equilibrium while dealing with major life changes and fluctuating hormone levels is enough to make anyone feel stressed and weepy.
The baby blues typically resolve on their own, once your body adjusts to these big physiological shifts. Symptoms typically come and go over the course of a day. If you find yourself suddenly feeling low for no specific reason, try to remember that your body is experiencing a lot of big changes in the early weeks, and that your current emotional state will pass.
Self-care is especially important at this time. It’s about meeting your own needs alongside your child’s—and not feeling bad about asking for help!
Certain nutrients may also help your body ward off the baby blues. Studies show that EPA and DHA, two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the risks of postpartum depression4. Many prenatal vitamins include Omega-3s, but you can talk to your doctor about other ways to work them into your diet during your pregnancy and postpartum months.
If your symptoms don’t resolve within a few weeks postpartum, or they seem to be getting worse, you may be dealing with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), rather than the baby blues. PMADs are also fairly common, with more than 15 percent of women experiencing deeper feelings of depression, anxiety, and sleep changes after the birth of their child5.
Only a trained health care professional can diagnose a PMAD, so if you’re dealing with prolonged, severe, or increasingly challenging issues, reach out to your doctor. This postpartum mood quiz may also help you determine whether you’re experiencing the baby blues, or something more serious:
How are you feeling? Learn more about whether your emotional state is normal, or if something more serious may be going on.
PSI helps women and families detect, understand, and seek treatment for mental-health issues during the postpartum period.
How can we help you?