blues; depression; crying; sad; down; baby; birth; mood; post; natal; distress; depression; tearfulness; anxiety;
The baby blues and postnatal depression affect large numbers of women who have recently had babies. For most women the baby blues will go within a day or two, but postnatal depression can affect women for many months.
Two out of every 3 women who have a baby will have the 'baby blues' – a wide range of feelings including tearfulness and anxiety.
These feelings usually happen on about the third or fourth day after childbirth. They seem to be due to the huge emotional and physical changes that happen with child birth.
A new mother may feel like crying often, and can experience a range of emotions. This can range from despairing about getting breastfeeding going, to anger that a particular friend hasn't rung up or perhaps to thinking her partner won't want her any more now that she has responsibilities and her body shape is different.
These feelings usually last around a day or so, and if family, friends and others are kind and listen, no other treatment is usually required.
With short admissions after the birth, the mother may already be at home and trying to adjust to a new baby, breast-feeding and so on when she feels like this. She and her family need to know that these feelings are normal and will usually pass.
For one in every 6 women, however, (which is a big percentage of the women who have babies), one of the following can happen:
- The blues do not go and the situation develops into postnatal depression (PND).
- Symptoms of depression develop a few weeks or months after childbirth, perhaps after the blues have long gone away.
- A very serious form of depression can develop after childbirth called puerperal psychosis.
For more information about PND and puerperal psychosis have a look at the topic Post natal depression.
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see your doctor or midwife.