Mental health

Expert tips & videos

postpartum mental health

The "baby blues"

Often sets in a few days after giving birth, but can also set in weeks later

You experience bouts of crying, sadness, anxiety, irritability, confusion, and/or fatigue—but it doesn’t affect your ability to function and take care of your baby, and support from other people in your life can greatly help you cope

Very common, affecting up to 80% of new moms

Postpartum depression (PPD)

Set in days or even months after delivering and can last for many weeks or months if left untreated

Severely affects your ability to return to normal functioning, and support from other people in your life isn’t helping you deal with it

Affects at least 600,000 women in the US each year (about 1 in 7 moms); about half have never experienced depression before

80% of moms who seek support are successfully treated

What to do

It’s a spectrum, not black-and-white “baby blues or PPD”, though it’s often presented that way. This means solutions go beyond “let it pass or see a psychiatrist”. There are many in-betweens, types of depression and anxiety disorders, and remedies. Just please don’t suffer alone or in silence.

Your health professional: This is your first go-to if you don’t know where to turn. OBGYNs, nurses, and midwives have a lot of resources and referrals and are eager to support new moms that need help before the “official” postpartum checkup.

Other moms: Many moms find having a community of other moms can be a game changer – ideally moms that are in the same postpartum moment, since it can be hard to remember what it’s like to be in the trenches months or years after going through it.

Therapists: Many moms meet with professionals that specialize in treating postpartum mood conditions and anxiety. Sometimes just having someone to talk to helps, and sometimes medication is necessary to help get through this period. A professional can evaluate the best option for you. Ask other moms or your OBGYN for recommendations in your area.

Practical postpartum mental health tips: Try to go outside at least once a day (recent research shows a link between less daylight exposure with higher risks of depression); seek any and all support to help you get some longer stretches of sleep (sleep deprivation is well-studied to be a significant risk factor for depression); try to eat a nutritious diet and go easy on the sugar & saturated fat (there are known nutritional impacts on mental health and overall cognitive functioning; see Postpartum Nutrition cheat sheet)

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