Postpartum Depression (Depression and the “Blues” After Childbirth)

Feelings After Having a Baby

You may feel prepared and excited about your baby’s birth.  Even so, you may have some unexpected “highs and lows” during the first year. Some women feel sad or overwhelmed even when they have help and support.  They may be concerned about having such feelings.  These emotions may be the “blues” or depression.

Why You May Feel Sad

During the days and weeks after the birth of your child, you go through a number of changes. This time is called the postpartum (post-PART-um) period.  Physical and hormonal changes are common after childbirth and to be expected. Becoming a new mother also means that you have to make emotional and social adjustments.  After the birth of a baby, you may have mixed feelings, or highs and lows.  Many women do.

Postpartum Blues

After the birth of a child, the blues are very common.  If you are feeling sad or low, you probably have the blues.  What causes the blues is not known.  The blues may come and go over the first year, but they do not last long.  If your feelings of sadness last more than a week after your baby is born, call your doctor or nurse.

Postpartum Depression

Depression can be more intense than the blues.  Depression also lasts longer.  Some women get depression after the birth of a child.  Below is a list of some signs of depression.

  • I don’t feel hungry.
  • I feel depressed.
  • Everything feels like an effort.
  • My sleep is restless.
  • I am unhappy.
  • I feel lonely.
  • People seem unfriendly.
  • I do not enjoy life.
  • I feel sad.
  • I feel people dislike me.
  • I cannot “get going.”

If you have any of the above signs for longer than a week, call your doctor or nurse. 

What to Do

For Mom

Here are some things you can do to help yourself:
  • Get as much rest as possible.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Don’t try to be a “Super Mom.”
  • Take time just for yourself.
  • Ask for help.  Caring for a baby is hard work.

If you have thoughts about harming yourself, your baby, or others, get help at once!

For Dad

Here are some things you can do to help a new mother:

  • Give your baby’s mother emotional support.
  • Make positive comments about how she looks.
  • Tell her she is doing a good job of being a mother.
  • Help with the household chores.
  • Remind her that you love her.

If you think Mom is depressed, suggest she call her doctor or call the doctor yourself.

For More Information

Books

Reading is a good way to learn more about coping after the birth of a child. Here are
2 books you may find helpful:
  •  Postpartum Survival Guide by Anne Dunnewold and Diane Sanford
  • This Isn’t What I Expected by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Raskin

Support Group

A support group can help in coping with depression. For information, contact:

  • Depression After Delivery (DAD), toll-free, at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773).

Postpartum Classes 

Classes are a way to meet other new parents. Ask your doctor or nurse to learn about postpartum classes.

Behavioral Health Services

Counseling and other behavioral health services for women and their families are available from Magee-Womens Hospital, in partnership with Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. For more details or to make an appointment, call 412-624-1000.

Ask your doctor or nurse about other resources in your community.

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