Have you got the baby blues?

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet

Dr Nicole Highet is the Founder of COPE. As well as the Executive Director of COPE (the Centre of Perinatal Excellence). COPE is a not-for-profit organisation devoted to reducing the impacts of emotional and mental health problems in the pre and postnatal periods.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 3 mins read
Have you got the baby blues?

In the early days following birth, some women will experience a temporary condition commonly known as ‘The Baby Blues’. This will generally occur between the third and fifth day after having your baby and can leave you feeling very distressed and/or emotional. Some women may worry that the baby blues will affect their ability to bond with their newborn. However, it’s important to remember that the baby blues do not typically interfere with the mother-infant bond. Most women continue to feel love and affection for their baby despite experiencing temporary emotional changes.

What does the baby blues look like?

Often women will describe feeling very teary and sometimes even irritable. They may feel overwhelmed or emotionally sensitive. They may have frequent mood swings, ranging from happiness to sadness, or anxiety. Other common signs include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and trouble concentrating. These symptoms are typically mild and do not interfere significantly with daily functioning.

What causes baby blues?

The exact causes of the baby blues are not fully understood, but hormonal fluctuations, sleep deprivation, physical recovery from childbirth, and adjustment to the demands of motherhood are believed to contribute to its development. Emotional factors such as the stress of caring for a newborn and changes in lifestyle and identity may also play a role.

Be reassured that these overwhelming feelings are completely normal and natural and you are not alone in experiencing it.

How common is it?

The baby blues is very common, with up to 80% of women experiencing this condition. In some cases, you may experience this with one child but not necessarily another. They will usually disappear within a few days, and there is generally no need for any treatment other than understanding what is going, getting rest and having support around you.

If symptoms continue…

If these symptoms don’t pass on their own, it may be a sign of another type of condition relating to childbirth, such as postnatal depression or postnatal anxiety. It’s important to distinguish the baby blues from postpartum depression (PPD) – which is a more severe and long-lasting condition. While the baby blues symptoms are relatively mild and transient, PPD symptoms are more persistent and can interfere with daily functioning and bonding with the baby. If symptoms worsen, persist beyond two weeks, or significantly impair a woman’s ability to function, it is essential to seek professional help.

Seeking advice faster will mean that you can get on top of it sooner which is important for you and your family.

What are ways you can help someone with the baby blues?

For women experiencing the baby blues, knowing that they have support can make a huge difference while they settle into their new routine. If your partner or loved one is feeling overwhelmed, here are some things you can do.

  1. Offer empathy and understanding: Let the person know that their feelings are valid and that many new mothers experience similar emotions. Reassure them that the baby blues are a normal and temporary condition that will pass with time.
  2. Provide a listening ear: Encourage the person to talk openly about their feelings and concerns. Be attentive, patient, and non-judgmental as they express their emotions. Sometimes, simply having someone to listen can provide great comfort and validation.
  3. Help with practical tasks: Offer to help with daily household chores, cooking, or running errands. Taking care of these responsibilities can alleviate some of the stress and allow the person to focus on self-care and bonding with their baby.
  4. Encourage self-care: Remind the person to prioritise self-care, including getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in activities they enjoy. Encourage them to take breaks when needed and provide opportunities for relaxation and self-indulgence.

Remember, every woman’s experience with the baby blues may vary. If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional changes after childbirth, reaching out for support is essential to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.

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