Your feelings after having a baby

June 9, 2020

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is causing a lot of anxiety to pregnant women and new moms. Find out what to do if you are not feeling well.

For most women, having a baby brings joy and happiness. While others may feel sad or moody the first few days after childbirth. This is common and is often referred to as the baby blues. About 4 in 5 new moms (80 percent) have baby blues.

Baby blues can happen 2 to 3 days after you have your baby and can last up to 2 weeks. They usually go away on their own, and you don’t need any treatment. If you have sad feelings that last longer than 2 weeks, tell your health care provider. She may want to check you for a more serious condition called postpartum depression (also called PPD).

PPD can happen any time after childbirth, although it usually starts during the first three weeks. PPD is a medical condition and it requires medical treatment to get better. 

PPD is not your fault. You didn’t do anything to cause PPD. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a bad mom.

What causes PPD?

We’re not sure what exactly causes PPD but it can happen to any woman after having a baby. Certain things increase the chances to have PPD:

  • You had  signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy, for example, feelings of sadness that last for more than 2 weeks
  • You have a history of depression or other mental health condition
  • You had a very difficult pregnancy or birth, including having a baby in the NICU
  • You had a pregnancy loss
  • You have unequal life conditions like money problems, having no access to medical care, chronic stress due to racism, living in an unsafe neighborhood
  • You’ve been physically, mentally or sexually abuse. For example, having problems with your partner like domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence or IPV)

How do I know I have PPD?

You may have PPD if you have five or more of the signs below and they last longer than 2 weeks.

Changes in your feelings:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day every day
  • Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
  • Feeling panicky or scared a lot of the time
  • Having severe mood swings

Changes in your everyday life:

  • Having little interest in things you usually like to do
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions

Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:

  • Having trouble bonding with your baby
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
  • Thinking about killing yourself

If you’re worried about hurting yourself or your baby, call emergency services at 911 right away.

What can you do?

If you think you may have PPD, call your health care provider. Your provider may suggest certain treatments such as counseling, support groups, and medicines. Medicines to treat PPD include antidepressants and estrogen. If you’re taking medicine for PPD don’t stop without your provider’s OK. Take your medicine for as long as your provider prescribes it.

PPD is a medical condition that can get better with treatment so it is very important to tell your doctor or another health care provider if you have any signs. The earlier you get treatment, the sooner you can feel better and start to enjoy being a mom.