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Home > Learn > Mental Health > >Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression

Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression

Dec 18, 23 6 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

If you’re feeling sad, worried, unhappy, fatigued, or any other combination of emotions after giving birth, you’re not alone. There are many reasons you may be feeling this way, and it’s estimated that up to 80% of new mothers are in the same boat. [1] It is important to discuss how you’re feeling with a healthcare provider and to lean on your support system while you navigate these new emotions. Let’s talk more about what may be causing these feelings, and compare and contrast postpartum depression vs. the baby blues. 

Do I Have Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

You may be wondering if what you’re feeling is postpartum depression or the more common, often transient baby blues. In the moment it may be hard to make sense of your emotions, which is why it’s so important to speak to a professional about whatever you’re feeling. [1] 

Generally, the baby blues will resolve after a week or two while postpartum depression is more likely to stick around. Postpartum depression can also manifest up to a year after giving birth, while the baby blues often develop within a few days of delivery. [1-2] 

What Are Baby Blues?

The postpartum blues, often known as the baby blues, affect up to 75 or 80% of people after childbirth. [1] The condition usually develops within a few days after delivery. The baby blues are temporary and often subside without any treatment, but social support is extremely important during this time. [1] 

Symptoms of Baby Blues

The baby blues can impact everyone differently but may present as [1]:

  • Crying spells
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Unhappiness
  • Worry
  • Fatigue
  • Impatience
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty concentrating

When Do Baby Blues Go Away?

The baby blues often appear within a few days of delivery and rarely last longer than two weeks. [3] Baby blues can resolve on their own without treatment, but you should still speak to a healthcare provider if you’re interested in therapy, medications, or other treatment options. [1] Learn about other postpartum complications and conditions → 

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Managing Baby Blues

Fortunately, the postpartum blues are temporary and can resolve without treatment, such as therapy or medication. If you are experiencing the baby blues and are looking for ways to manage it, you may find some comfort with the following [1-4]:

  • Social support and connections: lean on your loved ones as much as you need during this time. There are also support groups online and in person that your provider may be able to help you locate. Some online resources include Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Progress
  • Prioritize self-care: You have been through many changes in the past nine months. Your body was shared with your baby, you gave birth, and your hormones have been fluctuating. Find ways to treat and care for yourself, whether it’s getting an hour alone to read, take a bath, get a massage, go on a walk, etc. Natalist also offers postpartum self-care products if you need a little inspiration.  
  • Eat a balanced diet: A large part of taking care of yourself is nourishing your body. Encourage postpartum healing and breastfeeding with a postnatal vitamin, balanced meals, and plenty of water! 
  • Be kind to yourself: You shouldn’t expect perfection immediately after giving birth. You are not alone in your emotions- remember that you are capable, strong, and extremely important to your baby, partner, friends, and family. 
  • Sleep when you can: Your ideal sleep schedule should probably be forgotten about when you’re taking care of a newborn. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps, or come up with a shift schedule that works well for you and your partner. 
  • Accept help: Your support system will be a huge lifeline for you while adjusting to your new routine and parenting journey. Don’t be afraid to lean on your people- ask for help and accept help whenever you can. 

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is another condition that can arise after childbirth, but is often more long-lasting and may require treatment. [4] Postpartum depression is thought to impact about one in seven new parents and can develop within a week after delivery up to a year later. [2,4] Those who have had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy have a higher risk of developing the condition again. [4] 

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can manifest differently in everyone and may even be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and worry. [4] Common symptoms and signs of postpartum depression include [4]:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Feeling foggy 
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Guilt
  • Feeling as though you are incapable of taking care of yourself or your baby
  • Upsetting or scary thoughts 
  • Losing interest in activities 
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Keep in mind that postpartum depression symptoms can range from mild to severe. There are other types of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum anxiety, PTSD, OCD, psychosis, and others. [2] If you are ever experiencing any new or concerning symptoms or you’re worried about a loved one, speak to a professional. 

Treating Postpartum Depression

Treatment for postpartum depression can vary from person to person depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Some people will find that antidepressants or other prescription medications are helpful, while others may prefer talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. [4] Treatment can also be a combination of things- including medication, individual therapy, and group therapy. You should speak with your provider when determining what treatment is right for you. 

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Support Postpartum Life With Natalist

Postpartum life is full of new experiences, emotions, and challenges. Whether you just had your first baby or you’ve been through postpartum life a handful of times, conditions like postpartum depression and the baby blues can still be difficult to experience. At Natalist, we want to provide you with resources and products you can trust. Shop self-care items and our specially curated postpartum care kit, or keep reading to hear from experts on all things fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum.

 


Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, health equity, and mentoring. She is the CEO of The EpiCentre, an OBGYN spa-like practice, and is a Clinical faculty member of Charleston Southern University.  She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women. 


References:

  1. Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression. South Dakota Department of Health. Accessed November 2023. https://doh.sd.gov/programs/for-babys-sake/you-and-baby/postpartum-depression/
  2. Balaram K, Marwaha R. Postpartum Blues. [Updated 2023 Mar 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554546/
  3. Postpartum Depression. Mayo Clinic. November 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617
  4. Postpartum Depression. Cleveland Clinic. April 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9312-postpartum-depression

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