The first few days at home after having your baby (the postpartum period) are a time for rest and recovery – physically and emotionally. The postpartum period can be a time of joy and happiness, but it can also bring fatigue, sadness, anxiety and distress. During the postpartum period, about 85 percent of women experience some type of mood disturbance. For most, the symptoms are mild and short-lived, however, 10 to 15 percent of women develop more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety. Postpartum psychiatric illness is typically divided into three categories: (1) postpartum blues (2) postpartum depression and (3) postpartum psychosis. Think of these disorders as existing along a continuum: postpartum blues being the mildest and postpartum psychosis the most severe form of postpartum psychiatric illness.

The “Baby Blues”

About 50-85 percent of new mothers experience feelings of the “baby blues” in the first few weeks after giving birth. Changing hormones, anxiety about caring for the baby, and lack of sleep all affect your emotions. Given how common this type of mood disturbance is, it may be more accurate to consider the blues as a normal experience following childbirth rather than a psychiatric illness.

Rather than feelings of sadness, women with the “baby blues” more commonly report tearfulness, fluctuating moods, irritability, and anxiety. After childbirth you may feel sad, weepy, and overwhelmed for a few days. These symptoms typically peak on the fourth or fifth day after delivery and may last for a few hours or a few days. While these symptoms are unpredictable and often unsettling, they do not interfere with a woman’s ability to function and usually resolve within two weeks after delivery.

Postpartum blues require no specific treatment but sometimes the blues develop into a more significant mood disorder, particularly in women who have a history of depression. If symptoms of depression persist for longer than two weeks, it important to see a health care provider to be evaluated and rule out a more serious mood disorder.

Be patient with yourself. These feelings are normal and usually go away quickly, however, if sadness lasts more than two weeks, don’t wait until your postpartum visit to see your doctor. For some new moms, depression and feelings of anxiety can be extreme and interfere with their ability to care for themselves and their family.  

There are a number of mood disorders that affect new moms including:

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Depression and Anxiety


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Postpartum Psychosis

Please remember this information is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute medical advice from a healthcare provider.