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How to Manage the "Baby Blues"


Having a baby is one of the most joyous times in a woman's life. Yet, joy is not the only feeling that a new baby brings. In fact, many new moms feel sad, afraid, anxious or even angry in the days and weeks following childbirth.

baby blues

Up to 80 percent of new moms experience the baby blues.

This common set of symptoms called the "baby blues" is actually a mild, short-lived depression that impacts up to 80 percent of new mothers.

While the baby blues typically go away in a few days, about 10 percent of new moms will develop a more serious condition called postpartum depression. This involves feelings of sadness, anxiety and restlessness that interfere with your daily life -- and they can develop up to six months after giving birth.

So if you are feeling severely depressed, and it's been more than a few days or weeks, you should seek professional help. For most women, however, the baby blues are a normal part of being a new mom.

The Baby Blues: What to Expect

They may only last a few days, but the roller coaster of emotions -- the crying at the drop of a hat, the trouble concentrating, the irritability -- that plagues many new mothers is still hard to handle (especially with the added demands of a new baby to care for, and recovering from childbirth).

The baby blues generally begin about three to four days after delivery and go away within 10 days.

Just what types of symptoms can you expect?

  • Exhaustion

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Irritability

  • Fear, anxiety or feeling "trapped"

  • Sadness

  • Mood swings

infant care

Even in the midst of caring for a new baby, it's important for women to take at least a few minutes a day to unwind.

Mostly, these symptoms arise from the rapid changes that occur -- both physically and mentally -- after childbirth. Your hormone levels drop, your milk comes in, and you may feel overwhelmed with the new transition to motherhood. Plus, you're sleep-deprived, which only makes everything seem worse.

Interestingly, psychologists from the University of the West of England, Bristol had a different take on the baby blues. In their 1996 study, they found that all the women they interviewed missed the freedom they had before having a baby, and in some cases also missed their old body image. They concluded that the baby blues may be a natural way of grieving for the woman's past lifestyle.

Coping With the Baby Blues

As long as your symptoms are mild and short-lived, you can cope with the baby blues by giving yourself some TLC:

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  1. Take naps as often as you can. Even short naps can be beneficial.

  2. Cry if you need to.

  3. Don't judge yourself for how you're feeling. It's normal!

  4. Talk to your spouse, family and friends about how you're feeling. You can also join a new moms support group to talk to others going through a similar transition.

  5. Ask for help when you need it, and accept help when others offer it.

  6. Keep visitors to a minimum.

  7. Prioritize what has to be done versus what can wait to be done (i.e. don't try to do everything you used to do immediately). It's OK to take a nap while the baby is sleeping instead of keeping up with the dishes. You don't have to be Supermom.

  8. Eat plenty of nutritious foods regularly throughout the day, as it's been found that low blood sugar can make your symptoms worse.

  9. Exercise. It's a natural mood booster.

  10. Try to find a few minutes a day to relax. Reading, taking a bath, meditating or listening to some music -- even for 15 minutes -- will help you feel better.

  11. Keep a diary of your feelings.

And remember, if your symptoms are severe or persistent, you should talk with your doctor to rule out the more serious post-partum depression.

Recommended Reading

If a Pregnant Woman is Carrying Low, Is It Really Going to be a Boy?

Why Babies Conceived in Summer Don't Do as Well in School


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Academy of Family Physicians

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