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Postnatal Depression

mother showing signs of distress

During the first week after childbirth, many women get what's often called the 'baby blues'. Women who experience this may feel low for a little while shortly after having their baby. This can take you by surprise. After all, you’re probably expecting to feel nothing but happiness after having a baby. But the baby blues are normal and nothing to worry about.

What are the symptoms of the baby blues?

The baby blues are very common. Symptoms can include:

  • feeling emotional and irrational
  • bursting into tears for no apparent reason
  • feeling irritable or touchy
  • feeling depressed or anxious.

These feelings usually start in the week after birth and usually last for a few days.

What causes the baby blues?

Baby blues are due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that happen in your body after giving birth. Your body (and mind) has just been through an extraordinary experience and it will take a bit of time to adjust. Find out more about what your body goes through after giving birth.

There’s also the fact that you are now responsible for another human being. You’ll probably have lots of lovely moments in the first few days after the birth, but it can also be overwhelming. Not only will you be recovering from the birth, but you’ll also be learning how to feed your baby, how to soothe them, how to bath them – all of this, and you’ll probably be learning to cope with less sleep too.

Postnatal depression is when you have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt or self-blame all the time for weeks or months after you’ve had a baby.  

The symptoms can vary from mild to severe and it can affect women in different ways. Some women may find it difficult to look after themselves and their baby if they have severe depression.

Depression is a mental health condition. It is not a sign of weakness, something that will go away on its own or that you should just ‘snap out of.’ The good news is that postnatal depression can be treated with the right care and support and most women will make a full recovery.

It’s important to ask for help if you think you are depressed. If you have any of the symptoms above or just need to talk please contact your midwife, health visitor or general practitioner.

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