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Postpartum Blues: Understanding Motherhood and Mood Disorders

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 04, 2022

    Postpartum Blues: Understanding Motherhood and Mood Disorders

    Cuddling your beloved baby after giving birth should bring happiness to the mother. Unfortunately, there are mothers who actually feel sad, anxious, and depressed after giving birth. This condition is known as postpartum blues or baby blues syndrome.

    But what is postpartum blues or baby blues syndrome and what are the symptoms of this condition? Find out more ahead.

    What are postpartum blues?

    Postpartum blues or baby blues syndrome is characterized by profound mood swings after birth.

    This condition can make the mother impatient, irritable, worried about an array of issues — from breastfeeding to keeping their baby healthy. 

    Mothers can also feel tired but have difficulty sleeping and continue to cry for no apparent reason.

    This syndrome can begin within 3-10 days after giving birth.

    Though similar, postpartum blues is different from postpartum depression, with the latter being more severe.

    Although the baby blues syndrome is a milder form of postpartum depression, make sure you don’t ignore the symptoms.

    What are the symptoms of the baby blues?

    The term ‘postpartum blues’ is used to describe worry, unhappiness, and fatigue for the few days after giving birth.

    This syndrome can especially be experienced by mothers after giving birth to their first child. 

    Symptoms of postpartum blues are usually milder than postpartum depression.

    Mothers who experience the baby blues generally experience drastic mood swings, insomnia, or anxiety. 

    The various symptoms of postpartum blues or baby blues syndrome are as follows:

  • The mother experiences a rapid change of mood
  • Mother feels anxious and overwhelmed taking care of the baby
  • Mom feels moody and cranky
  • Mom feels sad and cries a lot
  • Mother has trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Mother has decreased appetite
  • Mom is impatient, restless, and irritable
  • Mom is having a hard time concentrating
  • These symptoms can appear during the recovery period after delivery.

    What causes postpartum blues?

    The exact cause of postpartum/baby blues is not known. However, the syndrome is thought to be related to hormonal changes during the early weeks after giving birth.

    Your body will go through a lot of adjustments after a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section .

    Your diet will change, physical changes will occur, and emotional changes can happen.

    This can be because of the pressures of motherhood, once reality sets in after leaving the hospital.

    While you may enjoy being a mother, this huge responsibility can make you feel so depressed, overwhelmed, leading to this condition.

    This condition can also be triggered by physical changes in pregnant women and daily routines, such as fatigue and lack of sleep.

    How long do the baby blues last?

    Don’t worry, your situation will soon improve even though you are currently struggling to overcome this syndrome.

    The baby blues are not a disease and usually only last a few hours or days.

    This condition can occur 2-3 days after delivery.

    Launching from the American Pregnancy Association , the symptoms of this syndrome usually last for a few minutes or several hours a day.

    When compared to postpartum depression, the baby blues usually last for a shorter period of time.

    Generally, this condition can occur for approximately two weeks after giving birth.

    While postpartum depression can last for several weeks to several months and can interfere with the mother’s activities if not treated immediately.

    This condition usually goes away within a few days without the need to see a doctor.

    Usually, you will feel better with adequate rest and support from the people around you.

    However, if you continue to feel anxious after giving birth, you may have postpartum anxiety or depression.

    Immediately consult a doctor if you feel you have this condition.

    How to deal with postpartum blues

    This syndrome generally goes away on its own although of course it requires support from your partner/spouse, family, and friends.

    Even so, you should still make various efforts as a way to overcome the baby blues .

    Some ways to help overcome the baby blues are as follows:

    • Consuming healthy and nutritious food for the mother’s self-recovery and breastfeeding the baby.
    • Consumption of multivitamins and omega 3 to maintain maternal health.
    • Do not drink alcohol because it can make the mother’s condition worse.
    • Whenever feelings of guilt arise, remind yourself that this is not your fault.
    • Ask for support from your partner, family, and those around you to help you recover.
    • Follow therapy and counseling individually or in groups.
    • Take time for yourself (me-time ) for a moment.
    • Share experiences with other new mothers.
    • Get enough rest because it is very necessary for your body’s recovery.

    If necessary, you can try relaxation, meditation, and a warm bath to calm your mind before bed.

    Can the baby blues occur before delivery?

    As previously explained, the baby blues syndrome is a mood disorder that affects women after giving birth.

    Although it usually occurs after delivery, not all women feel it at the same time.

    Some mothers may feel the symptoms of the baby blues earlier, namely before giving birth.

    This condition is better known as the pre-baby blues or antepartum depression .

    If it occurs before giving birth, this syndrome is most likely experienced by women who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time.

    This first pregnancy can trigger feelings of excessive fear and anxiety about the delivery process that will be faced later.

    In addition, there are several other factors that can increase the risk of the baby blues during pregnancy, including:

    • Having a bad relationship with a partner that lacks social and emotional support for the mother during pregnancy.
    • Have experienced domestic violence so that his life feels uncomfortable and depressed.

    Can postpartum blues condition be prevented?

    Well, to prevent the baby blues after giving birth, here are the steps you can try:

    1. Talk about your worries

    Talk to your doctor about any concerns and sadness you are currently experiencing.

    That is, always keep your prenatal consultation appointments. Often, healthcare professionals can detect signs of depression that you may not have noticed.

    That way, they can help you get your symptoms under control before they get out of control.

    Also have a heart-to-heart discussion with your husband about anything that worries you about becoming a new parent.

    You can pour out all your worries about things that might happen in the future.

    2. Release stress

    As a way to prevent the baby blues, you should set aside time for yourself regularly during pregnancy or after giving birth.

    You can do “me time” with a variety of positive activities.

    Try doing meditation, deep breathing exercises, beautifying yourself at the salon, or just having coffee, meeting and exchanging stories with other moms and moms-to-be.

    That way, you can find some relief knowing that you’re not alone.

    Because being a parent is a unique experience for every mother.

    3. Go to sleep when your baby sleeps

    Everyone has heard this classic advice, “sleep while the baby sleeps”.

    Unfortunately, too many mothers struggle to actually implement it.

    Most moms actually often use baby-free time to clean the house or shop for baby supplies before forgetting.

    But you shouldn’t miss this golden opportunity to steal some time off.

    Therefore, do not hesitate to ask others for help.

    You can ask for help from your spouse/partner, mother, or hire a household helper to take care of the housework or take care of the baby.

    In addition to not draining your energy out, you can also avoid stress.

    For partners, show your care and love for your wife/partner by helping her take care of the baby, such as changing the baby’s diaper , bathing the baby, and holding the baby.

    The spouse/partner can also accompany the baby when the mother is busy. Also try to spend time listening to your wife’s stories.

    Your partner may want to tell you something to lighten her load.

    Sometimes, new moms have problems breastfeeding and this may be stressful.

    However, just by talking to you, your wife will probably feel a lot calmer.

    4. Have time to exercise

    Mothers who are diligent in exercising after giving birth even before, tend to feel better emotionally and are easier to socialize.

    Even so, do not force yourself to do strenuous exercise.

    Do light exercise by focusing on improving blood flow in the body, such as walking lightly or doing postpartum exercises .

    5. Don’t insist on being the perfect parent

    You may already be planning to be the perfect parent for your little one.

    It may make you feel guilty if you can’t do everything right.

    In fact, you may even assume that other moms do a much better job than you.

    As a result, you impose unrealistic expectations on yourself.

    Well, apart from opening your heart, the best way to prevent the baby blues is to set realistic expectations.

    This is because being a parent is not an easy job and it is hard to predict how your journey will look like. 

    Struggling doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed at being a good parent.

    Remember: each parent’s journey is unique and by focusing on caring for yourself, you can better take care of your little one.



    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Hello Sehat · Updated Jul 04, 2022

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