Baby Blues

Baby Blues site

Verified by World Mental Healthcare Association

“Baby blues” is a feeling of moodiness, sadness, and anger that new mothers experience after giving birth. It typically lasts for a brief period of time and goes away on its own.

What Are Baby Blues?

Baby blues is a common, temporary psychological state, predominated by feelings of sadness, which occurs right after childbirth. It is also known as postpartum blues (PPB).

Baby blues after pregnancy is considered normal and last for around 2 weeks during the postpartum period. Sometimes, it lasts for a few hours. The condition is determined by frequent mood swings in a new mother, suddenly feeling:

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Urge to cry for no reason
  • Impatient
  • Irritated
  • Anxious
  • Restless

Baby blues typically arises within a few days of giving birth and if a woman happens to experience a tough delivery, she may experience its symptoms even sooner. According to recent research 1, “postpartum blues is defined as low mood and mild depressive symptoms that are transient and self-limited and are extremely common in the perinatal period.

The postpartum period is a crucial time for new mothers, as this stage 2 is associated with severe physical and emotional changes, resulting in anxiety and mood disturbances and disorders. There are three levels of postpartum mood disorders:

  • Baby blues
  • Postpartum depression (PPD)
  • Postpartum psychosis

However, baby blues is the least severe of the three and does not require any medical treatment, often going away on its own. Joining a group of new mothers or talking with other mothers helps in soothing the symptoms.

However, if the feelings of sadness or anxiousness persist for more than 2 weeks, one must consult the health care provider. In such cases, the new mother may be diagnosed with postpartum depression.

Prevalence Of Baby Blues

According to a 2011 study 3, around 58.5% of women worldwide tend to suffer from baby blues after birth. Research further reveals that 20% of women 4 with baby blues may develop PPD, which can also adversely affect their child’s cognitive development and life experiences.

What Are The Symptoms Of The Baby Blues?

Symptoms Of The Baby Blues
Baby Blues

As mentioned previously, the symptoms of PPB are less severe than that of postpartum depression. Here are the most common baby blues symptoms:

  1. Mood swings
  2. Feeling overwhelmed
  3. Sadness
  4. Anxiety
  5. Anger
  6. Appetite problems
  7. Irritability
  8. Inability to make decisions
  9. Uncontrollable crying over a small issue
  10. Reduced concentration
  11. Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  12. Feeling unattached from the child
  13. Overly worried about the child’s health

Read More About Anger Here

Baby Blues Vs Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Both baby blues and postpartum depression involve mental health problem after childbirth. Although both conditions may have certain similarities, these are not the same. In fact, the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression lies in the severity of the condition and its immediate medical care.

1. How Baby Blues Looks Like

  • Experiencing intense and rapid mood swings from being happy to sad, proud to anxious, and calm to restless
  • Losing appetite
  • Not taking care of one’s self
  • Feeling irritated, overwhelmed, and anxious

2. How Postpartum Depression Looks Like

  • Feeling hopeless, sad, worthless, or isolated all the time,
  • Crying frequently
  • Doubting one’s ability to become a good mother
  • Failing to bond with the baby
  • Experiencing the inability to eat properly
  • Lacking sleep
  • Not properly caring for the baby
  • Frequently feeling anxious
  • Experiencing panic attacks
  • Feeling the urge to harm the baby or commit suicide

Read More About Postpartum Depression Here

What Causes Baby Blues?

The exact causes of baby blues are unknown. One 2005 study 5 elaborates, “the baby blues seems to be a physiological process whereby the intensity is influenced by psychological factors”. Research, however, has confirmed certain factors that may contribute to the development of this syndrome, including:

1. Hormonal changes after pregnancy

After birth, a woman’s body goes through extreme hormonal fluctuations to help her recover and care for her baby. These hormonal changes 6 affect a mother’s state of mind in the postpartum period.

In most cases, chemical changes in the “mom brain” are triggered, thus leading to brain fog and depression. Moreover, major lifestyle changes and inadequate sleep or nutrition can also result in the condition.

2. Gender bias about infants

A 2011 study 7 observed that there is a strong link between demographic and socio-cultural variables and baby blues. Among them, the gender bias of infants is a deeply rooted cultural aspect in economically backward communities.

The study reveals that as high as 69% of baby blue mothers 3 are the ones who had given birth to a female child. This trend is seen mostly in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc.

3. Family’s financial conditions

A notable link was found between family income and baby blue. Nearly 62% 3 of mothers suffering from baby blues belong to the low-income categories and financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

To them, the entry of a new family member into an already economically struggling family creates enormous stress, personal dissatisfaction, and circumstances for domestic violence 8.

4. Dysfunctional families

Baby blues and the mental health of new mothers go hand-in-hand. 71% of new mothers 9 staying with their in-laws or in joint families experience postpartum stress and depressive symptoms.

Also, an unhealthy marital relationship is a prominent risk factor for PPB, causing 91% of cases 3. Lack of emotional and physical support from the family members is also a vital risk factor in baby blues.

5. Other factors

According to studies 10, other factors may also contribute to the development of the condition, including:

  • Unfulfilled parenthood expectations
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Racial or ethnic background
  • Mood fluctuations linked with pregnancy
  • History of mood changes associated with the menstrual cycle
  • History of dysthymia or major depression
  • Family history of postpartum depression
  • Higher volume of lifetime pregnancies
  • History of premenstrual depression
  • Degree of depressive symptoms 11 while pregnant

Factors Not Associated With Baby Blues

It should be noted that baby blues is not necessarily caused by the following factors 12:

  • Spontaneous pregnancy or IVF
  • Type of delivery (cesarean or vaginal)
  • Family history of mood disorders
  • Gravidity status (primiparous or multiparous)

Diagnosis Of Baby Blues

Baby blues is not officially recognized by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a separate diagnosis. However, it is identified as “depressive disorder not otherwise specified” or “adjustment disorder with depressed mood”.

There is also no specifically prescribed “baby blues treatment”. However, if left untreated, baby blues can develop into more severe postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.

Still, thanks to popular clinical practice, it can be diagnosed early 13 on its very onset. For the proper diagnosis of baby blues, it is required that its symptoms should not meet the diagnostic criteria of postpartum depression or major depressive disorder.

One of the most crucial diagnostic criteria of PPB is that the symptoms should develop within 2-3 days after childbirth and must go away within the next 2 weeks.

Women diagnosed with postpartum blues may also be screened carefully 1 to check whether they meet the diagnostic criteria for PPD, anxiety disorders, and/or self-harm or suicide.

But if the depressive symptoms continue even after 2 weeks, it may meet the criteria for postpartum depression. In such cases, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional and seek medical treatment. In extreme cases, the symptoms of psychosis may also be present—indicating the onset of postpartum psychosis.

Tips To Deal With Baby Blues

Beating Baby Blues
Baby Blues

Baby blues is self-restricted and transient. As the condition is temporary and is naturally resolved in 1-2 weeks, it is a less severe condition that subsides without any professional treatment.

However, reassurance, education, validation, and psychosocial support can help in the recovery process 14. Regardless, a regular self-care routine can help mothers fight this condition successfully.

Some helpful self-care ways to overcome baby blues include:

1. Rest

The new mother must take a rest or get enough sleep when the baby is sleeping. During this time, she should not entertain visitors and should also turn off her phone.

2. Body care

The new mother must take good care of her body. She should eat healthily, do gentle exercises, get adequate sleep, and drink plenty of fluids.

3. Spend time outdoor

The new mother should also spend some time outdoors with her baby. She should indulge in strategies like taking walks with the baby, engaging in baby-mother play, etc. This will not only strengthen her motherly bond but also will keep her mentally fresh.

4. Seeking help

The new mother should share her concerns with her family and friends. She should express herself honestly and seek help with household chores and errands and taking care of the baby.

5. Availing support groups

For both new mothers and fathers, it is a wise decision to join a support group and talk to other new parents. This will help you process better your parental experiences. Mingling in such groups also means receiving advice, suggestions, and tips about parenting your newborn better.

How To Help Mothers Manage Baby Blues

If your partner is experiencing baby values, consider the following helpful and effective tips on how to get rid of baby blues:

1. Ask her to share her feelings

Make sure to actively listen to her with patience, without judging or offering solutions. Rather than trying to fix things, simply be her shoulder to lean on.

2. Offer help with household activities

Take up the responsibility with the housework and childcare, even before she asks for the same.

3. Make sure she spends time with herself

Help her to take rest and give her the scope to relax. Urge her to take breaks, hire a doula or a babysitter, or schedule some date nights. Restrict visitors to your house and try to take on parenting at both your and your partner’s own pace.

4. Be patient if she’s not up for physical intimacy

Depression changes sex drive and it may take a while for the new mother to get ready for physical intimacy. Give her physical comfort, without forcing her if she is not ready for sex.

5. Enjoy walks with her

Regular light workout sessions can create a big dent in depression. However, with baby blues, it is hard to get motivated for the same. Help her by making walks a daily ritual for both of you. Indulge in other similar tiny interactive rituals that make both of you feel happy and relaxed.

Takeaway

Welcoming a child and entering into motherhood is a whole new experience in a woman’s life. As much as women look forward to these moments in their lives, having a baby is stressful.

With the change in lifestyle, sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and lack of time for themselves, new mothers are bound to feel the emotional rollercoaster every moment. Baby blues is a common condition that comes to many new parents transitioning into a newer, more responsible life.

Many women feel confused about their emotions and often do not talk about them. However, talking about these emotions, changes, and difficulties is one of the best ways to cope with the condition. Fortunately, the baby blues go away on its own after some time.

Baby Blues At A Glance

  1. “Baby blues” is a feeling of moodiness, sadness, and anger that new mothers experience after giving birth.
  2. Baby blues is the least severe of postpartum mood disorders.
  3. The condition typically lasts for 1 to 2 weeks after delivery.
  4. Baby blues symptoms include mood swings, anger, sadness, impatience, anxiety, and restlessness.
  5. Baby blues is self-restricted and transient.
  6. It can be easily addressed with self-help coping strategies and, in severe cases, therapy and medication.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How long do baby blues last?

Baby blues last up to 2 weeks and usually go away on their own. If they persist beyond the 2-week period, consider seeking medical help.

2. What to say to a mother experiencing baby blues?

If you know someone going through baby blues, be supportive. Make the moment about her and not her baby. Don’t give advice and stop trying to solve her problems. Check on her and ask if she wants to avail medical help. If she does, offer to go to doctor’s appointments with her.

3. Do you get baby blues after your second baby?

Yes, if you had gotten baby blues after your first pregnancy, chances are you can get baby blues again after your second baby.

👇 References:
  1. Balaram K, Marwaha R. Postpartum Blues. [Updated 2022 Mar 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554546/ [][]
  2. Beck C. T. (2003). Postpartum depression predictors inventory–revised. Advances in neonatal care : official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, 3(1), 47–48. https://doi.org/10.1053/adnc.2003.50014 []
  3. Manjunath, N. G., Venkatesh, G., & Rajanna (2011). Postpartum Blue is Common in Socially and Economically Insecure Mothers. Indian journal of community medicine : official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, 36(3), 231–233. https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-0218.86527 [][][][]
  4. Patel, V., Rodrigues, M., & DeSouza, N. (2002). Gender, poverty, and postnatal depression: a study of mothers in Goa, India. The American journal of psychiatry, 159(1), 43–47. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.159.1.43 []
  5. M’baïlara, K., Swendsen, J., Glatigny-Dallay, E., Dallay, D., Roux, D., Sutter, A. L., Demotes-Mainard, J., & Henry, C. (2005). Le baby blues: caractérisation clinique et influence de variables psycho-sociales [Baby blues: characterization and influence of psycho-social factors]. L’Encephale, 31(3), 331–336. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0013-7006(05)82398-x []
  6. Schiller, C., Meltzer-Brody, S., & Rubinow, D. (2015). The role of reproductive hormones in postpartum depression. CNS Spectrums, 20(1), 48-59. doi:10.1017/S1092852914000480 []
  7. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Assessing Interactions Among Social, Behavioral, and Genetic Factors in Health; Hernandez LM, Blazer DG, editors. Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. 2, The Impact of Social and Cultural Environment on Health. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19924/ []
  8. Bhandari, S., Bullock, L. F., Anderson, K. M., Danis, F. S., & Sharps, P. W. (2011). Pregnancy and intimate partner violence: how do rural, low-income women cope?. Health care for women international, 32(9), 833–854. https://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2011.585532 []
  9. Peng, S., Lai, X., Qiu, J., Du, Y., Yang, J., Bai, Y., Jia, Y., Meng, L., Wang, K., & Zhang, X. (2021). Living With Parents-In-Law Increased the Risk of Postpartum Depression in Chinese Women. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 736306. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.736306 []
  10. Bloch, M., Rotenberg, N., Koren, D., & Klein, E. (2005). Risk factors associated with the development of postpartum mood disorders. Journal of affective disorders, 88(1), 9–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2005.04.007 []
  11. O’Hara, M. W., & Wisner, K. L. (2014). Perinatal mental illness: definition, description and aetiology. Best practice & research. Clinical obstetrics & gynaecology, 28(1), 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2013.09.002 []
  12. Howard, L. M., Molyneaux, E., Dennis, C. L., Rochat, T., Stein, A., & Milgrom, J. (2014). Non-psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period. Lancet (London, England), 384(9956), 1775–1788. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61276-9 []
  13. Rai, S., Pathak, A., & Sharma, I. (2015). Postpartum psychiatric disorders: Early diagnosis and management. Indian journal of psychiatry, 57(Suppl 2), S216–S221. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.161481 []
  14. Seyfried, L. S., & Marcus, S. M. (2003). Postpartum mood disorders. International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 15(3), 231–242. https://doi.org/10.1080/0954026031000136857 []
Up Next

Pet Therapy

pet therapy

Pet therapy refers to the use of animals as aides in the treatment of mental and physical disorders. It usually involves a guided interaction between a patient and a trained “therapy animal”.

What Is Pet Therapy?

Pet ther


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Compulsive Buying Disorder

compulsive buying

Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is an obsession with shopping. Alternatively known as shopaholism or shopping addiction, this condition involves a problematic buying behavior that causes adverse consequences.

What Is Compulsive Buying Disorder?


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimers disease site

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive type of dementia which leads to a decline in thinking, memory, behavior and daily social & occupational functioning. It mostly affects people over the age of 65.

What Is Alzheimer's Disease (AD)?


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Anger

What Is Anger

Anger is a natural, sometimes irrational, human emotion typically triggered by psychological, emotional, or physical pain. It can be characterized by a feeling or desire to lash out verbally or physically.

What Is Anger?


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
Up Next

Communication Disorders

Communication Disorders

Communication Disorder is a disorder characterized by the inability to comprehend, send, process, or understand concepts while communicating with others. They usually find it extremely difficult to express themselves through language and speech and have an impaired ability to hear and comprehend messages.


READ FULL ARTICLE ⇲
7 Frustrating Things About Living With BPD Black Friday: Is It Triggering Impulsive Buying? The Healing Power Of Music Therapy This Is Not Autism Method Acting And How Its Psychological Toll Runs Deep What You Want To Hear And What You Need To Hear Matthew Perry Opens Up About His Tough Struggle With Addiction What Are The Manipulation Techniques? 5 Honest Parenting Truths For You To Save Do Horror Movies Negatively Impact Our Mental Health? 7 Ways To Overcome Sleeplessness Signs of Depression in Men, Women, and Teens