Post Partum Depression vs Baby Blues

Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression: What is the difference

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Do you have the Baby Blues?

Prior to giving birth, many women are familiar with the term “baby blues.” Many mothers completely underestimate the experience of what the baby blues really is.  Baby blues is often thought of as the period after giving birth where mothers are sleep deprived, but happy and closely bonding to their babies.  Mothers often are not ready for the period of depression, exhaustion, and moodiness that actually occurs.  The common thought of mothers is, “no one told me the baby blues would be like this!”

It is normal during the baby blues phase to love your child, but not like him or her.  Mothers are frequently tired and felt like they are functioning in autopilot.  Others are fearful of messing up, whatever that means!  This is also the period when many breastfeeding mothers start to question if they are capable or able to breastfeed their baby.

Luckily the baby blues period lasts about two weeks.  After this time, you will should feel more comfortable with your new daily routine. Women often described feeling less emotional and a little more confident in their role as a new mom.

Mothers are often not prepared about what to expect during the baby blues phase.  Medical professionals will ask simple questions or give questionnaires, but are not fully educating new mothers about what to expect during this period. It is important that new mothers and those supporting new mothers are familiar with the baby blues phase.

Knowing the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression and when to seek out help can ease some of the stress that new moms experience.  Family and friends can also help to better support new mothers during the baby blues phase.

What are baby blues?

According to webmd,  the baby blues are short term dips in a mother’s mood caused by hormonal changes and other changes women experience after birth.  Up to 80% of women report experiencing changes in their mood during the first couple of weeks after giving birth.

What are the symptoms of the baby blues?

Symptoms of baby blues include:

  • Quick mood changes.
    • This can be the new mom who goes from appearing normal to suddenly crying for no apparent reason.
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Increased sadness/feeling depressed
  • Problems sleeping
  • Increased anxiety
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
    • This can also lead to a mother not eating or taking care of herself.
  • Poor concentration

How Long do the Baby Blues Last?

Symptoms of baby blues can start a few days after giving birth and can last for 1-2 weeks.

What is Postpartum Depression and how is it Different than Baby Blues?

If baby blues symptoms persist for longer than a couple of weeks or appear to worsen, then you may be dealing with postpartum depression.  Postpartum depression occurs in about 10% of women.  A mother is more likely to be diagnosed with postpartum depression if she has a history of being diagnosed with a depressive disorder or if there is a family history of depressive disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?

Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or worthless a lot of the time.
  • Feeling alone and inadequate as a new mother.
  • Increased crying.
  • Feeling like you are not bonding to your baby.
  • Poor eating or sleeping; or increased eating or sleeping.
  • No longer having any interests in activities you previously enjoyed.
  • Isolating from others.
  • Severe mood swings
  • Not taking care of yourself or your baby
  • Thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or your baby.

What Do I Do if I am Concerned about Postpartum Depression?

If your baby blues symptoms last longer than two weeks, or if they seem more severe, please contact your OBGYN or other healthcare provider to receive appropriate treatment.  Postpartum depression is a serious diagnosis and needs to be treated by appropriate medical professionals.  Postpartum depression is treatable and is not something that you have to go through alone.  Having a new baby comes with many challenges, and it is ok to reach out for help.

How do I Cope with the Symptoms of Baby Blues?

The good thing about baby blues is that it should resolve within two weeks of giving birth.  During this time, it is important to practice good self-care techniques to help you cope with whatever baby blues symptoms you may be having.  The most important thing I learned during this time is that it is ok to ASK FOR HELP!

Take advantage of your partner, family, and friends who offer to help with your baby.  It is normal to deal with the baby blues.  Talk to someone about how you are feeling. You are not a bad mother if you need some help.

Taking a hot shower, going for a short walk, or just simply talking to another adult about a non baby subject can play an important role in shifting your mood.  It is also very important to get in the habit of incorporating self-care into your daily routine to help you long term.

Self-care does not have to be complicated or extravagant.  It can be something as simple as sitting in silence, watching your favorite tv show, deep breathing, or exercising.  It can also include bigger things like massages, hair/nail appointments, or a vacation.

Related Reading: When Mom Wants to Quit

How can others support new mother’s struggling with baby blues?

New mothers are often stuck in autopilot with their new babies.  The baby is attached to them.  Their existence is becomes their baby and it can be a difficult transition for them.  Mothers may not be fully aware that they are in the midst of the baby blues phase.

There is no magical way to help a mother who is dealing with baby blues.  Be a listening ear, take the baby so mom can nap, or offer to wash bottles to give mom a break.  Pay attention to mom’s ques and encourage her to take time for herself.

Some mothers may be resistant to help, but it is important for them to utilize self-care.  Be supportive, but gentle, you don’t want to overwhelm mom.  If you are concerned that a mother may be struggling with postpartum depression, encourage her to seek help from a medical professional.

Having a new baby is an exciting time, but there are struggles and frustrations.  Baby blues is one of them.  It is something many women wished they knew more about prior to giving birth.  Knowing the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression and incorporating daily self-care helps to make this phase a little easier to cope with.

You are not alone on this motherhood journey. Allow us to be a part of your village and help you along the way!

Did you experience the baby blues? What self-care tips helped you survive that phase? 

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2 Comments

  1. It’s so important to bring awareness to PPD and to encourage Moms to seek help! Thanks for outlining BB and PPD so clearly!

    1. Courtney, it’s a subject that is near and dear to our hearts. We want all moms to have access to this type of information. You never know who needs it!

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