Your Mental Health

Having a baby is a big life event, and it's natural to experience a range of emotions and reactions during and after your pregnancy.

But if they start to have a big impact on how you live your life, you might be experiencing a mental health problem.

What’s the difference between the ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression?

The 'baby blues' is a brief period of feeling emotional and tearful around 3 - 10 days after giving birth. It affects about 85% of new mothers. It's natural to feel emotional and overwhelmed after experiencing childbirth and becoming a parent, especially as you're likely to be coping with a lot of new demands on your time and attention, as well as getting little sleep. Although having the baby blues may be distressing, it's important to be aware that it doesn't last long – usually only a few days – and is generally quite manageable.

However, around 10–15% of new mothers develop a much deeper and longer-term depression known as postnatal depression (PND). It usually develops within six weeks of giving birth and can come on gradually or all of a sudden. It can range from being relatively mild to very severe.

What should you do?

It can be really difficult to feel able to talk openly about how you're feeling when you become a new parent. You might feel:

  • pressure to be happy and excited
  • like you have to be on top of everything
  • worried you're a bad parent if you're struggling with your mental health
  • worried that your baby will be taken away from you if you admit how you're feeling

IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO ASK FOR HELP.

Watch some new mothers talking about how they coped with postnatal depression

What are the signs of postnatal depression?

You may experience one or more of the following:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • lack of enjoyment in things that previously made you happy
  • feeling hopeless about the future
  • feeling unable to cope
  • becoming hostile or indifferent to your partner or baby
  • reduced appetite
  • unable to concentrate
  • unable to sleep even when you’re tired
  • finding yourself withdrawing from contact with other people
  • having difficulty bonding with your baby

Where to seek help?

Speak to your GP or health visitor if you think you may be depressed. Many health visitors have been trained to recognise postnatal depression and have techniques that can help. If they can't help, they'll know someone in your area who can.

You can also call the PANDAS foundation, a national charity that specialises in postnatal depression on 0843 28 98 401 or by email

Click here for more information about postnatal depression and perinatal mental health

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