Having a baby is usually thought of as a happy time. However, as a new mother, you may not necessarily feel this straight away.
You may go through a brief period of feeling emotional and tearful – known as the 'Baby Blues'. It usually starts 3-10 days after giving birth and affects around 85% of new mothers. It is so common that it is considered normal. New fathers may also feel it. And, 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 (and possibly up to 20/25%) 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.
Common signs of Postnatal Depression
You may experience one or more of the following symptoms. However, it is unlikely that you will go through all of them.
How you may feel
You may find that you
How to get help
These symptoms can affect your day-to-day life and your relationships with your baby, family and friends. If you think you may be depressed, talk to your GP or health visitor as soon as possible so you can access the support you need. Don't struggle on alone and hope the problem will go away. It can continue for months or years if not addressed. Fathers and partners can also become depressed after the birth of a baby. You should seek help if this is affecting you.
Spotting the signs in others
Postnatal Depression can develop gradually and it can be hard to recognise. Some parents may avoid talking to family and friends about how they’re feeling because they worry they’ll be judged for not coping or not appearing happy.
Signs for partners, family and friends to look out for in new parents include:
If you think someone you know is depressed, encourage them to talk about their feelings to you, a friend, their GP or their health visitor.