The transition to motherhood can trigger a mixture of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to stress and anxiety. Many new moms experience postpartum blues after childbirth, which may include fatigue, sleep disturbances, stress, and even anxiety and mood swings. These emotions typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery and usually subside after about two weeks as mother and baby adjust to each other. There are times you may not even know you’re having these feelings or emotions. You might think you feel the way all new moms do. Being tired is normal with a newborn but being sad or hopeless is not. Feeling “blue” does not mean you did anything wrong.
Hormone changes that happen after birth may cause baby blues. After delivery, the amount of the hormones estrogen and progesterone suddenly decreases, causing mood swings. For some people, the hormones made by the thyroid gland may drop sharply, which can make them feel tired and depressed. Not getting enough sleep and not eating well can add to these feelings.
As many as one in 10 women experience a more severe form of emotional distress known as postpartum depression. Typical symptoms include marked changes in sleep, appetite, and energy levels, and feelings of sadness, hopelessness, isolation, and anxiety.
Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness, and women who experience it are not alone. Highly effective treatments are readily available.
We have included a self-assessment scale for postpartum depression. You will also be given one at your 6-week postpartum visit. If you feel that you need someone or are unsure of how you are feeling, we encourage you to complete the EPDS questionnaire. The questionnaire asks about your feelings in the past seven days. If your score adds up to 14 or higher, or if you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, please contact us or go to an emergency room. If you’re suffering from postpartum depression, getting help as soon as possible will help you manage your symptoms and enjoy your baby.
This screening tool may help you determine whether you’re experiencing PPD. Regardless of your score, call your doctor if something doesn’t seem right.
If you’re feeling depressed after your baby’s birth, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to admit it. But if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, call your doctor and schedule an appointment. If you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum psychosis (breaks with reality, hallucinations, hearing voices, thoughts of harming yourself or your baby), get help immediately.
It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if the signs and symptoms of depression have any of these features:
- Does not fade after two weeks
- Symptoms are getting worse
- Symptoms make it hard for you to care for your baby
- Symptoms make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Resources to support your self-care at home:
Postpartum Support International (PSI)
Call the PSI HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD) available 24/7 days a week.
- The PSI HelpLine is a toll-free telephone number anyone can call to get basic information, support, and resources.
- The HelpLine is not a crisis hotline and does not handle emergencies.
- The HelpLine messages are returned every day of the week.
- You are welcome to leave a confidential message any time, and one of the HelpLine volunteers will return your call as soon as possible. If you are not able to talk when the volunteer calls you, you can arrange another time to connect. The volunteer will give you information, encouragement, and names of resources near you.
Hoag Maternal Mental Health Program
949-764-5333 Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm
Orange County National Alliance on Mental Illness WarmLine:
877-910-WARM or 714-991-6412
LA County Department of Mental Health WarmLine:
Dial 2-1-1 for resources and information
Call for yourself or someone your care about; free and confidential; network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide; available 24/7
- National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline and website: 1-800-273-8255