There is hope

Iowa's Perinatal Depression Project


  About baby blues

  About postpartum depression

  About postpartum psychosis

  What causes perintal depression
   and who is at risk?

  What help is available?  

  Facts & myths

  Resources for children

  Downloadable materials

  Additional resources

Baby Blues  
"When I found out I was pregnant I was so happy and I couldn't wait until my baby was born. But now I don't feel like I thought I would. Why do I feel so sad?"

Many new mothers experience the baby blues. It is a common feeling during the first few days after you deliver. As many as 50 to 80 percent of all new mothers have the baby blues.

Symptoms of baby blues include:

  • Crying, even over little things
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Confusion
  • Sadness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feeling "I"m not myself, this isn't me"

The "blues" usually begin in the first week after birth. The blues don't require treatment and usually go away within 10 days to two weeks. Here are some suggestions to help you get through this time:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Get help with cooking and household chores from family and friends
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Make time each day to do something you enjoy
  • Join a support group for new moms
  • Most important, don't try and be a "super mom"

If the blues do continue or seem to get worse, you should call your doctor to see if you have "postpartum depression."

Postpartum Depression  

Depressed woman in bed

"I feel like when I look at my baby, she is a stranger. I know I am supposed to love her, but I don't feel anything. I should feel happy, but I'm sad."

Postpartum depression - It's more than the baby blues. Postpartum depression shares the same symptoms of the baby blues, including crying frequently, mood swings, and irritability. You may have postpartum depression if these feelings don't go away after two weeks, and become more severe. Unlike baby blues, if you have postpartum depression you need to see your doctor.

Postpartum depression affects 18 out of every 100 women who give birth and can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth. Postpartum depression can make you feel anxious, tired or worthless. Some new moms worry they may hurt themselves or their baby. Other symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Not wanting to take care of yourself (shower, fix hair, get dressed)
  • Worrying too much about your baby
  • Feeling hopeless

Postpartum depression affects your well-being, including your ability to take care of yourself and your baby. This does not mean you're a bad mother. Postpartum depression is a medical condition. It is not your fault and you are not a bad mother. Untreated depression affects your whole family. Even your baby can be affected. Don't ignore your feelings, talk with your doctor or other health care provider and get help.

Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Postpartum psychosis is a mental health disorder and is most often associated with bi-polar disorder or other mental health conditions. It is serious and requires immediate medical attention. Postpartum psychosis is rare, only 1 out of 1,000 women who give birth will develop this condition. Symptoms usually appear within the first few days to a month after delivery, but can occur at any time during the first year.

Symptoms may include:

  • Hallucinations (seeing things that aren't there/hearing voices when no one is around)
  • Delusions (viewing things differently than they really are)
  • Disorganized and irrational thinking
  • Insomnia (can't sleep)
  • Hyperactivity (can't sit still)
  • Refusing to eat
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feel guilt or shame about the disturbing thoughts you are having

If you feel you may harm yourself or your baby, you or a friend or family member should call 911.

Postpartum psychosis is usually treated with medications, typically antipsychotic drugs and sometimes antidepressants, antianxiety drugs and/or mood stabiliizers. Many woman can also benefit from psychological counseling and support group therapy. Most women, with adequate medical care, are able to recover from this disorder.

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Iowa Department
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Funding for this project was provided by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.