Sudden moods swings and tearfulness are symptoms that occur in up to 85% mothers in the first few days after childbirth and are commonly known as the baby blues. In general, they are nothing to worry about.
After delivery, the levels of female hormones estrogen and progesterone drop abruptly. These hormonal changes may affect the mood causing the baby blues. In most cases, the symptoms vanish within 1-2 weeks, after hormonal levels have stabilized.
Postpartum depression is different from baby blues, more severe and lasting. Around 15% of new mothers experience it.
Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression may occur at any time during the first year, most often in the first 4 months after the baby was born. A woman with postpartum depression needs professional help.
Postpartum depression may be triggered by one or more of the following:
– Hormonal changes. Women with postpartum depression may respond more sensibly to the hormonal changes in the postpartum period and while breastfeeding.
– Poor social support. Caring for a newborn and breastfeeding is a 24/7 job and often goes along with sleep deprivation. Mothers are in need of support from their partner, friends, relatives, or other associates. Single mothers and women with financial or housing problems are at higher risk of developing postpartum depression.
– Stressful life events. Partnership conflicts, domestic violence, and the loss of a close family member are a risk factor for depression in general. It may lead to postpartum depression as well.