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    Postpartum psychosis: How to spot the symptoms and what to do next

    Updated 16 April 2024 |
    Published 23 November 2018
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Margaret Howard, PhD, Professor of psychiatry, Brown University, Rhode Island, US
    Written by Rhalou Allerhand
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Postpartum psychosis is a mental health emergency that affects a small number of women after giving birth. Here’s how to recognize it and get help.

    It’s no secret that having a baby is a huge life change that can turn your world upside down. Thanks to hormonal changes, broken sleep, and the responsibility of caring for a newborn, the first few weeks after birth can be a challenging time for new parents. 

    These first weeks after you’ve given birth are called the postpartum period. There’s currently some discussion about how long the postpartum period should be defined. It’s often considered to be the first six to eight weeks after you’ve given birth. However, pregnancy and birth can impact everyone’s bodies differently. This is why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers the postpartum period to extend up to 12 weeks after birth. You might have heard this time referred to as the fourth trimester.

    A small percentage of new moms will experience a form of mental illness after giving birth that requires urgent medical attention. If you or your loved ones notice that your moods become erratic or extreme, you have less need for sleep and don’t feel tired, you start to have thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true, or you see or hear things that don’t exist outside of your mind, you might have postpartum psychosis.