I have a newborn who I love more than life itself! My daughter is the joy of my life. Still, I feel sad sometimes, and I'm not sure why. What's wrong with me?
The transition from pregnancy to parenthood is a major life adjustment — both physically and emotionally. During your baby's first few days of life, it's normal to feel emotional highs and lows, something commonly referred to as the "baby blues."
With the baby blues, you might feel happy one minute and tearful or overwhelmed the next. You might find yourself feeling angry, sad, irritable, or discouraged. Feeling this way doesn't mean that you're a "bad" mother or that you don't love your baby.
These mood swings are believed to be caused by hormone changes that occur in a woman's body after she gives birth. Levels of estrogen and progesterone needed during pregnancy suddenly drop, causing shifts in mood. Other factors — like fatigue and sleep deprivation, for example — also can contribute to these feelings.
Fortunately, the baby blues usually only last for a few days or weeks, and typically resolve on their own without medical treatment.
If you have a case of the baby blues, try to take care of yourself as much as possible. Eat a healthy diet and get as much rest as you can, especially since exhaustion and sleep deprivation can reinforce and fuel feelings of sadness.
Here are some other things that can help you feel better:
- Accept help, especially in the first days and weeks after labor and delivery.
- Let family and friends help with errands, food shopping, household chores, or childcare.
- Let someone prepare a meal or watch your baby while you relax with a shower, bath, or a nap.
- Get plenty of rest and eat nutritious foods.
- Talk to loved ones or other new mothers who can help you feel supported and remind you that you're not alone.
If the baby blues last longer than a week or two, or if symptoms become worse, talk to your doctor to discuss whether postpartum depression may be the cause of your emotional lows.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD, and Vanessa Ann Vigilante, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2011