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Feeling depressed after childbirth

Adapting to hormonal change after birth and learning how to care for a newborn can affect your mood.

You might feel down or low. You may have mood swings and be more tearful than usual. These mood swings are normal.

It is very common to have negative thoughts, even if you are very happy with your new baby.

Most women will have the 'baby blues' after giving birth. It usually begins on day 3 after the birth.

Signs of the baby blues include feeling:

  • tearful
  • emotional
  • irritable
  • isolated
  • vulnerable
  • lonely

Find out more about the baby blues

When to get help

The baby blues usually pass within 1 to 2 weeks.

Non-urgent advice: Contact your midwife, public health nurse (PHN) or GP if:

  • the baby blues do not pass after 2 weeks

They can check if you have postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a common condition that some women experience after giving birth. Out of every 100 people who give birth, about 10 or 15 will get postnatal depression.

Symptoms can include extreme sadness and a sense of detachment from your baby.

Talk to your midwife or GP if you have any of these symptoms or are worried about anything.

Find out more about postnatal depression

Getting help

Most of the emotional changes after childbirth will improve once your hormone levels return to their normal pre-pregnancy levels. So you will feel like "you" again.

Never be afraid to get help if you need it. Getting support from your partner (if you have one), family and friends can really help.

If you are more unwell you might need help from your GP, your PHN or your midwife. For a small number of people with severe postnatal depression, care and treatment from a mental health service is needed. Help is available.

By getting help you are doing what is best for yourself and your baby. Doctors, midwives and PHNs will help you get the care you need.

Perinatal mental health services

Perinatal mental health services are available in all maternity units and hospitals. They provide specialist support to women experiencing mental health problems in pregnancy. Your GP, midwife, doctor or psychiatrist can refer you to the service.

Page last reviewed: 2 February 2023
Next review due: 2 February 2026