Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


Coping with the Baby Blues


How to manage emotions after the birth, and when to get help

By Lora Shinn


Though tears and feelings of sadness and disappointment might not be what you were expecting postpartum, it turns out the baby blues are common — experienced by an estimated 80% of new moms. That doesn’t make dealing with them easy, though.

While the symptoms of the baby blues will pass on their own in another week or so (around 3 weeks postpartum), here are some other right-now relief strategies to get you through.


Accentuate the Positive

“In the first few weeks postpartum, avoid things and people that make you feel bad,” says Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW, co-author of This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression, and founder of The Postpartum Stress Center, LLC, which has locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This may include alcohol, caffeine, junk food and lack of sleep.

 “Make a point to be with people who help you feel good,” she recommends. Seek support where you know you can find it. It’s OK to tell well-wishers you need time as a family to adjust to your new reality, and have visits with only those close to you.


Get Some Exercise

You don’t need to hit the gym or go for a 5-mile run. In fact, your body may not be ready for serious exercise until 6 weeks after delivery, once you've had your postpartum check-up. Until then, just enjoy a short daily walk for a boost of feel-good energy. If you’ve had a C-section, while you’ll be advised not to drive for a week or two post-surgery, you’ll be encouraged to get up and walk the very next day after your operation. Once home, keep it to a gentle, brief stroll and you’ll be safe. Use baby’s stroller for moderate support as you walk. The fresh air will be good for both of you.


Sleep When the Baby Sleeps

Sleep deprivation can be a psychological depressor all on its own. So sleep, even if it’s in the middle of the morning or the late afternoon. If you don’t get the rest you need to really feel better after the birth, you could develop exhaustion, which can contribute to a more serious condition called postpartum depression, or PPD, a few weeks down the road, according to the National Institutes of Health. If sleeping during baby’s naps is tough for you, plan ahead to hand her off to another caregiver while you get some extra shut-eye.


Find the Funny

Laughter and smiling increase endorphins, Kleiman says. Invite a funny friend over for an honest chat, knowing she’ll make you laugh. Listen to a favorite comedian or watch a funny show. Or, try Kleiman’s tip for a solo mood boost, supported by research: Even if you don’t feel it, tilt the sides of your mouth upwards into a smile. The movement can tease the brain to interpret this as you feeling good and translate this into positive emotions and good feelings. Act as if you feel great and, soon, you just might.


Eat Well

Although it isn’t easy to reach for carrots instead of carrot cake, look for foods that stabilize blood sugar, such as vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates like whole-grain foods. Blood sugar swings can mimic anxiety, Kleiman says. Stock up on healthy snacks you can eat one-handed while holding your baby, like string cheese and yogurt cups.


Take a Moment of Zen

When you’re hit by anxiety or sadness, stop for a minute and inhale. Breathe in low and deep, and remember that this is a passing state. It really will be over very soon.

When you feel overwhelmed during the baby blues, Kleiman suggests using the acronym S.E.L.F. (as in take care of your “self”) to remind you what to do. Similar to how you’ll check in on baby’s needs to soothe his cries (Is he wet? Is he hungry? Is he tired?), check in with yourself and fulfill one or more of your following needs: Sleep, Exercise, Laughter, or Food.

Call your ob/gyn if symptoms that felt like the initial baby blues — weepiness, irritability, anxiety or mood swings — are still around after your third week postpartum, or if they get worse or intensify. Crying is normal during the first few weeks after delivery, but if you find yourself crying all day or so intensely that you can’t do daily tasks, it’s time to get help, as your blues could have morphed into something more serious.


Published July 1, 2015.


Lora Shinn is a freelance writer in Los Angeles, CA. Her work has appeared on and, as well as in Pregnancy magazine.

Reviewed by Susan Spencer, MSN, RNC, IBCLC on June 5, 2015.
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