Pregnancy Information Center

Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources


The Baby Blues: Signs and Symptoms


Don’t worry, feeling down after delivery is normal. Here’s what to expect 

By Lora Shinn


You probably daydreamed about the early days with baby — spending gentle, sunlit mornings gazing into her eyes and cradling her in your arms, awash in love and happiness. But bursting into tears without reason? Feeling gloomy and exhausted? Now that’s something you didn’t expect.  

If things aren’t going quite the way you imagined, it’s OK. These down days, also known as “the baby blues,” are surprisingly typical after you’ve welcomed your sweet little one into the world. In the first one to three weeks postpartum, you may experience mild mood swings, along with anxiety, nervousness, loss, irritability, crying, and problems eating, sleeping and concentrating, 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.


What’s Going On?

Doctors aren’t exactly sure why baby blues affect women, and sometimes differently. Post-pregnancy, your body experiences a rapid drop in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which coincides with baby-related fatigue and other factors out of your control. It’s essentially like a giant helping of PMS. Some studies have shown an association (not cause and effect) between a stress hormone released by the placenta and postpartum depression, a more serious condition that comes on a few weeks later, and only in about 15% of women. The relationship between this stress hormone and the baby blues hasn’t been researched.


Am I Normal?

Absolutely. The baby blues are so common that up to 80% of women go through them. That means most women who deliver a child have an early period of feeling low.

Lack of social support, an absentee or non-supportive partner or family, or a previous history of depression or anxiety can make the baby blues feel worse, Kleiman notes. For example, if your mother-in-law is staying with you, but expects to be waited on instead of helping out, it could worsen your baby blues. It might be worth it to get her a hotel room.


How Long Will the Baby Blues Last?

The baby blues should subside on their own within three weeks of delivery, as your hormone levels stabilize and your body readjusts, Kleiman says. When this happens, the clouds should part, leaving you and baby in a sunnier place emotionally.


Published on June 24, 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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