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Baby Blues

What are the baby blues?  The term Baby Blues is used to describe mood swings that occur in the first several weeks after giving birth to baby.  This is not considered a mood or anxiety disorder, and should be resolved by three weeks postpartum.  About 80% of mothers experience Baby Blues.

Symptoms of baby blues include: moodiness, crying, sadness, worry, lack of concentration, forgetfulness and feelings of dependency.

Contributing factors:  There are many causes that can contribute to experiencing baby blues.  Some factors include: hormonal shifts, the physical and emotional stress of birth, adjustment to having sole responsibility over someone else, fear regarding increased responsibility, sleep deprivation, and disappointments including birth, partner support and nursing.

Treatment:  While baby blues should resolve within a few weeks, the struggle to cope with this can be very overwhelming for many mothers. It is important for mothers to receive adequate social support and/or professional support in order to feel nurtured during the adjustment to motherhood. Some ways to help cope with baby blues include: receiving adequate sleep, getting emotional and practical support, prioritizing proper nutrition, and engaging in social support via other new moms. If these interventions do not seem to help with what a mother is currently experiencing, it could be beneficial to receive help from a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in Maternal Mental Health.

Support Links:  Some helpful ideas for new mamas to get help during this adjustment period include:  joining a local Mommy and Me class, signing up for local Mom Facebook groups, checking out Postpartum Support International for mental health resources, or checking out local postpartum support groups. All of these resources can be incredibly helpful and empowering.

Emma Bennett is a licensed psychotherapist, LCSW #79627. Emma graduated with a BS in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo in 2009, and received her Master In Social Work from University of Southern California in 2012. She is an active member of Postpartum Support International, and a student of the Postpartum Action Institute.

Source for baby blues symptoms and definition: Bennett, S.S. & Indman, P. (2015) Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression & Anxiety.  San Francisco, CA: Untreed Reeds, LLC.)