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The journey of becoming a parent can be filled with a wide range of feelings, from excitement and joy to feeling incredibly tired, stressed and worried. 

You may experience lots of ups and downs as you go through fertility challenges, loss or miscarriage, pregnancy, childbirth and looking after a newborn baby.  

This link offers guidance around mental wellbeing through these different stages of parenthood.

What are the baby blues?

Baby blues usually happen within the first few days after of having a baby, and can last for around two weeks. You will be coping with lots of new things with little sleep, so it is natural to feel overwhelmed and emotional.

What baby blues might look like:

  • Changes in your emotions – ups and downs

  • Tearful and crying (not always with a clear reason)

  • Feeling worried or sad

  • Not able to rest or relax (restlessness) and trouble sleeping

  • Things feel like they are too much to manage or cope with (feeling overwhelmed)

  • Hard to focus or concentrate

  • Changes in your eating

What is the difference between baby blues and postnatal depression?

‘Baby blues’ tend to last no more than two weeks, and it can generally feel manageable.

Postnatal depression is a type of depression (low mood) that many parents experience after having a baby. It’s very common. It can also affect fathers and partners.

It usually starts within 6 weeks of giving birth. It can range from being mild to very severe. Many women may not realise they have postnatal depression because it can develop gradually.

Signs of postnatal depression

  • Having low mood or sadness a lot of the time

  • Losing interest or enjoyment in things

  • Feeling tired and low on energy all the time

  • Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day

  • Finding it difficult to look after yourself and your baby

  • Withdrawing or not wanting to have contact with other people

  • Problems concentrating and making decisions

  • Having frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby, hurting yourself or not wanting to be here anymore.

What can I do about postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and treatments are available (including talk therapy and medication). It’s important to get help as soon as possible. Speak to your GP or midwife about this.

There are also some things you can try to help you feel better such as:

  • Talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help

  • Making time for yourself to do things you enjoy

  • Resting whenever you get the chance, getting as much sleep as you can at night

  • Regular exercise or movement and eating a balanced diet. You can find more tips on our Wellbeing Tips page

Remember that:

  • a range of help and support is available, including talk therapy

  • depression is an illness like any other

  • it's not your fault you're depressed – it can happen to anyone. Be kind to yourself.

  • being depressed does not mean you're a bad parent

  • it does not mean you're going mad

  • your baby will not be taken away from you – babies are only taken into care in very exceptional circumstances