Postnatal depression, also called postpartum depression is a type of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth.

Symptoms include sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, and irritability.

People suffering from postnatal depression can become socially withdrawn, can experience panic attacks and anxiety.

Many women feel as though they are overwhelmed and feel inadequate in caring for their baby.

Those experiencing postnatal depression cannot move beyond these feelings and they may last for years.

What are The Baby Blues?

Many women feel teary, anxious and fatigued in the days immediately following the birth of a baby.

They may feel they have poor concentration and insomnia. Some feel sad.

The symptoms may occur for a few minutes or at times over a few days. Baby Blues generally resolves in about the first fourteen days.

How Common is Postnatal Depression or Baby Blues?

Postnatal Depression affects almost 16% of first time mothers in Australia (Beyond Blue, 2009)

Baby Blues affects up to 80% of women.

What causes Postnatal Depression or baby Blues?

The exact cause is unknown but the most likely reason is the vast changes in hormone levels after a baby is born.

These hormones may produce chemical changes in the brain. For most new parents, dealing with the incredible life changes as well as lack of sleep, can lead to these experiences.

Although a number of risk factors have been identified, the causes of postnatal depression are not well understood. There may be some associated life experiences and family history.

How can you take care of yourself?

Taking care of mum is the best way to decrease the symptoms of the “baby blues.”

There are several different things which can help:

  • Talk with someone that you trust about how you are feeling
  • Eat well. It can often be difficult to find the time to eat at all but it is so important for your physical and mental health to choose healthy foods. Including protein at lunch time can help to sustain your energy throughout a busy afternoon.
  • Keep a journal of all your thoughts and feelings.
  • Go outside to enjoy some fresh air. Try to take a walk every day. Sometimes just a different view for a few moments can make a huge difference.
  • Ask for help.
  • Expect that your life will change.
  • Don’t expect to do everything perfectly straight away. It takes time to get to know your baby and to establish a routine.

It is important to remember that you are not alone in your feelings.

If your symptoms last longer than fourteen days it could be an indication of a more serious condition, such as postpartum depression. Please consult your Early Childhood Nurse or doctor as soon as possible.

Remember they are very experienced at speaking with women and can support you and direct you for further assistance.  Poor Maternal Mental Health impacts on emotional, cognitive and social development of a child.

It is very important to look after your own health so that you can be the best parent you can be.

Some more valuable information and where to go for help can also be found at the Gidget Foundation.

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  • I got this depression really bad until the birth of my next child!


  • Thanks for sharing this article; a thoughtful read.

    • yep thanks kerry for sharing this article


  • I struggled with depression before and after my children.


  • Unfortunately I had PND after both my babies were born. The first bout went undiagnosed-I knew there was something wrong, but I would make jokes about it as I really didn’t believe that anyone was going to take me seriously-and they didn’t! In all honesty, I think I’ve suffered from intermittent bouts of depression most of teen and adult life (the doctor diagnosed this as dysmorphic depression). However, after the birth of my second child, things got a bit more serious. During this time we sold our house, bought a block of land, my husband lost his job, we moved, husband got a new job that involved being away for every week or two for almost 2 years,parents moved (not that they were in my life day to day, but it was now a 6 hour trip to see them intead of an hour), first child started school, we moved into new house and baby was a handful! There just came a point where I realised I was a mess, it was to the point where I couldn’t go a day without crying, everything was just too much. There was a lot of guilt. I had a good life and I felt terrible that I was so unhappy when I seemed to have so much to be happy about. I finally got myself to the doctor and spent the whole appointment in tears! It was finally obvious to somebody what was going on…such a shame though that it had to get so bad before somebody realised what was going on. She did put me on some medication, but I found that it didn’t really stop the depression, it just masked it…I still ‘felt’ terrible, I just couldn’t express it….however, it also felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I was quite simply exhausted from trying to mask this horrible thing. I did see someone for help and it did help…a bit, but most of the work since I’ve done on my own as I never felt comfortable enough with the people I spoke with unfortunately. (In all honesty, there was one psychologist I saw, who afterwards I told my husband I thought needed help more than I did as she spent the entire session complaining about her ex husband at any opportunity and then had the gaul to go overtime and charge me $250!!) I did tell a few close people in my life about what was going on-some of them said they were shocked because I always had a smile on my face, a joke, I was the happy one-and it’s true, this is partly who I am-but I was also very angry and often for reasons I couldn’t even explain (I now realise when I start feeling this way that I need to take note and be aware of what’s REALLY going on inside, what’s really bothering me-am I angry at somebody or something or am I feeling out of control?) A relative (who will remain nameless) told me – among other things, that there is no such thing as depression and even to this day refers to (what I now believe was essentially a breakdown) as ‘my little episode’. My advice to anyone who is feeling this way now is to seek out help-I was waiting for someone to notice, for somebody to take my hand and say ‘I care’, ‘I will help you’, but no-one around me had a clue. It is difficult listening to a lot of the chatter that goes on and things like ‘r u ok day’ etc. because these things become buzz activities, like saying ‘how are you’ when we aren’t really waiting or even wanting an answer. And in all honesty, those of us that suffer often suffer in silencet because we don’t want attention….we want to hide, we want to be alone, we don’t want the world to see what’s wrong-because we can’t explain it oruselves. That we are unhappy-for no reason, that our perfect lives don’t provide perfect happiness, that our thoughts don’t always marry with out emotions and trying to justify all this to people who don’t get it, is quite simply exhausting. That we aren’t whingers, we just have difficulty coping at times, and yet, we are often the ones who will push and fight and work the hardest to get things done and help others, but can find nobody around when we are fighting our own battles. For me, I have come to the point where I think it is inherently who I am – my PND was some of my worst depression, but no means my first and certainly not my last. But now I am a little kinder to myself. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone anymore, I am good enough – whether things are perfect or not. I have days where I battle my head and they are tiring days, but I’ve given myself permission to just be and if other people don’t like it, well I’ve spent too long trying to be what others want, now I just worry about what I need to do for me to be well. As for my kids….I’ve tried hard to be what they need in a parent and reckon I do a pretty good job. I never gave myself permission to lie in bed all day or live in a dirty house (quite the opposite really) and if anyone has been neglected over the years then it would be me, not them-not that that is ok, but i simply refused to lay down and let this thing beat me-though God knows there were many, many days I wanted to! Hubby has learned to accept that this is just part of who I am – it isn’t who I am – it’s just part of me.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story. It really helps raise awareness to hear individual’s experiences. It’s good to hear that you’re kinder to yourself too :)

      • What a brave person you are to share your story. Living with PND can be one of the loneliest places to be. People often don’t understand and sadly it can be those closest to us who are not able to support us.Taking it one step at a time is a cliche often over used but I do believe with PND it really applies. Keep going……

      • thank you for sharing your story – very brave and much appreciated


  • When I had my first child my Doctor told me prior to her birth that if I felt depressed or as if i couldnt cope after her birth that I was to tell him straight away…he was insistent that it was very important. Thankfully I didnt battle with that but it would have been great that if i had he had already paved the way for me to talk to him.


  • a well written article


  • so sad that our hormones can make such a beautiful time in our lives so miserable

    • Never truer words spoken!

      • Hormones and lack of sleep make a pretty powerful cocktail for new mums to take. We really do need to support each other.


  • It is so important that people talk about PND to remove the stigma associated with it. My husband was first diagnosed with PND after he ran his work car off the road (he was unhurt, thankfully). He realised something was wrong and we both went to the GP. I was shocked when he was diagnosed, as he was my rock and I now needed to not only worry about my child, but my husband too. Thankfully, he responded to medication immediately. He then was able to observe me and realise that I was suffering PND also. We’d had a troubled pregnancy, birth and post-birth, and first year, and therefore didn’t recognise any of the signs. My PND lasted a bit longer but with meds, was sorted fairly quickly. It took me until my son turned one to really enjoy my child.


  • Thank you for such an informative read!


  • Great article and signs we all should look out for in new mums.

    • Thank you . Yes,becoming a parent can be such a stressful time for some. It is so important for us to show support for each other, particularly new mothers.


  • It is so important for new mums to talk to others about how they feel.

    This helps so much.

    • Sharing a coffee with a friend or chatting like this is so beneficial for new mums. I agree.


  • I still suffer from some of these symptoms but I have always just put it down to fatigue, having 1 year old twins. I am more emotional than I have ever been but it’s not a constant thing for me, just seems to be worse when I’ve had a rough night. It’s definitely something to think about but I also don’t want to self-diagnose. Thank you.

    • Asking for support from other mothers and chatting to your health care professional are the first steps to understanding your feelings. If life is not going along the way you think it should be , ask for help. Self awareness rather than self diagnosis is the first step, I agree.


  • I think I may have had baby blues – on the day the hospital said I could take my girls home I cried, I was scared and couldn’t stop crying for hours, I would cry every time I looked at them. I was constantly tired (but I thought who wouldn’t be with newborn twins). My hubby kept telling me I could do it and he wouldn’t want anyone else raising his children and I eventually got better.

    • How wonderful to have the support of your hubby. Parenting is a journey much more enjoyed when shared.Positive comments also play a key role in recovery.


  • I may have had baby blues, but I think it was just garden variety fatigue to be honest. Sleep was definitely the answer.

    • Sleep or lack of sleep is one of the most common issues faced by new parents. Having some help with sorting out your baby’s sleep can be an absolute blessing.All things seem better after a good sleep.


  • A great post from a credible & well experienced writer. Please contribute more to MoMs

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment. What other topics would you like me to discuss?


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