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Question

Is it normal to feel completely overwhelmed after having a baby?

Gerri L. Mattson, MD, MSPH, FAAP

Answer

If you are feeling swamped and tired after giving birth, that is more common than you might think. You may be learning to cope with less sleep, eating on the run, breastfeeding, new family dynamics, and less intimacy with your partner. You might be feeling sad or anxious for no reason since having your baby but not often. At times you may feel like you are just going through the motions of your day. If you are always feeling really sad, anxious or hopeless, and it's hard to get through your day, those may be signs of postpartum depression.

You can get help by talking to your pediatrician during your baby's visit or call their office. You're not supposed to go through this alone. Building a support team is key to help you to be the best parent you can be. Your provider and your child's pediatrician are important members of your team. The way to be a good parent is to get any needed extra help right now so that you are not feeling this way.

Isn't it just "baby blues"?

Postpartum depression is more intense than "baby blues," which lasts about two weeks. Postpartum depression lasts longer, up to a year after the baby is born. You can feel able to enjoy your baby, your life, and sleep when you can during the infant's first year. It is not okay to feel worried or anxious for no good reason and sad or miserable most days. It is important to talk to your pediatrician about how you are feeling during your baby's visit or call their office.

Is this really a priority?

Yes. The way you feel affects your whole family. Untreated depression can affect how you bond with and care for your baby. A healthy baby needs a healthy you. You are important too!

Shouldn't I just tough it out?

Parenting is hard and everyone needs help sometimes. Spending a little time taking care of yourself now will help you and your baby for a lifetime. Untreated depression can be stressful for the baby and may slow their brain growth and language development.

Do other people feel like this?

It's common to struggle, and many people can feel depressed or anxious at times more than two weeks after giving birth. COVID-19 has made this an extra lonely and anxious time for everyone, especially pregnant people and new parents. However, it is not okay to always feel this way and cope with these strong feelings alone.

It is never okay for you to have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. If you ever have these thoughts, you need to call the suicide lifeline 1-800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.

How can I get help?

Talk to your pediatrician about your sad or worry feelings during your baby's next checkup or call to schedule a visit if it is not for a few weeks. Your pediatrician wants to know and can help you find resources for you and your baby to be able to feel happier, enjoy each other and grow. In some cases, you may need medication that another doctor will prescribe. It is important to know that there are medications which are safe to use while breastfeeding. Talk to your pediatrician and the prescribing provider about which medications are right for your breastfeeding goals and mental health status. SeeMedication Safety Tips for the Breastfeeding Mom for more information.


Still have questions?

Talk to your pediatrician. We are here to help you, your baby and your family thrive. You can also call Postpartum Support International 1-800-944-4773.

Remember

Your pediatrician is also a wonderful resource who is there to answer your questions.

You can also get help when it's needed, by calling or texting the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (1-833-943-5746).

TTY Users can use a preferred relay service or dial 711 and then 1-833-943-5746.

More Information

This resource is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $500,000 with 100 percent funding by the CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by the CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Gerri L. Mattson, MD, MSPH, FAAP

Dr. Mattson has served in several key roles in state and national efforts related to perinatal health, early childhood, mental health, immunizations, children with special health care needs, and social determinants of health. She completed an internship and residency in pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine. Dr. Mattson has maintained her clinical skills which has given her the opportunity to practice medicine for more than 20 years in a variety of pediatric health care settings including the Indian Health Service, a rural pediatric practice, military base, and currently at a local county health department. She serves as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Maternal and Child Health in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health where she received a Master of Science in Public Health. Dr. Mattson is a co-author on the American Academy of Pediatrics perinatal depression policy: Incorporating Recognition and Management of Perinatal Depression Into Pediatric Practice.​

Last Updated
10/19/2022
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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