What Are the Baby Blues?

Plus, how is it different from postpartum depression?

person feeding their baby

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What Does the Term 'Baby Blues' Mean?

Baby Blues

The term “baby blues” refers to the emotional mood swings many mothers experience in the first two weeks of postpartum. Feelings of anxiousness, disappointment, sadness, restlessness, and uncertainty are all indicative of baby blues.

This brief period of low mood is extremely common; it’s estimated that up to 85% of new mothers experience the baby blues. In some cases, these feelings may begin to occur shortly before birth, as well.

Men Experience Baby Blues Too

While mothers are more likely to experience baby blues due to the abrupt hormonal shifts and the physical upheaval of birthing and breastfeeding, roughly 10% of fathers also experience baby blues due to the abrupt shift into parenthood.

What Causes Baby Blues?

Baby blues are caused by hormonal shifts and entry into the world of parenthood, which is stressful in its own right. The physical changes and emotional toll is extreme, and can cause quite a bit of unease and distress as you figure out how to navigate your new world.  

Rachel J. Dalthorp, MD, psychiatrist

Physical recovery from childbirth, dramatic hormonal fluctuations, and interrupted sleep are significant stressors.

“Physical recovery from childbirth, dramatic hormonal fluctuations, and interrupted sleep are significant stressors,” notes Rachel J. Dalthorp, MD, a psychiatrist at LifeStance Health. She adds, “Moms may be nervous about taking care of their new baby or be worried about how their life has changed since the baby was born.” 

These thoughts can cause new mothers and fathers to feel sad or depressed. Inadequate support, relationship issues, and additional stressors can cause or heighten baby blues.

Signs of Baby Blues 

Some common signs of baby blues include:

  • Sadness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • High and low mood swings
  • Crying spells 
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Increased irritability
  • Disappointment
  • Restlessness
  • Stress or anxiety

How Long Do Baby Blues Last?

Fortunately, the mood swings indicative of baby blues tend to gradually fade after about one to two weeks, just as you begin to settle into parenthood. These feelings usually go away on their own, and don’t require professional treatment.

Harvey Karp, MD, pediatrician

If after two weeks you still feel awash with confusing feelings, reach out to your physician, midwife, or even your baby’s doctor for guidance and help.

— Harvey Karp, MD, pediatrician

How Are the Baby Blues Different From Postpartum Depression?

Note that baby blues aren’t considered the same as postpartum depression, which is characterized by persistent depression that can impact a mother’s ability to function. The depression itself can wax and wane, but it lasts around six months. 

“If after two weeks you still feel awash with confusing feelings, reach out to your physician, midwife, or even your baby’s doctor for guidance and help,” says Harvey Karp, MD, a pediatrician, and child development expert. “Please share with your loved ones, too. They can work to take some of the stress out of your day-to-day.” 

Studies have found that mothers who experience baby blues are four to 11 times more likely to experience postpartum depression.

How to Cope with Baby Blues 

Here are some ways you can work through baby blues.

Accept & Be Gentle With Yourself 

If you’re experiencing the baby blues, know that you are not alone and your feelings are completely normal and valid. It doesn’t indicate that you’re a bad parent, that you love your child any less, or that you won’t be able to find immense joy in the future. Remember that baby blues are temporary. 

Lean on Support

New parents who lack support are more vulnerable to baby blues. “Today, parents need to find new solutions to help them get the sleep they need to remain healthy,” says Dr. Karp. “One thing you can do to feel better is enlist support from friends and family to help with meals, cleanup, entertaining older children, holding the baby so you can nap, etc.” 

You can also outsource support via food delivery services, nannying, and housekeeping.

Take Care of Yourself

It might be challenging at times, especially with so much time focused on your new baby, but try to carve out time for simple self-care. Shower, get dressed, make a meal you enjoy, go on walks with your child, exercise if you can, read when you’re able, and decompress in whatever way brings you joy. Leaning on others will really help you be able to do this.

A Word From Verywell 

Remember that postpartum blues or baby blues are a common part of giving birth, with up to 85% of mothers and 10% of fathers experiencing these feelings. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed, and be willing to lean on others for support while tending to your own needs, as well. It’s a lot to balance and figure out, but you’re resilient and there’s light on the other side.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Baby blues and postpartum depression: Mood disorders and pregnancy.

  2.  Yes, postpartum depression in men is very real. (2019, September 16). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/yes-postpartum-depression-in-men-is-very-real/

  3.  Balaram, K., & Marwaha, R. (2022). Postpartum blues. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554546/

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.