Even though having a baby is often a happy event, it can also be a time of stress and some women will find themselves experiencing significant anxiety or depression during their pregnancy. In particular, women who have struggled with depression and anxiety in the past may be more likely to experience anxiety and depression in pregnancy and the postpartum period. The lack of sleep after the baby is born can also worsen these symptoms. Speak to your health care provider if you are experiencing emotions that are worrisome to you.

woman with depression

Emotions in the postpartum period 

Nearly all women experience some crying and mood swings in the first few weeks after birth. The blues usually only last a very short time. Try to get as much rest as possible. You might want to pump some milk so that someone else can do one feed for the baby. Limit your visitors and phone calls and accept all offers of household help. Try to arrange some time for yourself and do activities you like. Even a brief walk around the block can sometimes help you feel refreshed. Talk to others about your feelings. Knowing that others often experience similar feelings is helpful. 

Your partner will experience some ups and downs too. It is important to communicate your thoughts and feelings to each other. Try and find some time to spend with your partner. 

If the blues do not improve in a few weeks and you are starting to feel depressed, discuss your feelings with your health care provider.

A small number of women do develop postpartum depression and it is important to get help to deal with this. Women who have had depression in the past are at a greater risk to develop postpartum depression and should get prompt attention for persistent mood swings or feelings of depression.

Signs of depression

  • Feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty or anxious all the time
  • Feeling restless, angry or easily irritable
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping a lot
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Crying for no reason
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Not bonding with baby or being afraid to be with the baby
  • Have thoughts about harming yourself or the baby

What can you do?

  • Do not blame yourself
  • Get professional help
  • Educate yourself about peripartum mood disorders
  • Accept help with household chores and childcare
  • Take time for yourself — sleep, eat, exercise
  • Get counselling
  • Consider medication

What can friends and family do?

  • Encourage her to get professional help
  • Educate yourself about peripartum mood disorders
  • Ask her how you can help
  • Help with daily responsibilities, chores, meal preparation
  • Take her to an appointment
  • Help with childcare
  • Every family is different — try not to compare
  • Don’t take mom’s mood disorder personally
  • Get support for yourself too

One in five women will experience a mood disorder in or around pregnancy. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your health care provider.


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Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness Ltd. 
BC Children’s Hospital Reproductive Mental Health 
Mother Reach
Best Start
Mount Sinai Hospital
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mental Health Helpline
Caring for Kids


Life with a new baby is not always what you expect  
Managing Depression