Did the baby blues arrive with your newborn?

[3 min read]

In this article: 

  • It is completely normal and expected to experience a range of emotions – positive and negative – after childbirth.  

  • Identifying and understanding these emotions can help you navigate them and put them into perspective.  

  • Adopting and embracing ways to cope with what you’re feeling – like asking for help to take a nap or go for a walk – can work wonders too.  

Feeling a wide range of quickly changing emotions during your pregnancy-to-postpartum journey is a completely natural part of becoming a parent. Hormones, changes in life circumstances and exhaustion all contribute to your emotions. This is especially true during postpartum – the six weeks after childbirth – when you’re recovering, taking care of a newborn and adapting to this new phase of your life.   

However, naming and understanding these feelings can help you better deal with them today and in the future. 

What you might feel during postpartum  

Endorphin and oxytocin hormones contribute to the positive feelings you experience around childbirth. After birth, you experience a sharp decline in the progesterone hormone which can contribute to the very common “baby blues” or even postpartum depression.  
 
Pair that with round-the-clock feeding, diaper changes and exhaustion, and it’s no surprise that new parents often feel a mix of both positive and negative feelings in the early weeks after birth. You may feel: 

  • Alert as you learn to care for a baby and respond to its cues.  
  • Excited and content at your baby’s long-awaited arrival.  

  • Empathetic and more in tune with the needs of your baby and those around you.  

  • Joy as you see a first smile, hold a tiny hand or hear a first coo.   

  • Aggression thanks to hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation and stress.  

  • Anxiety for your baby’s health and well-being and your ability to care for them.  

  • Depression, likely caused by hormonal changes, genetics and other factors.  

  • Disappointment if your birth experience didn’t go as planned or you struggle to breastfeed or bond with your baby.  

  • Frustrated at the demands of caring for a newborn, lack of sleep and lack of help.  

  • Inadequacy and self-doubt as you navigate the challenges of parenthood.  

  • Overwhelmed by your new responsibilities.  

  • Sad or weepy, due to changes in your hormones, fatigue and the ups and downs of childbirth.
  • Restless or unsettled, making it difficult to relax.

During the postpartum period, you will likely feel a wide range of these emotions – and sometimes more than one at once! You also might feel happy and content one minute and deeply sad the next. This is all normal.  
 
A note on the “baby blues”  

In the 2-to-3 weeks after giving birth, it’s common to experience the “baby blues.” This feeling is caused by rapid hormonal changes, the stress and emotions of childbirth, feeding challenges or physical discomfort, new responsibilities, sleep deprivation and more. These baby blues often result in crying, weepiness, forgetfulness and trouble concentrating.

Nearly all new mothers – up to 85%, according to Johns Hopkins University – experience the baby blues. However, if they continue for weeks or months and are joined by any of the postpartum depression symptoms detailed here, please contact your doctor.  

How to cope with feelings during postpartum 

You and your baby have both just experienced huge life changes – be kind to yourself. Find moments to slow down, take care of yourself and get some alone time. Ask your partner to help so you can take a shower (no small feat with a newborn!) or a nap, go for a walk or just get out of the house (alone or with your baby). Call in friends and family to help, too. As the saying goes, “It takes a village.”  

Growing, birthing and caring for a baby is a physical and emotional journey. It’s also a huge transition. Whatever you feel, these feelings are completely normal – you’re not alone. And they don’t end after postpartum: Parenthood, too, is a journey of feelings.  

Learn more and find a physician or advanced care practitioner (ACP)

Swedish has three birth centers — First HillIssaquah and Edmonds — making it convenient for people who live or work in the Seattle, Eastside and North End areas. Swedish patients can take classes, meet other families, get help with lactation and go for new parents and well-baby checkups at The Lytle Center for Pregnancy & Newborns at our First Hill birth center. You can also get expert advice there and help with wellness. Visit our website to learn more about midwives at Swedish and how they can partner with you to create the most personalized birthing experience possible. 

If you need a gynecologistwomen's health specialist or primary care doctor, Swedish is here for you. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Virtual Care connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.

Information for patients and visitors 

Additional resources

Do You Know How a Midwife Can Help You?

Not just the baby blues. Swedish experts on postpartum anxiety and depression

Cutting-edge care for patients giving birth and their babies | king5.com

U.S. News & World Report names Providence Swedish among nation’s best hospitals for maternity care

About the Author

There's a reason why more babies are born at Swedish every year than any other health system in western Washington - bringing babies into this world is our mission. The Swedish Pregnancy & Childbirth Team is committed to giving you relevant and actionable insights on how to care for yourself and your child as you navigate the trimesters of your pregnancy.

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