Postpartum Depression

Depression is common for new mothers in the postpartum period.  MaineHealth provides resources and treatment to help new mothers and families.

Emergency help is available

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, your baby, or anyone else, see your provider immediately or call 911 for emergency medical care.

What is postpartum depression?

About half of all women who have a baby will experience a few days of depression after the birth. When these symptoms are mild they are referred to as the “baby blues”; symptoms are typically worse around four days after birth and resolve by two weeks.

However, many women experience more serious depression after childbirth that may last longer than a few weeks. It is important to tell your provider if you think you may have postpartum depression. Treatment can help.

Symptoms of postpartum depression

Women with postpartum depression may experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feeling guilty or feeling like a failure as a mother
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trouble focusing

After you leave the hospital

Having a baby is a big change. You may need a little extra help learning how to care for your baby. Sometimes babies struggle with feeding or have health problems that need extra care. If you or your baby need care after you leave the hospital, your doctor or nurse may set you up with a visit from a home health visiting nurse.

Your doctor may recommend having your thyroid tested to make sure that a problem with the thyroid isn’t causing the symptoms.

Most of the time, postpartum depression is best treated with counseling and medication.

Home treatment options

Your provider may recommend other strategies to help you feel better, including:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Avoid drinking excessive alcohol and caffeine
  • Spend some time outside
  • Exercise if your body is ready to do so
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Rest and sleep
  • Join a new-mother support group
  • Ask for help when you need it