Your mental health after the birth
Bonding with your baby
You may fall in love with your baby while you’re pregnant or at first sight, but don’t worry if you don’t. Lots of women find that they fall in love with their baby over time. The more you hold, feed and talk to your baby, the closer you will feel to them. Find out more about ways to bond with your baby.
It’s not like a nappy ad
The early weeks with a baby can feel overwhelming. You’ll have many beautiful moments with your baby, but even the easiest baby can be exhausting and messy. Your baby won’t know the difference between day or night and you probably won’t get much sleep.
You will also still be recovering from giving birth, and you and your baby will be learning to breastfeed, if that’s what you’ve chosen to do.
It can be a tough time and you may find that the smallest things upset you. Try not to worry because every new mum goes through this. Things will get better.
It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re caring for a new baby but try to look after yourself too. Try to eat properly, sleep when you can and let someone else take care of your baby sometimes so you can take a break, even if it’s just to have a long shower. It’s much easier to look after your baby if you feel good yourself.
Crying after the birth – the ‘baby blues’
The ‘baby blues’ usually start in the week after birth and stop by the time your baby is around 10 days old. It’s very common.
Symptoms can include:
- feeling emotional and irrational
- bursting into tears for no apparent reason
- feeling irritable or touchy
- feeling depressed or anxious.
These are all normal feelings caused by hormone changes as your body gets used to not being pregnant anymore. You don’t need any treatment for the baby blues, but it can be helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.
“It kicked in for me three days after having my baby. I was sitting in the bed, looking at him, thinking, ‘Is this it?’ All the excitement had disappeared and I felt flat. I think this feeling lasted a few days and then went away.”
Having the ‘baby blues’ is not the same as postnatal depression. Postnatal depression is when you have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt or self-blame all the time for weeks or months after you’ve had a baby.
The symptoms can vary from mild to severe and it can affect women in different ways. Some women may find it difficult to look after themselves and their baby if they have severe depression.
Depression is a mental health condition. It is not a sign of weakness, something that will go away on its own or something that you should just ‘snap out of’. The good news is that postnatal depression can be treated with the right care and support, and most women will make a full recovery.
Talk to your midwife or GP if you think you have any symptoms of depression and they last for more than two weeks.
Make a Wellbeing Plan
The Pregnancy and Post-birth Wellbeing Plan is designed to help you think about your mental health during and after pregnancy. It also helps you think about who will support you and has tips for looking after yourself.
Clinical Knowledge Summaries (2015) Depression – antenatal and postnatal https://cks.nice.org.uk/depression-antenatal-and-postnatal#!topicsummary
NHS. Feeling depressed after childbirth. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/feeling-depressed-after-birth/ (Page last reviewed: 12/10/2015. Next review due: 12/10/2018)
NHS. Postnatal depression. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/ (Page last reviewed: 11/02/2016. Next review due: 01/02/2019)