Baby blues post partum

Many mothers, usually within a couple of days after giving birth, experience a very particular and almost indefinite condition called  baby blues  or  maternity blues , words that literally mean  melancholy ,  mother’s sadness .

What is postpartum baby blues

The baby blues experience, first defined by the English psychoanalyst and pediatrician  Donald Winnicott , is a mixture of:

  • mood swings;
  • anxiety;
  • sadness, melancholy;
  • irritability;
  • sense of overwhelm;
  • motivated plants;
  • poor or reduced concentration;
  • inappetence;
  • difficulty sleeping.

It is estimated that the baby blues is experienced by about 70% of mothers and on average it lasts two weeks. It differs from  postpartum depression  because it is less intense and longer lasting.

Le cause del baby blues

The motivations behind the baby blues are mainly physiological, together with others of a more psychological and contextual nature:

  • Labor and delivery fatigue : they represent a great moment of both physical and psychological effort. They leave the woman tired and exhausted; if particularly long and demanding they can lead to a sense of unease and inadequacy that destabilize the mood.
  • Abrupt hormonal swings : there is a collapse of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that also trigger the mood swings and the typical ailments of premenstrual syndrome. In addition, the body is activated to prepare itself for breastfeeding the newborn.
  • Expectations related to the future : whether it’s the first child or not, the new mother finds herself in a new condition. The balance of the family nucleus changes, with a new born that requires total care.
  • A “transitional” body image: the woman no longer has a baby in her womb, but if she physically observes it, she still sees it different. She does not know if she will be the same as she was before the  pregnancy  and she may feel guilty having thoughts that are not directed specifically at the baby.

These common causes are intertwined with others that are more subjective and specific to the history of every woman.

How do you cure the baby blues?

Being a transient disorder, basically without consequences, the baby blues (or maternity blues) does not require specialist interventions. However, it is good to monitor it: if the symptoms begin to be prolonged (over a month) and increase in intensity, there may be a risk of postpartum depression.

However, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the inconvenience. For example, taking time to take care of yourself: new mothers often don’t even have time for a hot bath or a haircut. If they have it, they often experience these care gestures badly because they feel as if they are stealing time from the child’s care. In this sense, partners and family members can help by relieving the woman’s duties and respecting her spaces, perhaps avoiding going all together to visit the child as soon as they  return home from the hospital . The visit will have to be agreed with the mother who has every right to postpone it to her when she feels calmer.

Winnicott stressed the importance of sharing and dialogue: feeling sad or melancholy doesn’t mean being a bad mother. As mentioned above, this is a normal and physiological condition and talking about it can make it less difficult to deal with. So chats with mothers and dear friends are welcome: the important thing is an environment free from prejudice, in which you feel welcomed and listened to.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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