Maternity blues: what is it and how does it manifest itself?

The “maternity blues” is a phenomenon unknown to many mothers. It is sometimes confused with postpartum depression, but they are not the same thing.

Last update: 22 September, 2022

The Mmaternity blues It is a phenomenon that occurs, above all, in first-time mothers. It consists of a psychological episode of sadness and feeling of being overwhelmed. It is short-lived, but if left unchecked, it can lead to postpartum depression.

Having a child is an experience that requires a great effort of adaptation. There are changes in all aspects of life, starting with one’s physical appearance.

It is estimated that up to 80% of mothers experience the maternity blues. The usual thing is that the episode begins between the third and the fifth day after delivery. It lasts between a few hours and a couple of weeks.

What is maternity blues?

The maternity blues It is an emotional state that occurs after childbirth, due to the hormonal and psychological changes that occur during the stage. Also known as postpartum dysphoria either baby blues.

Women describe it as “a roller coaster of emotions”. Although there is happiness for having given birth, there is also the feeling that everything is very overwhelming and that “the world is coming on top”.

From a clinical point of view, the maternity blues it is a condition that does not require treatment. This is a normal reaction to the adaptive challenges of having a child. However, follow-up must be done so that this does not turn into postpartum depression.

The main difference between maternity blues and postpartum depression is that the first is transitory and does not incapacitate the mother. In depression, on the other hand, the symptoms are intense and tend to get worse, so professional help is required.

The feeling of being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood is common. Its prolongation over time should be avoided.


The usual thing is that the maternity blues begin with a feeling of melancholy and sadness, which often leads to crying episodes. Likewise, there is irritability and mood swings without a reason that justifies them.

It is possible that the mother feels that she is not able to take care of her baby properly or that she will not have the strength to face everything that is coming. This is often accompanied by symptoms such as the following:

  • Fear.
  • Desire to run away.
  • loss of appetite
  • Exhausted.
  • Distress and anxiety.
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping well.
  • Dissatisfaction with oneself and insecurity.

It is estimated that between 10 and 15% of mothers who experience the maternity blues they are going to develop Postpartum depression. This can be thought of as occurring when symptoms are very severe or persist beyond 3 weeks after birth.


Science does not know the exact causes of maternity bluesbut it is clear that Hormones play a very important role in this picture. There are big changes during pregnancy, but also during childbirth and postpartum.

After childbirth there is a sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone levels. There are also changes in prolactin and serotonin. It is believed that this affects the phenomenon, but there is not enough evidence to confirm it.

In the maternity blues The high demands of the environment during the immediate postpartum stage also seem to play a role. There are changes in individual, couple and social life. All of this is overwhelming, especially for less flexible people.

On the other hand, there may be a significant contrast between expectations and reality. There are many myths surrounding motherhood. It is common for it to be idealized and for the mother to feel pressured to feel or not feel certain emotions.

How to tackle it?

The best way to approach maternity blues is having realistic postpartum expectations. Yes, it is wonderful to have given birth to a new life, but also very demanding and it takes time to connect with the baby and with the new situation.

The mother has the right to experience some hostility in the face of this experience. It is important to give yourself permission to feel something that may seem inappropriate to others.

It is not an easy stage and there is no need to pretend that it is.

The support and understanding of the couple are key. Likewise, it helps to take into account the following guidelines:

  • Understand that it is something temporary. Sometimes it seems not, but it is. Those feelings will dissipate.
  • Rest as much as possible. Good rest helps to cope with these episodes in the best way.
  • Build routines. Routines help normalize hormone levels. They also give a feeling of greater control.
  • Ask for help. Friends can help a lot during maternity bluesas well as family and close friends.
  • Share experiences with other mothers. It is an excellent way to demystify many aspects related to motherhood.
  • Do not demand too much. This is not the time to be perfectionists and try to make everything run like clockwork. It is better to relax and be flexible.
  • Give yourself some whims. Small treats like a delicious meal, a movie, or a walk are a great way to work around negative emotions.
Indulging in some treats can be a way to decompress the pressure generated by the new obligations of motherhood.

Pay attention to the “maternity blues”

Unfortunately, the maternity blues goes unnoticed by people around a mother. It is very common for these episodes to be experienced in silence; even in the midst of some criticism or disapproval.

It is very important for mothers to know the symptoms of maternity blues and learn to identify when they are normal and when they represent signs of postpartum depression. Psychological help is always an option.

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