This Is What The Baby Blues Looks Like (Hint: NOT Postpartum Depression)

This Is What the Baby Blues Looks Like (Hint: NOT Postpartum Depression)

Baby blues is not postpartum depression.

Baby blues is not postpartum depression.

Baby blues is not postpartum depression.

You’ve heard me say this a million times before. But now I’ve said it again.

People who don’t believe in postpartum depression love to talk about the “over-medicalization of motherhood.” They’ll tell you that being a mom is tough.

It’s not an illness. You don’t need a doctor. If you’re sad and blue, that’s because you are now a parent with a lot of responsibility, and besides which our society doesn’t value or support parents enough, so no wonder you are miserable. What a red herring.

When we talk about postpartum depression, we’re NOT talking about how hard motherhood is or the fact that new mothers are sleep deprived. We are talking about an illness that arises sometime in the first 12 months after a baby is born that is so serious it impacts a mother’s ability to function on a daily basis.

She may have trouble eating. She has trouble sleeping, and I don’t mean because her baby doesn’t sleep. When her baby is sleeping she often can’t sleep, even though she’s exhausted. She can lose her ability to enjoy most if not all parts of her life. She may experience deep sadness and may often cry. She has difficulty caring for either her baby or herself because she is so troubled by how she feels. She may have bouts of uncontrollable anger or irritability. She may be thinking her family would be better off without her.

This mom needs a doctor.

When we talk about postpartum depression, we are not talking about the baby blues either. No one is suggesting that a woman go out and get treatment if, in the first couple of weeks after the baby is born, she is exhausted and cries for no reason and feels a little bewildered. That would make her normal. The majority of new moms have this experience, which, according to Dr. Ruta Nonacs, usually peaks on day four or five postpartum and goes away all on its own at about two weeks postpartum. These moms don’t need professional help. They need time.

Below is the account of a new mom who writes about her baby blues. Notice the timing of her experience: The first couple weeks after birth. Notice what happens: It goes away. Notice what she says: I feel better. I’m getting the hang of this.

This story is an example of the baby blues. This is what the baby blues looks like. This is not a story of postpartum depression.

Expecting Words: My Baby Blues

“Thankfully, my mood changed back to normal a couple weeks after the baby arrived. I realized that I had been through a rough patch that was now over. I was back to my normal self. Don’t get me wrong, I was still tired, but I appreciated my family and took great pleasure in holding my little one. I liked watching him rest, eat and sleep.”

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression here.

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think


  1. Yup. That was me. I was shocked and saddened by how sad I was after the baby came. My feelings about being sad just worsened the whole experience. Thankfully the sadness disappeared rather quickly. I feel for women with PPD because I don't know what I would have done if that sense of desperation hadn't gone away. It must be soooo hard to live that way for months or years. I have no doubt that it is a REAL and SERIOUS mental illness and it needs to be treated medically. I don't care what Tom Cruise says! He has certainly never had a baby.

  2. Too many women go undiagnosed with Postpartum Depression. I was almost one of them! Thankfully, I called my doctor and got the help I needed and deserved! It helps to have blogs like yours so new moms can read the exeriences of other new moms and realize they're not alone and are NOT failures. Thank you so very much!

  3. I have this discussion with SOOO many people, who don't really hear me until I start explaining, in detail, my plans for killing my child and/or myself. My first bout was resolved with a little therapy and time, and I consider closer to the blues experience. My second…nearly deadly, and still makes me cry to this day nearly 5 years later. PPD ruined the first year of my daughter's life for me. The blues never would have.

  4. chair sashes says:

    My sister suffered post partum depression. It is a very serious thing.

  5. I had the "baby blues" with baby #1 (though for me it is more like "baby mania"). With baby #2 I struggled with postpartum depression, but I survived without really knowing what it was till after the fact. With baby #3 it was smooth sailing–back on the treadmill at 6 weeks postpartum! Baby #4 is now 21 mo. old, and the postpartum depression/anxiety I continue to fight has taken me on a roller coaster ride I could never have imagined. I've experienced the whole spectrum–you bet there is a difference!

  6. I was tired and emotional the first few weeks after my son was born, but not depressed at all. The PPD didn't hit until he was a few months old, and lasted two years. PPD is very real, and very serious, and feels nothing like a simple case of "the blues."

  7. Thank you for this post and the last on the "western phenomenon." These are such clear and strong statements for all those who don't get it, and unfortunately don't want to. They're also helpful to the rest of us, trying to uncoil from depression and regain self-respect. You're such a good writer!
    All my best — John

  8. joycevenis says:

    I had PPD over 40 years ago,planned my suicide.My whole life has changed for the better as a result.I am now using history to help others with it for almost 40 years.Where there is a bad,there is a good.I only wish you had been around then.Thank you for being there.

  9. heidihowes@hotmail.c says:

    Amen!!! I love postpartum progress!

  10. I second the Amen!

  11. Amen X3!

  12. I wanted to ask opinions in an anonymous a way as possible, because although I’m compassionate to those that have ppd, I don’t need another reason for the nurses at the hospital to watch me closely.
    I had a traumatic birth, I lost one of my twins, my other baby is doing well but is in the nicu and pumping makes me nauseous and I had the flu two weeks ago. It’s almost 6 weeks post partum, but I’m still bleeding, can’t I also still have baby blues? I really don’t feel abnormally depressed and I actually feel like I’m coping well, but I am irritable, anxious, weepy and can’t stop tears when I’m not rushing around or engaged intellectually. Isn’t this normal? I’ve been reading that baby blues last 2 weeks, but can’t my baby blues be longer due to circumstances or because I’m very sensitive (I even get sad and frustrated about things many people ignore like pollution and social injustice).

    • Heather King says:

      Yes, Holly. It could be your body is still going through the hormonal shifts that pass quickly at the beginning. All you can do is keep an eye on yourself and speak to a professional if these symptoms persist for another week or more. You have gone through A LOT, so you could be going through “normal” responses to that. Or, it could last and you would then most likely be dealing with PPD or another mood disorder. There’s help for that, so either way, you will be okay, in time and with help. I’m sending you peace, and I’m so sorry for your loss.