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Emotional roller coaster
Pregnancy and motherhood bring a range of emotions. It is normal to feel excited, joyful, anxious, or overwhelmed as you adjust to a new baby. You may even feel all of these emotions in a short period of time. Hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and new responsibilities can make you feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster.
If you are ever concerned about how you're feeling, talk with someone now.
Take Care of Yourself
Here are some ways to take care of your mental and emotional health as you welcome a new baby.
- Get rest. The first few days at home after having your baby are a time for rest and recovery—physically and emotionally. It's good to focus your energy on yourself and on getting to know your new baby. You, your family, and friends may be very excited to spend time together, but there will be plenty of time for that. In the early days, try to limit visitors and get as much rest as possible. It's perfectly normal if all you can do is eat, sleep, and care for your baby. Learn to pace yourself from the first day that you arrive back home. Try to lie down or nap while the baby naps.
- Keep breastfeeding! Nursing releases a hormone called prolactin that helps you relax. Breastfeeding also strengthens the bond between you and your baby.
- Talk to someone. Talking to your partner or a trusted friend or family member can be a powerful release that helps you feel better.
- Connect with other moms. Find a moms' group in your neighborhood or online. These groups give you the chance to share with others who are going through similar experiences.
- Accept help and do less. Don't be afraid to ask others to help with the baby and household chores so you can take care of yourself, too. If chores don't get done, that's okay too. Time spent caring for yourself and your baby is more important than a perfect house.
- Pay attention to your feelings. Acknowledge how you're feeling and spend some extra time on yourself.
- Go outside. Sunshine and a change of scenery can help brighten your mood. Many people with depression have reported feeling better after bright-light therapy.
- Get some exercise. Regular exercise is good for your mind and body. It also increases your energy level and helps you feel like your old self faster.
- Do something you enjoy. Take a few minutes each day to do something you enjoy, whether it's chatting with a friend, listening to music, or watching a favorite show.
- Be realistic. Don't worry about being perfect. Just do what you can and leave the rest!
Perinatal Depression and Anxiety
You may feel like you're the only person in the world who feels depressed or anxious during pregnancy or after your baby is born, but you are not alone. 1 out of 8 women experience postpartum depression after having a baby.
Depression or anxiety is not a sign of weakness or a sign that you are doing something wrong. It is a medical condition that can have long-term health effects, and it is not likely to go away on its own. But with treatment, there is hope. There are treatments available that can reduce the symptoms or make them go away completely, and that are safe for you and your baby while breastfeeding. Talk with your health-care provider about what treatment may be right for you.
Know the Signs and Take Action
Use this Action Plan for Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth (PDF, 215 KB) from the National Institutes of Health to help understand the signs of depression and anxiety and to take steps to feel better.
You may be experiencing mood swings
- Feel like you just aren't yourself
- Have trouble managing your emotions
- Feel overwhelmed but are still able to care for yourself and your baby
- Take special care of yourself. Get your partner to watch the baby, get a babysitter, or team up with another mom to share child care so that you can rest and exercise.
- Continue to watch for the signs of depression and anxiety. If things get worse, find someone to talk to. Talk to a health care provider if you feel unsure.
You may be experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety
- Have feelings of intense anxiety that hit with no warning
- Feel foggy and have difficulty completing tasks
- Feel "robotic," like you are just going through the motions
- Have little interest in things you used to enjoy
- Feel very anxious around the baby and your other children
- Have scary, upsetting thoughts that don't go away
- Feel guilty and feel like you are failing at motherhood
- Get help. Contact your health care provider or visit a clinic.
- Call Postpartum Support International at 1-800-944-4PPD (4773) to speak to a volunteer who can provide support and resources in your area.
- Talk to your partner, family, and friends about these feeling so they can help you.
Get help now!
- Feel hopeless and total despair
- Feel out of touch with reality (you may see or hear things other people don't)
- Feel that you may hurt yourself or your baby
Get help now!
- Call 9-1-1 for immediate help.
- Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for free and confidential emotional support—they talk about more than just suicide.
- Contact your healthcare provider or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Locator at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) to find a health care provider in your area.
Download a printable version of the action plan for yourself, a family member, friend, or patient. (PDF, 215 KB)