When a mother-to-be looks forward to life with a newborn, she might envision a scene out of a Hallmark card, the new parents bathed in a rosy glow, smiling lovingly down at their baby. And there will be those times, of course: The birth of a child is a time that most parents look back on as a high point in life.
But for many women, the period after giving birth can be an unexpected low time. An astonishing number of women—from 70 to 80 percent—feel depressed in the days after their babies are born. And about 15 percent experience a more serious ailment called postpartum depression (PPD)1.
Postpartum depression is not the same as the baby blues, the short-term anxiety and fatigue that typically fades in five days to two weeks. PPD can be extremely debilitating, and it can occur shortly before or any time after the baby is born, even up to a year. However, with treatment and counseling, these feelings usually go away.
Some women with postpartum depression have difficulty performing routine tasks. They may have prolonged sadness, heightened anxiety, feelings of isolation and a lack of interest in their newborn. In addition to sadness, women with PPD may suffer from physical ailments, such as frequent headaches and muscle pain.