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Mental Health &

Post Partum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that develops within the first week after delivery. It is important that women seek immediate help to avoid hurting themselves, others or their baby.

Symptoms include:

  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Postpartum psychosis should be treated as a medical emergency
  • If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of postpartum psychosis seek immediate help and call 911
  • Postpartum psychosis can happen to anyone, however, there are some factors that can increase the likelihood:
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • History of postpartum psychosis in previous pregnancy
  • Family history of postpartum psychosis/bipolar disorder
  • Being a teen mother/first time mother

For more information on postpartum psychosis, visit

Seeking Help

  • Mental illness during pregnancy is nothing to be embarrassed about and it is very common. 1 out of 8 women experience postpartum depression in the U.S., and this number nearly doubles for Black and Latina women. It is important to seek help as soon as possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy and bond with your baby.
  • Call your doctor if symptoms:
    • Don’t fade after two weeks
    • Are getting worse
    • Difficulty caring for your baby
    • Difficulty completing everyday tasks
    • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby

Perinatal Anxiety

  • Pregnancy can be overwhelming; anxiety is very common during and after pregnancy. It is similar to regular anxiety but is connected to having a baby and becoming a parent. Symptoms include:
  • Worrying excessively, especially your health or baby
  • Inability to concentrate or sit still
  • Dizziness, hot flashes and nausea
  • Feeling like something bad is going to happen
  • Feeling irritable or agitated
  • Sleeping poorly
  • High levels of anxiety can increase your risk in developing
    • Preeclampsia
    • Premature birth
    • Low birth weight
  • Postpartum anxiety can affect your bond with your baby, however talking with your doctor and finding treatment can help.


“Baby Blues” 

  • Hormone levels after birth drop, which significantly impacts mood. “Baby blues” are feelings of sadness after the baby is born and lasts 1-2 weeks. This short-term feeling is completely normal and usually resolves on its own, however, you should still mention it to your doctor in case there is progression.


Baby Blues symptoms can include

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Appetite problems
  • For more information visit the American Pregnancy Association website on Baby Blues.


Perinatal Depression 

  • Depression can occur during and after pregnancy and is very common in mothers with a history of depression or facing economic hardship. Prenatal depression if left untreated can progress and hurt you or your baby. Postpartum depression occurs after delivery and can interfere with bonding with your baby.
    • Symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression include:
      • Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed
      • Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
      • Hesitation to follow prenatal guidelines
      • Excessive crying
      • Difficulty bonding with baby
      • Withdrawing from family/friends
      • Loss of energy/fatigue
      • Insomnia/too much sleep
      • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
      • Recurrent thoughts of death/suicide
      • Overeating/ loss of appetite
  • For more information on postpartum depression visit the Office on Women’s Health website, Postpartum Depression.


Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression 

  • “Baby blues” and postpartum depression are often mistaken for each other. Symptoms of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer. Postpartum depression can develop during pregnancy, few weeks after birth, or even 2 years after birth. Below are indicators that it’s postpartum depression and not baby blues:
    • Begins within the first month or year after birth
    • Lasts more than 2 weeks
    • More intense
    • Interferes with your ability to care for your baby and daily tasks
  • For more information on the difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression visit the National Institute of Mental Health website on perinatal depression.

Mental Health

During and After Pregnancy 

  • Adding the responsibility of creating a life on top of other responsibilities can have an effect on one’s mental health. Especially if this is a first, unplanned or there are pre-existing conditions of depression and anxiety. Ignoring mental health might lead to poor health decisions that can affect the baby’s development. The first years of a baby’s life is fundamental for future mental and social development. The first few weeks after birth can also be overwhelming for you and the baby. Acknowledging mental health can help bond with your baby better.


 Tips to maintain perinatal mental health  

  • Pregnancy and the first few weeks after birth can be overwhelming for you and the baby. Acknowledging your mental health can help in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Below are some tips to consider during and after pregnancy:
  • Address and treat mental health concerns during pregnancy can lead to better health decisions like eating well, exercising, getting adequate sleep and taking prenatal vitamins which are important for fetal development.
  • Prioritize yourself when you can. Pregnancy can be overwhelming; however, it can be beneficial to make some time for yourself
  • Ask for help when needed. Pregnancy can take a toll on your body and mental health, asking for help can ease your workload.
  • Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and being regularly active.
  • Spend time with loved ones can help in feeling overwhelmed and can be the best support system for this life-changing moment.


Risk Factors that Affect Mental Health

  • Mental health can affect anyone regardless of race, income, age, culture or education. It is important that mothers don’t feel at fault, there are many uncontrollable factors that play into poor mental health during and after pregnancy that includes:
    • Past mental disorders
    • Recent and/or ongoing stressful events
      • Food/housing insecurity
      • Complications during birth/pregnancy
  • Inadequate social support
  • Poor marital relationship
    • Domestic partner violence/abuse
  • Childcare stress
  • Lower socioeconomic status
  • Substance abuse
  •  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
  • Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • And more