What is postpartum depression?

When you are pregnant or have a baby, your hormones and mood can change without warning. Many women are sad, irritable, or tearful for a few days after giving birth. For some women, feelings of sadness and hopelessness don't go away. This is called postpartum depression, and it's treatable.

What causes postpartum depression?

Changing hormones bring on postpartum depression, but you are more likely to experience it if you:

  • Have had depression or postpartum depression before
  • Don't have enough support from your partner, family, or friends
  • Have a lot of stress in your life
  • Have a sick or colicky baby

Getting help for postpartum depression

Postpartum depression isn't a sign that you are a bad mother or that you don't love your baby. It's a medical condition that you should talk to your doctor honestly about. Most of the time, postpartum depression is treated with an antidepressant, therapy, or a combination of both.

Make sure you're also taking care of yourself at home:

  • Ask family and friends to come visit you
  • Get as much sunshine as you can
  • Eat small healthy snacks throughout the day
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Get as much rest as you can
  • Play upbeat music

Breastfeeding and antidepressants

There are several antidepressants that you can take while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about which one will work best for you.

Treating your depression is very important for your baby. Breastfeeding is good for your baby's health. And it's good for your baby's bond with you, but it's not the only way to bond. At best, you will be able to treat your depression and breastfeed your baby.

If you need to choose between taking medicine to treat your depression and breastfeeding, it's better for you and your baby to take the medicine.

Read more about postpartum depression.