You can experience depression during pregnancy (perinatal or prenatal depression) and also after giving birth (postnatal or postpartum depression). It is normal to feel ‘baby blues’ (a brief period of feeling emotional around 3-10 days after giving birth). These are usually manageable and only last about two weeks. However, some new mothers develop a deeper depression (postnatal depression) which can range from being mild to being really severe. It usually develops within the first six weeks after giving birth (but it can come up to a year later) and can come on gradually (you might not realise you have it because of this) or all of a sudden.


Symptoms of perinatal/postnatal depression include:

  • A persistent low mood 
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time 
  • Eating less or eating more 
  • Feelings of agitation 
  • A loss of interest in the world
  • Feeling unable to enjoy the things that you used to
  • Feeling guilty 
  • Feeling hostile towards your partner
  • Having disturbed sleep
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby 
  • Scary thoughts (e.g. about hurting your baby – although these are rarely acted upon)
  • Thinking about self-harm and suicide


The causes of perinatal and postnatal depression aren’t clear, but there are some factors that can be linked to their development. These include:

  • If you have a history of mental health problems (particularly depression or a history of mental health problems during pregnancy)
  • If you have a poor relationship with your partner 
  • If you don’t have any close family or friends to support you
  • Having the ‘baby blues’
  • Having recent stressful life events (e.g. bereavement)

However , you don’t need to have any of these to develop depression – having a baby is a life-changing event in itself and that alone can sometimes trigger depression.

How can I help myself?

  • Talk to someone – talking to someone you trust can help in itself, sometimes just sharing your experiences with someone else can make you feel better 
  • Look after your physical health – get some more sleep, choose a healthier diet and do some exercise!
  • Practice self care – make time to find activities that will make you happy and do them. Visit people or places that will make you feel better. Treat yourself! Most importantly, be kind to yourself and treat yourself as you would treat a friend – try not to be hard on yourself on your bad days, it’s a process.
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself – accept help when it is offered to you and ask your loved ones if they can look after the baby, do some housework or help with cooking
  • Look after your hygiene – it seems silly to say but personal hygiene may not feel like a priority when you experience depression, try and brush your teeth and have a shower, sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference!
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs – these will only make you feel worse


There are many different talking therapies that are available to support you if you have depression. These may include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – focuses on your thoughts, feelings and behaviour
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) – focuses on identifying problems with the people around you and how they might relate to your feelings

Depending on your symptoms and experiences, you may also be offered medication. There are different antidepressants available and it is important that you discuss this with your doctor as you may need to try a few types to find what works best for you, especially if you are breastfeeding.