The emotional and physical changes surrounding childbirth can be demanding. “I had never heard of postpartum psychosis when it happened to me,” shares one mother on a NAMI Blog post. “I was never screened after either of my pregnancies or educated about the possibility of postpartum [mental health conditions].”

The “fourth trimester” after childbirth can be a test for new parents— from breastfeeding challenges and post-delivery healing to navigating postpartum mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or psychosis. In this section, you’ll find guidance for recognizing signs that you may need help and strategies for safeguarding your mental health during this tender stage. Addressing realities with self-compassion, not shame, is key to nurturing your mental health and allows you to embrace the joy of new parenthood.

If you or someone you know is experiencing serious mental health symptoms anytime during the perinatal period, including postpartum, it’s crucial to get assistance promptly. Never hesitate to seek help for the safety of yourself and your baby.

  • Call or text 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
  • Call or text 1-833-0943-7466 National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
  • Call or text 1-800-944-4773 Postpartum International Support
  • Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room

While the list below does not cover every possible symptom, they may indicate the need for immediate intervention. If you notice any of these signs, trust your instincts and reach out to your health care provider or use the emergency resources above:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Heightened irritability
  • Confusion or feelings of being lost
  • Difficulty communicating effectively
  • Severe anxiety or agitation
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Obsessive thoughts about the baby
  • Urges or impulses to harm yourself or your baby
  • Hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing things that are not present
  • Delusions or unusual beliefs that are not based in reality

Learn more: Postpartum Support International, Mayo Clinic

It’s important for new mothers and families to understand postpartum conditions that can develop after giving birth. Recognizing the symptoms allows parents to seek timely support and treatment. One mother shares on a NAMI Blog post how mental health providers helped identify her disturbing thoughts about her infant. “They recognized that my intrusive thoughts were, in fact, symptoms of OCD.”

Explore the types of postpartum conditions. There are different possible postpartum conditions with unique symptoms. Many of these conditions are common, and most are treatable with professional support.

  • Know that any new parent can experience postpartum difficulties regardless of risks, but some potential factors include:
    • Prior history of mental health conditions
    • Traumatic birth experience
    • Lack of a support system
    • Family history of perinatal mood issues
  • Check out these descriptions for postpartum conditions, but remember symptoms can vary:
    • Postpartum depression involves persistent sadness, fear, exhaustion, and irritability.
    • Postpartum anxiety involves excessive and/or disproportionate worry and racing thoughts.
    • Postpartum OCD involves recurring, upsetting, intrusive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors.
    • Postpartum psychosis involves disorganized thinking and experiences of altered reality that can include delusions and hallucinations.
    • The “baby blues” refers to typical sadness and mood swings shortly after delivery that usually fade within a few days to one to two weeks.
  • Look for more detailed information on each condition at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health website.
  • Find out if your pediatrician screens for parental mental health during well-baby visits. Open communication helps make sure that new parents get timely support.

Use screening tools as resources.

Understand “baby blues.”

  • For cases like the “baby blues,” you might see symptoms, such as:
    • Unexplainable mood changes
    • Generally happy feelings, with some low mood
    • Lasts less than two weeks after delivery
  • The cluster of symptoms described as the “baby blues” usually resolves on their own, but it might help getting connected with others going through the same thing.
  • Baby Blues Connection, Postpartum Depression, and Postpartum Support International provide links to groups and information.
  • Consider these steps for “baby blues” care. The Mayo Clinic advises to:

    • Make positive lifestyle choices.
      • Weave in daily opportunities for physical outlets, such as taking your baby for a stroll or other low-impact ways to be active.
      • Try to get enough rest.
      • Eat nourishing foods and avoid alcohol.
    • Set realistic expectations.
      • Let go of the pressure to maintain a perfect living space.
      • Prioritize what matters and focus your energy on what’s truly essential.
      • Do what you can and leave the rest.
    • Make time for yourself.
      • Take some time to unwind with activities that refuel your happiness.
      • Ask a partner, family member, friend, or sitter to take care of the baby.
      • Don’t neglect nurturing your important relationships.
      • Set aside quality time to connect with your partner, family, or friends.
    • Avoid isolation.
      • Talk with your partner, family, and friends about how you’re feeling.
      • Ask other mothers about their experiences.
      • Consider support groups, including those offered locally or through national organizations like Postpartum Support International.
    • Ask for help.
      • Open up to the people close to you and let them know you need help.
      • If someone offers to babysit, take them up on it.
      • Take a nap if you can sleep, or perhaps see a movie or meet for coffee with friends.
      • Consider learning parenting techniques to improve your baby’s sleep and soothe crying.

    Learn more: Mayo Clinic

    Understand moderate, severe, and complex postpartum conditions.

    • For moderate, severe, and postpartum condition, you might see symptoms, such as:
      • Feeling sad, worthless, or hopeless
      • Loss of interest or pleasure in life, hard time concentrating
      • Difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite
      • Thoughts of harming self or the baby
      • Lasts for more than 2 weeks

    Consider these steps for moderate, severe and complex postpartum care.  

    • Talk with a health care provider if there is a mental health concern during or after pregnancy.
    • Explore treatment options, which may include therapy and medications, alone or in combination. It’s important to compare the risks and benefits of medications to those of untreated mental health conditions during pregnancy.
    • Note that while medications are often helpful, some have fewer risks than others during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Talk with your health care provider to determine the best treatment plan.
    • In addition to seeking professional help, search for local in-person groups and online forums through NAMI, Postpartum Support International, Newborn & Parenting Support, and Postpartum Depression to combat isolation and stigma, share advice, and make friends.

    Check out these resources to learn more.

    Breastfeeding has so many wonderful benefits for you and your baby, but it can come with unexpected hurdles that can leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Find out what some of the common issues are and what you might be able to do.

    Know what some common issues are. Many women encounter difficulties like sore nipples, engorged breasts, recurrent clogs, and low supply worries, especially in the first few weeks. These often resolve as feeding is established. Knowing what’s typical allows moms to ride out the learning curve.

    Find out how mental health medications may impact breastfeeding. With open and honest conversations, many women are able to successfully breastfeed while taking needed mental health medications. The key is getting the right information and support to make the choice that’s best for you and your baby.

    Watch for signs you may need additional breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding can be physically and emotionally challenging, especially when issues come up.

    • Breastfeeding challenges include:
      • Difficulty with the baby latching onto the breast
      • Severe pain that interferes with breastfeeding
      • Sudden and significant decrease in milk supply
      • Symptoms of infection, such as redness or pain in the breast
      • Difficulty for the baby in gaining weight adequately
      • Feelings of overwhelming stress, anxiety, or depression
      • Experiencing negative emotions before releasing milk, known as dysphoric milk ejection reflex
    • Seek expert help early to address both the physical breastfeeding difficulties and the potential impact on your mental health.
    • Check out these breastfeeding support resources from,, and the Wooster Community Hospital Healthcare System.

    Get in-person lactation assistance. An in-person lactation consultant is a health care professional specializing in breastfeeding education and support. They provide hands-on guidance to help you and your baby establish a successful breastfeeding routine. Their personalized advice and demonstrations make a big difference, especially for new moms.

    • Seek their help if you notice any potential factors with your baby’s mouth or your breasts that could affect proper latching and feeding. Lactation consultants can also address your nutritional needs, concerns with milk supply, and more.
    • Find out if your hospital’s maternity wing provides lactation consultant assistance. Ask if you can get breastfeeding advice before you are discharged from the hospital after childbirth.
    • Look for local lactation consultants that offer outpatient help by checking out the United States Lactation Consultant Association directory.

    Seek alternatives to breastfeeding. If your mental health is declining because of breastfeeding challenges, it’s important to consider alternatives.

    • Explore exclusive pumping (pumping your milk into a bottle for the baby to feed from) or formula feeding.
    • Check out these five signs you may need to stop breastfeeding from The Lactation Network .

    Access online tools, resources, and communities.

    Sleep often falls to the bottom of the priority list for new parents. However, getting enough rest plays a profound role in maintaining mental health after childbirth.

    Recognize the risks of sleep deprivation. Studies show that insomnia and sleep deprivation greatly increase risks of developing postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, anger issues, and more. People with a pre-existing mental health condition may experience recurring or intensifying symptoms with sleep deprivation. Without proper rest, coping skills erode. Healing from delivery and resetting both body and mind depend heavily on adequate sleep.

    • Contact your health care provider to avoid more serious problems.
    • Find out more about sleep behavior on
    • Check out’s “Postpartum Insomnia” article.

    Involve partners, friends, and family. Rested parents mean healthier families.

    • Take a tag-team approach that allows caregivers a longer overnight sleep block and to take naps during the daytime when possible.
    • Call on relatives, friends, or postpartum doulas to assist with feedings and meals, if possible.

    Practice good sleep hygiene.

    • Limit screen time before bed.
    • Keep your room cool, dark and quiet, and use white noise, if preferred.
    • Try to structure a predictable schedule around the baby’s needs.
    • Check out recommendations.

    Be aware of mental health changes. Sleep deprivation can stir up underlying mental health conditions as described in Momwell’s “Protecting Maternal Sleep: The Relationship between Sleep Deprivation and Postpartum Depression.”

    If you are a teen mother facing postpartum mental health issues, there are groups and resources tailored to you. These are some things to consider:

    Look for teen-specific support groups.

    • Find groups for teen or young mothers through searches on websites like Postpartum Support International to find a safe space to share experiences, get guidance, and find resources relevant to your unique circumstances.
    • Check out if your school offers services for pregnant and parenting teens, including counseling, parenting classes, and access to community resources. Take advantage of these resources to get the support you need while balancing your academic responsibilities.
    • Look into local organizations, clinics, and community centers that offer services for teen parents. These resources may include parenting classes, childcare assistance, access to health care, and referrals to additional support services.

    Seek professional help.

    • Don’t hesitate to reach out to a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional who specializes in working with teen mothers. Professional support can provide coping strategies, emotional validation, and guidance for dealing with the unique challenges of teen parenthood.

    Involve trusted adults.

    • Lean on trusted adults in your life, such as family members, teachers, school counselors, or mentors, for emotional support and guidance. They may offer valuable insights, practical assistance, and a listening ear during challenging times.

    Nonbinary and transgender people report higher rates of perinatal mood issues when denied proper help. They also encounter more breast/chestfeeding challenges. Here are some strategies to get the care you deserve:

    Seek inclusive health care providers.

    • Look for providers who are knowledgeable and affirming of nonbinary and trans identities and respect your gender identity.
    • Make sure they can provide culturally competent care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
    • Bring an advocate to appointments to help ask questions and bring attention to any mistreatment.

    Explore LGBTQ+ services in your community.

    • Look for local LGBTQ+ centers that offer counseling, support groups, and help navigating systems specifically for nonbinary and transgender individuals.

    Connect with online peer networks.

    Prioritize self-care.

    • Take time to prioritize your mental health during the perinatal period.
    • Practice self-care strategies that work for you, whether it’s meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or engaging in creative pursuits.

    The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) journey brings profound emotional challenges. Take proactive steps to protect your mental health along the way:

    Expect a rollercoaster of emotions. Seeing tiny infants with medical challenges may provoke fear, grief, trauma, and helplessness.

    • Recognize that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, especially when faced with uncertainties about your baby’s health.
    • Take time to process these emotions, and remember that it’s also okay to ask for help.

    Seek counseling and peer support.

    • Consider exploring therapy to help process the trauma of birth and NICU experiences. Therapy can provide coping strategies and a safe space to discuss your challenges.
    • Think about joining support groups or programs where you can connect with others who have gone through similar experiences. Online forums offer accessible advice and encouragement whenever you need it.

    Practice daily stress management.

    • Prioritize your mental health by taking breaks for fresh air, food, and grounding exercises, such as deep breathing, meditation, journaling, and stretching.
    • Use hospital resources such as social workers, patient advocates, spiritual care people, and counseling services.
    • Seek support from local community resources, such as meal trains, fundraisers, and childcare assistance.

    While much attention goes to nourishing new mothers after childbirth, the mental health needs of non-birthing parents, such as fathers and partners, can sometimes be overlooked. However, their mental health directly impacts the whole family. These are some actionable steps non-birthing parents can take to prioritize their mental health during this transition:

    Seek support networks.

    • Connect with other non-birthing parents through support groups, online forums, or community organizations.
    • Share your experiences and concerns with peers who understand your perspective and can provide valuable validation.

    Get professional help if needed.

    • Seek help from a mental health professional if you’re experiencing persistent feelings of anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed. professional.
    • Check out Mind Body Pregnancy’s “Postpartum Depression in Dads” to learn about risk factors, such as economic pressures, lack of social support, and prior mental health challenges.
    • Decrease these risks by developing your social network and getting therapy or counseling to provide tools and strategies to cope with challenges and improve your mental health.

    Communicate openly with your partner.

    • Keep open and honest lines of communication with your partner about your emotions, concerns, and needs during this transition.
    • Express your feelings and seek understanding to strengthen your relationship and promote mutual support.

    Take breaks and delegate responsibilities.

    • Recognize the importance of self-care, and prioritize taking breaks to recharge and rest.
    • Delegate caregiving tasks when possible, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from friends, family members, or professional services.

    Engage in stress-relief activities.

    • Add stress-relief activities to your daily routine, such as intentional movement, mindfulness practices, hobbies, or relaxation techniques.
    • Make time for activities that rejuvenate or calm you, alleviate stress, and promote your mental health.

    NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
    text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).