“It’s just the Baby Blues”

Motherhood should be the most rewarding event in a woman’s life. The media is full of examples of babies gurgling happily and mothers and fathers holding their child with an angelic smile on their faces.I knew, something was wrong with me. After the birth of my first child, I missed this feeling of endless love. This little bundle of joy that entered my body just a couple of days ago, would not let me sleep, and hurt me when it was drinking. My whole body was sore, the thought of my baby wanting to nurse every hour made me cry out of desperation. This state did not go away, not in the first week and not in the second week. I couldn’t get out of bed, had extreme difficulties sleeping at night and was so exhausted and tired, I felt like a zombie.

When I got out of the house, it was just to see the pediatrician for scheduled health checkups to make sure my baby is on par with growth and weight guidelines. I took all my courage and told the pediatrician about my exhaustion and insomnia. “That is just the baby blues, don’t worry it will pass soon”. After another week of barely sleeping and breastfeeding pains, I confessed to my mother in law. All she said is “you are a mother now, and this is part of being one, this is the baby blues and most mothers go through it”. After six weeks I went to my doctor and you can guess, what he said. “It’s just the baby blues”

Today I know I had a full-blown postpartum depression. I exhibited all the symptoms, like feeling sad and hopeless, crying more than usual, unable to sleep, doubting my ability to be a good mother and care for my baby and extreme fatigue (National Institute of Mental Health).

In our applied social psychology class, we learned about incorrect diagnostic decision making and their outcomes. False-negative judgement, is exactly what happened to me. My doctor did not recognize, that I had a post-partum depression and I wasn’t treated for it (Gruman, Schneider & Coutts, 2012, p. 103).

If postpartum depression is not recognized and treated, it can have severe consequences for the mother and her infant. Beside neglect and a lack of bonding between mother and child (National Institute of Mental Health), it can have even devastating ramifications. Some of you might remember the case of Lisette Bamenga. She was a school teacher who poisoned and drowned her two children for no obvious reasons. The public could not understand how a mother could ever do something like this. Bamenga was diagnosed with postpartum depression (Kochman, 2016).

False negative judgments should not be taken lightly. Without the proper treatment, the condition of the disorder will not improve and it might even become much worse, as the example of Lisette Bamenga showed. Professionals that work with new mothers should be educated to use guidelines to distinguish postpartum depression from the baby blues. Besides birth classes, where women learn how to breathe during delivery, we should also have classes teaching mothers how the baby blues distinguishes itself from a postpartum depression. If false negative judgements cannot be prevented, then we have to educate the patient to make the health professional aware of their mistakes.

Gruman, J.A., Schneider, F.W., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications

Kochman, B. (2016, May 17). Ex-teacher who poisoned, drowned her two kids gets 8 years in prison by judge who couldn’t ignore ‘role of post-partum depression’. New York Daily News. https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/ex-teacher-drowned-kids-8-years-prison-article-1.2640369

The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (n.d.). Postpartum Depression Facts. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml



  1. Misdiagnosis can have an incredibly detrimental effect on a person’s psyche no matter the situation. There are so many things that affect our thoughts, emotions, and physical urges – primarily our biological systems and hormones. Although I have not personally experienced post-partum depression, I can understand how it can happen, as women experience so many depths of emotions due to hormonal influence. There are so many women that have shared your experience and it is so important to talk about it, as it will help to destigmatize it and could potentially save lives. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing this difficult experience. False negative judgements can prevent people from getting the help they need and could contribute to feelings of shame and self-loathing.

    Aside from proper diagnosis, other measures could be helpful, like support groups and educational programs. This would allow for a biopsychosocial approach to post-partum depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 1 in 10 new mothers experience post-partum, but luckily psychotherapy, strong social support, and antidepressants have been proven helpful in treatment (cleavelandclinic.com). I really like your idea of adding an educational element to birthing classes, which can cover the signs and symptoms, and treatment options for post-partum depression. This could not only help in allowing new mothers to self-evaluate, but also to ensure they have strong social support ahead of giving birth.


    Cleaveland Clinic. (2020, February). Depression After the Birth of a Child or Pregnancy Loss Prevention. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9312-depression-after-the-birth-of-a-child-or-pregnancy-loss/prevention

    Gruman, J. A., Schneider, F. W., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2017). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  2. Postpartum depression should always be taken seriously. It can affect women differently. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health. (womenshealth.gov, 2019) The baby blues usually go away within 3 to 5 days of starting. Postpartum depression symptoms last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression often begins within the first month of birth, but it can start during pregnancy or up to one year after birth. Untreated postpartum depression may affect your parenting capacity. Such as not having enough energy, mood swings, having trouble focusing on the needs of the baby, and your own needs as well. At least you reached out and knew something was wrong. Although that is not always the same outcome for everyone. If not appropriately treated, tragedies could end up happening as the case of Lisette Bamenga. I feel like cases like this bring awareness to the misunderstanding that its just the baby blues. Postpartum depression has to be taken seriously.

    Postpartum depression. (2019, May 14). Retrieved February 17, 2020, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression

  3. Lauren Bainbridge

    I’m so sorry that happened to you! It’s really lucky that nothing happened to you or the baby, due to the doctors poor judgement. When my baby was born, I had post partum anxiety and it was horrible. I was so terrified that anything I did was going to hurt the baby by accident, so I was terrified to do things. Luckily, I had a ton of support because I was living with family and they did a lot for me and my baby, because of what I was going through.

    It’s a shame that people discredit the idea of PPD, while it is a real and devastating thing. I think that people just EXPECT mothers to feel so happy all the time with their new babies and don’t understand why someone could be depressed. But, as you know, it’s not about the baby or even you, it’s just a chemical reaction gone wrong in your brain. Mental health is ignored so much and it causes devastating consequences. Doctors really need to be taught more about mental health and if they don’t feel comfortable handling it, they should be sending patients to see a psychiatrist.

    Anyway, great topic to discuss.

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