Feeling many different emotions is normal after having a baby

Having a baby is a huge life event and a time of change for both you and your partner. It is normal to feel many different emotions when becoming parents or caregivers, and having a baby, whether it’s your first baby or you already have children. We call the time of pregnancy and the first year following birth “the perinatal period”.

Many new birth parents and caregivers will experience a surge in emotions in the days following the birth. This is down to brain, body, and hormone changes as well as changes in sleeping, eating and general patterns in your daily life that come along after birth.

People often feel tearful, irritable, and overwhelmed in these first few days and couple of weeks. If you continue to struggle with these feelings beyond a couple of weeks please speak to your health visitor, midwife or your GP, since this could be a sign that some extra help might be useful for you.

There are times when these usual ups and downs might become more of a worry to you or to those around you. Low mood (and depression) and problems with anxiety are the most common mental health difficulties that come along in this perinatal period but of course, there are others to be aware of.

For instance, some mothers or birth parents will experience issues linked with birth trauma (if the birth was traumatic) and there are more serious mental health issues that can come along, although not as often, such as psychosis (losing touch with reality) and bipolar disorder. These issues can also affect partners too, so it is important that you keep in touch with each other about your emotional health.

Whether you have had mental health difficulties before and already have a healthcare professional to support you, or this is your first time, it is important that you reach out so that you can be offered the right kind of support.

Low mood and ups and downs are part of life but sometimes feelings become hard to shake. This is what to look out for:

  • You are struggling to find pleasure in anything, even things that you usually love or enjoy doing.
  • Feeling sad, angry, agitated, or numb. You might be very critical of yourself or others or feel guilty about things you have or haven’t done.
  • You might be finding it hard to connect with people around you, your partner and/ or your baby or children.

You can discuss how you are feeling with your healthcare professional, and they can offer you support.

Medication is one option to assist with depression.

The latest evidence says that gentle exercise, setting yourself some small goals and talking things through is equally if not more effective. The five ways to wellbeing is also a good place to start exploring what may help (see below).

Feeling nervous and anxious at times is normal; our brain is designed to keep us safe, and it sets off an alarm (the anxiety response) inside the body to get us ready for dealing with risks. Sometimes this goes off when we don’t need it to though or becomes very sensitive and this is when our anxiety can get out of hand.

Levels of anxiety often increase in the perinatal period because of the extra responsibility of having a baby. Anxiety becomes more of a problem if you are struggling to calm yourself or you have started to avoid certain people or situations because you feel so anxious.

Panic attacks are horrible moments where anxiety builds to a peak and forces us into an overreaction where we feel as though something terrible is about to happen or as though the only way to deal with our anxiety is to avoid going out.

The most effective ways of dealing with anxiety are learning about your anxiety response and finding ways (through how you react to it) to help yourself. Getting rest, eating well and exercising are also very effective. Sometimes medication can come in useful too to help you get back on track so you can then use these other ways of coping.

Sometimes anxiety tips over into more serious problems such as Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD shows itself in different ways, such as through being concerned about cleanliness or about harm coming to you or your baby. It is usual for new parents to worry about whether their baby is breathing, but with OCD recurrent checking is common. This can result in you doing things to try to cancel out the worrying thoughts, like cleaning too much or not allowing anyone to touch your baby. OCD can respond very well to psychological treatment too.

Intrusive thoughts. These are automatic thoughts that pop into our minds when we don’t want them to and are often strange or upsetting. Everyone gets thoughts like this; they don’t mean that you are a bad person or that you will act on them. They are just thoughts; they are not real. These can increase during the perinatal period and feel overwhelming. You can talk to a healthcare professional about them if they are really worrying you.

Postpartum psychosis is a more serious mental health issue that can come along after having a baby. This can feel very scary as often people are unaware that they are the one losing touch with reality, often there is a sense that everyone else is wrong and you are right in your feelings.

It is a more complex mental health problem and there are many ingredients to it including: hormonal surges, whether you have had previous mental health issues, past trauma, and your personality and expectations for parenthood.

Psychosis means “losing touch with reality” and shows itself via having strong thoughts that you or your baby are coming to harm or that you are a very special person, and you have special powers. It can come along with strong feelings of anxiety too or on the flip side, you might have enormous amounts of energy. People around you might feel worried on your behalf even if you don’t feel worried.

There are specialist teams to help with psychosis and it is possible to recover and also to go on and have more babies and not experience psychosis afterwards. The important thing with this is to let people help you and to tell someone if you are worried about any thoughts or feelings you are having that feel unusual.

It is important to seek help if you think you are struggling with your mental health as it is unlikely to get better without support, and it could impact on the care of your baby.

Contact your health visitor, midwife or GP. They have experience in assessing and supporting parents with perinatal mental health problems. 

They will be able to carry out a full assessment by asking you several questions and may ask you to complete a questionnaire. This will enable them to offer you the best support.

Help is available in a range of different forms including self-help advice, talking support and psychological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication. For severe mental health problems your health visitor, midwife or GP can refer you to a specialist perinatal mental health team.

Be reassured that telling a healthcare professional that you are struggling does not mean they will automatically tell a social worker. Any decisions about separating babies from their birth parents is always a last resort and happens in only a minority of cases when there are complex problems.

  • For ideas on things you can do to bond with your baby as a dad or partner: Getting to know your baby :: Derbyshire Family Health Service
  • Our baby brain video series looks at how baby's brains develop and offers ideas on how to bond with them and help them develop into happy and confident children: Baby brain development - YouTube
  • Ideas for bonding with a breastfed baby and supporting your breastfeeding partner: We're here even when we disagree :: Derbyshire Family Health Service
  • Information on supporting your partner's mental health and your own mental health as a dad/partner: Dads & Partners : Healthier Together
  • The DadPad app is an easy-to-use, freely downloadable resource for new dads and dads-to-be in the Derbyshire area, packed with relevant information, as well as details on local support groups and service providers. The app also provides dads with guidance on how to support and seek help (when needed) for their partners and themselves as they adjust to their new roles, and cope with the physical and emotional strains that this can place on individuals and relationships.

The app covers topics such as:

  • Feeding, holding, changing and cleaning your baby
  • Surviving without sleep and coping with crying
  • Getting to know your baby
  • Home safety and first aid
  • Looking after yourself and supporting your partner

Although we hope that this DadPad will help you and your family with some of the questions and problems that may arise over the coming weeks, always remember that, if you are unsure about anything to do with your baby’s health, you should contact your midwife, health visitor or GP. 

Remember, too, that the health visitor service is not only for mum, but for dad as well, even if you are not all living together.

Download the app from the app store or Google Play. Once you’ve downloaded the app onto your device, you will be prompted to enter your Derbyshire postcode.

The five ways to wellbeing are factors that have been shown in health and social care research to make people feel more settled and happy in their lives. They are key ingredients to feeling happier overall. These ideas can be used during pregnancy and after birth to maintain a sense of feeling good.


Feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a human need. Having close friendly relationships and people to talk to protects you from mental ill-health.

Pregnancy and parenting, especially for the first time, are so new and throw up so many challenges you won't have had to face before. Knowing and connecting to others in the same situation really helps. But the great thing is that for many it is a time when it is easier to make lots of new connections in your local community. Getting out and chatting to other parents in the park, or where you can, is a good idea.


Being active can help with anxiety and depression as well as improving your sense of wellbeing. Some people love to exercise regularly, for others moving their body can feel like a chore. Remember though, you don’t need to do a class or a paid activity. Slower-paced activities are also helpful. You don’t have to stop exercising through pregnancy either, (unless advised by a medical person) being active is very good for you and your baby.


Also known as “mindfulness” it is the action of trying to be in the present instead of thinking (and worrying) about the future. This can really help when you have extra worries about your baby. On your way to work or the shops, try and keep your mind on what is happening around you, instead of thinking about what to have for dinner or how much you must do or if your baby is OK. Try to remember the simple things that give you joy.


Doing an act of kindness can make you happy. Even small things can help others; holding a door open for a stranger, answering a post on a parents’ forum about pregnancy or sending a kind text to a friend who is struggling. Giving to others gives us a sense of wellbeing.


Learning new things and setting goals can help you feel good. Pregnancy and parenting is a time of learning for all parents. Whether you're having twins, pregnant after loss, or looking forward to your third baby, there are lots of ways to find out all about any type of pregnancy or parenting.

It can also be helpful to stay in touch with, and keep up, your other interests outside of babies and pregnancies. If you had hobbies before having a baby, try and keep your love for them alive even if you don’t get to do them as much.

Having time to focus on you and your partner, on your family, friends or on your bond with the children you already have is important. It can be hard not to lose yourself in pregnancy and then struggle after the birth to keep connected to people when you are busy. This is the time when you might really need a helping hand or a friendly shoulder to cry on.

An important note about your intimate relationships: pregnancy and post birth can be a vulnerable time for some couples. Where there has been control or violence in the past this can come back again, sadly also it can appear for the first time. It is very important that you reach out and ask for extra help if this happens in your relationship. You won’t be judged; these issues are complicated. Your health and wellbeing as well as the wellbeing of your baby will be at the centre of any conversations you have about this.

Call us on 01246 515100

Our information and support line for parents, carers and young people is available Monday to Friday, 9am - 4.30pm, except bank holidays.

(This telephone number is not an emergency service number, for urgent or out of hours information, please see here).

Please note: If no one answers your call, please leave a message with your child’s name, date of birth and a brief reason for the call.

Please be assured that when leaving a message you will receive a call back from one of the team between the hours of 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, however this may not be on the same day.

When we call back, our numbers will appear as private. If your phone does not accept these, please leave an alternative number on your message. 

Text: 07507 327769

This is a confidential text messaging service for parents/ carers of 0 - 5 year olds, providing advice and support from one of our healthcare professionals from Monday to Friday, 9am – 4.30pm, except bank holidays.

Our podcast called, Bump in the Road, aims to bring to light and normalise the struggles that many parents and carers face throughout pregnancy, the newborn stage, and up until their baby is 1 (the perinatal period).

With stories from other parents, to advice and information from health visitors, to coping strategies from psychologists, there's something for anyone who's in the perinatal period.

Listen on Spotify or YouTube.