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Essential information for patient and family

  • Baby blues affects up to 50% of new mothers and is usually self-limiting.
  • Postnatal depression is common, affecting 10-15% of new mothers; puerperal psychosis is a much rarer condition (0.5-1% of all births).
  • It can be very difficult for new mothers to admit that they are not coping or feeling depressed at a time they perceive should be happy.
  • Mothers may be concerned that if they are honest about their feelings their baby will be taken into care.
  • Mothers with postnatal depression do not usually harm their babies; babies may be at risk from mothers suffering from puerperal psychosis.
  • Emotional and practical support from family and friends is very valuable (ref 204)
  • The outcome for most mothers with postnatal depression is very good, provided they receive appropriate care.
  • If untreated, postnatal depression may be prolonged and can have an effect on mother-baby attachment and in turn on the child’s educational, emotional and behavioural experiences.



204 Ray KL, Hodnett ED. Caregiver support for postpartum depression (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2003. Oxford: Update Software. (CI) Women with postpartum (postnatal) depression who are supported by caregivers are less likely to remain depressed, although the most effective support from caregivers remains unknown.

Last edited: 26/1/2004

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