Baby Blues: Having a Baby Isn't all Fun & Games

Tuesday, 28 April 2009 18:48 Written by  Bonita Holmes

Ieisha was 16. She was a senior in high school. Chante was well into her first year of college. Rhonda and Veronica are twin sisters, and their children are months apart.

These scenarios are descriptions of young mothers who at one time had experienced the “baby blues” or postpartum depression.

According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, postpartum depression is a severe depression in a woman after she has given birth. It may occur soon after delivery or up to a year later. About 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers experience depression.

Many women mistake postpartum depression with a condition called the “baby blues.” It is a temporary condition that is quite common among new mothers.

Symptoms of “baby blues” include tearfulness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, mood swings and loss of appetite. The symptoms of postpartum depression last longer and are more severe. Postpartum depression can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth. They may include thoughts of hurting the baby, thoughts of hurting yourself, or not having any interest in the baby, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center. Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a mental health professional.

Although different, both conditions should not be taken lightly.

Birdie Gunyon Meyer, president of Postpartum Support International, says that the biggest difference between having the “baby blues” and postpartum depression is that the “baby blues” [lasts] two days to two weeks, and the woman is often irritable and sleep deprived. If symptoms last longer than only a few weeks, that’s postpartum depression.

Under what circumstances does it hit a new mom the hardest? What are other factors that onset depression? One of the most common causes of depression for new moms deals with the anxiety of being a good mother; however, there are many minor details that can contribute.

“I was depressed because I was young, and I felt that I had let a lot of people down,” said Ieisha Burrows. “Plus I had school to worry about. Sometimes I would have thoughts of not keeping my baby because I wanted things to go back to normal.”

Burrows was 16 years old when she gave birth to her daughter, and she raised an idea that is common with most young moms who feel that their child is a burden, or that they will be looked at differently because they are a mom at such a young age.

Chante Johnson, 21, shared, “I was working full-time and going to school full-time. I was stressing myself out and putting more on my shoulders than I should have at that time.”

Johnson was 19 years old when she gave birth to her daughter. Having a child is something that takes some getting used to, and it doesn’t happen automatically. Many new moms feel like they may be out of their comfort zones, trying their best to surround themselves around things that are familiar, like school and work.

Many women aren’t aware of organizations such as Postpartum Support International, which is the largest not-for-profit organization that connects and educates professionals, women, psychiatrists and others in order to dismiss all around perinatal mood disorder, explained Meyer. PSI provides access to hospitals, hotlines and chats that women all across the world have access to if they are seeking help with their depression.

Meyer stated that working with PSI is on a volunteer basis. “The volunteers are men and women who are passionate. Everyone has a full-time job elsewhere, and all money comes from donations and membership.”

Meyers mentioned that black women rarely seek help with PSI, stating that, “Black women have a thing about, ‘You’re strong, so you don’t get depression.’”

Another reason many young mothers become extremely depressed or sad is because they no longer have a romantic relationship with the father of the child or they don’t have support from their family, although that is not always the case.

“I had a very supportive mother who was always there through my morning sickness, and I knew she would help with my son” says Rhonda Hudgins. Even though Rhonda had the help of her parents, child’s father and twin sister Veronica, who was also pregnant she still questioned her ability to be a good mother.

“[I was] nervous, scared, excited, worried and unsure,” she said. Her sister, on the other hand, admits to feeling “unloved, overwhelmed with responsibility and extremely lonely.”

Depression directly related to childbirth and becoming a new mom is something that has affected women for a long time, and it will continue to do so. But women are more than capable of overcoming it, especially with the help of friends and family.

Photography By Billy Montgomery

Bonita Holmes

Bonita Holmes

Bonita Holmes, a native of Chicago IL is a sophomore at Columbia College Chicago majoring in journalism with a concentration in News Reporting and Writing. She has worked for many publications such as New Expressions and The Mash, and she plans on changing the scope of media.

Bonita can be reached at