The baby pinks: What is postpartum euphoria?
We’ve all heard of the baby blues. But do you know the warning signs of the baby pinks?
Welcoming a new baby into the world is a life-changing time. Emotions running high, excitement abounds, anticipation at the new, tiny person who will be joining your family. Yet for many of us, the journey isn’t without its challenges.
Most of us who have given birth will have been warned about the baby blues. According to the UK National Screening Committee, as many as eight in 10 women experience the baby blues following the birth of their child, while it’s thought around 30% of new parents will experience postpartum depression.
What are the baby blues? Everything you need to know
Typically lasting up to two weeks, most of us will experience a mild case of the baby blues. We may feel emotional, irrational or overwhelmed. We may get tearful, irritable, or moody, or feel down or anxious without knowing why. While the exact cause of the baby blues isn’t known, it’s thought that the rapidly changing hormone levels following birth, combined with the lack of sleep and increased pressure at looking after a newborn baby may be significant contributing factors.
For most people who give birth, symptoms will pass within a few days. Having the support of friends and family can help some people, giving them the chance to talk over how they are feeling. For others, putting a temporary ban on new visitors can be more helpful, so they can feel like they have breathing space to bond with their baby without feeling overwhelmed.
If your symptoms begin to get worse, you start to have thoughts about harming yourself or your baby, or your symptoms don’t begin to ease after two weeks, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Speaking with your midwife if you haven’t yet been discharged, your health visitor, or GP should be the next step towards finding the right kind of help for you. If you’re worried about your or your baby’s safety, seek help immediately.
But what about the baby pinks? What are they, how do they affect those who have given birth, and do you need to seek help if you’re showing signs?
What are the baby pinks?
Also known as postpartum euphoria and postpartum hypomania, around one in 10 women and people who give birth will experience the baby pinks. When people talk about the baby pinks, they are referring to feelings of extreme euphoria or mild mania experienced by some people who have given birth. You may feel like you are overly full of energy, or like you don’t need to sleep. Others may notice that you are talking too fast, aren’t able to consentrate, or your behaviour seems impulsive or otherwise unusual.
While the effects of the baby pinks can last for around six to eight weeks, some may experience it for a week or two. Counsellor and midwife Samantha Phillis explains more about the baby blues and baby pinks.
“The baby pinks are the opposite [of the baby blues] really. It’s where you feel a real intense feeling of happiness and elation, and it’s all to do with the hormone oxytocin which you release in flood loads after having your baby. And that can just make you feel like you’re in this sort of like what we like to call the baby moon, where you’ve just had the baby and you’re in this glow of lovely happy feelings.”
Are the baby pinks more of a cause of concern for those who have experienced ill mental health previously? Samantha explains,
“If you’ve experienced bipolar depression before, or you’ve had episodes of mania, the baby pinks can be a little scary because it can feel sometimes like a manic episode. So if you have had experience of bipolar or manic depression, it’s certainly worth checking out how you’re feeling with your GP or mental health professional. If you’ve got no history of this and you feel this elated feeling that is absolutely fine, a little bit like the baby blues, it peeks around three to seven days and then those hormones just settle down.”
Some people experience both the baby blues and the baby pinks intermittently, while others may experience just one or neither. The exact cause of the baby pinks is still unknown, however, some researchers believe that they have found a connection between night-time births or long labour, and manic episodes. Those who have had a history of mood disorders may be at higher risk of experiencing postpartum euphoria.
But are the baby pinks really a cause for concern, if you haven’t experienced episodes of mania or bipolar depression before? Isn’t being happy a good thing for new parents?
Should I seek help and support for postpartum euphoria?
For those with mild postpartum hypomania, they may not need extra help and support. For example, if you experience mild mood swings that go away after the first two weeks following giving birth. However, the baby pinks can come with their own worries and risks. For some, spotting the signs can be tricky, as they may dismiss symptoms as a ‘normal’ new mum or parent glow. When left unchecked, a new parent experiencing postpartum euphoria may not realise they are pushing themselves too far, overexerting themselves and undertaking risky behaviour that could be harmful to their own health or their baby’s.
Some experts believe that those who experience postpartum euphoria may be at higher risk of experiencing postnatal depression. Studies have shown anywhere between one in 10, and nearly half (47.5%) of women will meet the criteria to be considered to have postnatal depression within the first year of giving birth. Affecting people who give birth of any age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background, postnatal depression can leave you feeling unable to function normally, and may negatively impact you across different areas of your life. When left untreated, it can last for months or even years. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms, and where to get help.
If you think you or someone you care about may be experiencing intense moods or symptoms that are interfering with your ability to look after yourself or your baby, it’s important to seek help. The sooner you do, the sooner you can begin feeling more like yourself and can begin enjoying time with your baby to the fullest.
Finding help and support
Needing help for your mental health and wellbeing is never a weakness or a failure. Many new parents worry that if they speak up about ill mental health, that others will perceive them as a bad parent, blame them, or fear that they may no longer be allowed to keep their baby. Speaking up and seeking help means you are doing what is best for you and your baby, and you will get the help needed much sooner.
The baby blues, baby pinks, and postnatal depression are all extremely common amongst new parents. It’s never too late – or too early – to ask for help. Depending on what you are struggling with, you may be offered talking therapy (counselling) or medication (for severe postnatal depression). Typically, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is offered to help you better understand your thoughts, behaviours, and to move towards enjoying being a new parent. Depending on where you live, specialist services may be available in the form of perinatal mental health services, community mental health teams, or mother and baby units (MBUs). A very small number of people who give birth (between two and four in every 1000) will need to be admitted to an MBU.
To find out more about mental health problems that can be triggered by childbirth and pregnancy, the types of support available, and what you should be looking for in a counsellor if you experience postnatal depression or euphoria, visit Counselling-Directory.org.uk or enter your details in the search bar below to find an experienced, qualified therapist online or in-person near you.