Maternity tears, cause and effect

Maternity tears or the baby blues, intense emotional feelings after giving birth. These often occur around the third day and end again around the tenth day. A real peak can be observed that lasts around one to two days. Crane tears are not always fun: at the most unfavorable moments, the woman who has just given birth has to cry. Often the partner is desperate: what is wrong or why this great sadness? But just as quickly, the woman can laugh again. Sometimes, however, maternity tears turn into postnatal depression.

Emotions after childbirth

The hormone oxytocin plays an important role during childbirth. It causes the contraction of the uterus. After delivery, oxytocin ensures milk production. This hormone is therefore present in high concentrations immediately after giving birth. Oxytocin plays an important role in bonding between mother and baby. This hormone makes the mother feel great affection and love for her child. The pain and misery of childbirth are immediately forgotten. These are the first feelings that the mother feels immediately after giving birth.

The maternity period

The postpartum period begins shortly after delivery. During the first eight days, all Dutch women are entitled to maternity care. This care has already been arranged in advance with the maternity centre. The maternity nurse is often also the one who assists the midwife during the birth.
Especially in the first week after giving birth, many feelings and emotions are released by the newly delivered woman. This often starts on or around the third day after delivery. Coincidentally, this coincides with the first day of regulation: the day that milk production increases. The day the intense emotions begin, the woman has to cry a lot. These are also called postpartum tears. Sometimes people talk about the baby blues. Crane tears are a light and mild form of depression.

What do you feel?

Anyone who experiences postpartum tears feels emotionally unstable. The woman can start crying at the slightest thing. This could be the sight of the baby, an argument, a hug or a sweet word. But tears can also spontaneously well up without a clear cause. In addition, there may also be a feeling of short temper, whereby the woman is much more likely to be out of sorts or react angrily. After a few days these feelings disappear again. The real peak lasts one to two days. On or around the 10th day, most feelings have gone. However, it may take some time before the woman feels completely stable again.


The cause of postpartum tears is hormonal. After giving birth, the high levels of pregnancy hormones disappear again. This decline is proceeding quite smoothly. This clearly changes the mood. Fortunately, this is temporary: as soon as the body has adapted to the new hormone level, the postpartum tears also disappear. Very occasionally, the period of postpartum tears continues and turns into postnatal depression. This is a more serious depression that cannot be easily overcome. Because many women only receive guidance from maternity care for a short time, they usually escape the diagnosis of postnatal depression. Behavioral changes are often also attributed to the infamous postpartum tears. Although this all sounds serious, 90 percent of all women who have recently given birth do not experience it. Moreover, women who are breastfeeding are less likely to experience postpartum tears. This is because the hormones drop less quickly during breastfeeding.

Sad because the maternity help is leaving

Many women have these feelings: sadness and emptiness when the maternity assistant leaves. After eight days of care, many women have to say goodbye to their care. Some women look great during the farewell, some shed a tear. But most women have a big cry when the maternity assistant finally closes the door behind them. Although some women did not even have a close relationship with the maternity care provider, they still feel an emptiness. Hormones play a role here too. It is often a matter of getting used to it and realizing that the woman now has to do everything alone. The partner also often returns to work after the maternity period. Fortunately, most women manage to pick up the thread themselves after one to two days and take full care of their baby. Around the tenth day after delivery, most depressed feelings disappear.
For some women it is nice if their partner stays at home for a while in the first few days after the maternity care has left, taking some extra hours off if necessary. Not every woman feels emotionally, but also physically, capable of taking on all tasks again, including caring for the baby. Night feedings in particular require a lot of energy and result in a lack of sleep. Dividing the tasks between husband and wife not only ensures that she gets more rest and can get used to things, but that she can also recover more quickly emotionally. This is because she does not immediately have the feeling of being left alone with the baby. It must be discussed together when the woman will start working alone again. If the feeling persists that she still cannot cope on her own, it is important to ask for help. This can be done with the midwife, GP or child health clinic.

read more

  • After-effects: after giving birth
  • Oxytocin: hormone
Scroll to Top