When Postpartum Isn’t Joyful

Many birthing classes, doctors, midwives, and doulas operate primarily prenatally. If postpartum is mentioned, it’s typically in conjuction with breastfeeding, lochia (post-birth bleeding), or how quickly you can resume sexual activities. Most good birthing classes at least mention postpartum depression, but they often lump it in with “baby blues” and just tell you to call your doctor if you’re still sad after two weeks.

I’m here to say: that’s not enough. There’s been a lot of buzz in recent months because the new standard of care is to screen every expecting mother for prenatal and postpartum depression. This is not a ploy to sell more drugs! This is about a serious condition that can leave even the strongest women without the will to survive it without help.

The key to what will make prenatal and early postpartum screening work is to build a support network. Maybe that includes the psychiatrist that helps you find the right medication at the right doses, the therapist that helps you identify and move past triggers, a support group of other moms who’ve gone through it, or a combination thereof.

As a doula, my eyes are opened wide, hoping that in our relatively short time together I’ll be able to spot symptoms and help before anyone has to suffer in silence. I know that it’s not always easy to see. In the picture below,  would you guess that I’m suffering? is a huge resource for me, both as a mother that has postpartum mood disorders and as a birth worker trying to help with early identification. I strongly recommend getting familiar with that site.


Prenatal education is huge. Did you know that between 14-20% of women suffer from a postpartum mood disorder? While depression is the one we commonly hear about, postpartum anxiety and OCD also occur. Postpartum psychosis is another condition that can occur, although thankfully with this condition it appears less frequently, after approximately 0.1% of births.

Symptoms can include anything from apathetic dullness to intrusive thoughts to an all encompassing rage. For a full, easy to understand list, check out

Please, speak up at your postpartum visits. Even if you just feel off, tell someone. You deserve more than what postpartum mood disorders would let you believe. You deserve to be whole and healthy. You matter.

Don’t forget to like me on Facebook!

11 thoughts on “When Postpartum Isn’t Joyful

  1. One thing to add is that – ‘feeling off’ may be an elusive to diagnose. I had no idea how bad my ppd was because I assumed most of what I was feeling was part and parcel of being a new mother. My perspective was: I’m not happy, I’m tired, I feel hopeless…must be because I now have a child! Maybe I’m just one of those people who hates having a child.

    I didn’t know any better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good point. I didn’t get help after my first child was born for that reason. I justified every emotion (or lack of emotion).
      -I’m not bonding with my baby… because she was in NICU. It’s a defense mechanism.
      -I don’t have the energy to get out off bed… because babies are a lot of work and I’m tired.
      On and on. With my second, my symptoms were too extend for me to ignore.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Postpartum is a BIG subject for me and my clients/students. It took me 4 months to realize I needed help and include it in my class and client discussion so they feel better about taking action sooner if they feel their mood changing for the worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post with lots of great information. I agree that this should be talked about much more in childbirth classes. It is so hard to pinpoint that something is really not right when your whole world has been turned upside down with a new baby. New parents need to be made aware.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s