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Why Postpartum Moms Need to Talk About How They Are Feeling: Shamed into silence

New moms shouldn’t have to explain, justify, defend or substantiate the reasons they do things or the way they are feeling.

But we live in a culture that demands that they do so, usually indirectly, but sometimes, blatantly. Do this. Don’t do that. Feed this way, not that way. Go here, not there. Wear this, not that. It’s mind-boggling, even for the most stable and well adjusted mommy-brain. Mothers are constantly put in an untenable position where they must stand their ground and assert with clarity and conviction, what they are doing and why.

And then we wonder why they hesitate to tell us how they are feeling when they are besieged by symptoms of depression and anxiety. We wonder why they retreat deeper into isolation, fearing the public flogging if they dare disclose the truth of what they are thinking and experiencing. Regrettably, the reality is, they ARE judged. They are indeed judged by their family, their doctors and their peers. They are told how they should feed their baby, how they should feel, what they should to do feel better and what will happen if they don’t. The judgment doesn’t always come in the form of condemnation. Sometimes it is shrouded in words of love or support so it’s hard to know what is what. That can make a postpartum brain spin relentlessly.

Therefore, postpartum women shut down. They suffer in silence and try desperately to simply get through the day with no one noticing how bad they feel or how much difficulty they are having.

Still, the message from the PPD community is to challenge this inertia and push forward despite the very real obstacles. Your suffering matters. You need to talk about your postpartum depression. It is real. It is treatable.

For women with prenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety, the list of help-seeking barriers is extensive:

  • Fear that someone will judge you. Stigma and shame are pervasive.

  • Fear that someone will label you a bad mother or worse, take your baby away.