We need to talk. We need to talk about postpartum mood disorders.
(Trigger warning for suicide)
Recently I came across a post by a birth professional that truly disturbs me. The post implied that using medication to treat postpartum mood disorders was simply a placebo. That using medication fails to address the underlying problem. Although they didn’t address what they felt that underlying problem was. I sat there gobsmacked that someone who serves growing families could be so myopic in their views.
This one is personal for me. I lost my mother as an infant to a postpartum mood disorder. After a few emergency room visits, she ultimately committed suicide while my father was at work. Leaving me home alone, my walker tied to a chair for hours. Until my father came home to find us.
To say that a postpartum mood disorder changed the course of my life would be an understatement.
The cause of postpartum mood disorders is a complex network of biological, social, psychological and genetic factors. The approach to treatment will be as diverse as the causes. The truth of the matter is that there is no one right treatment for everyone.
When the root of a postpartum mood disorder is biological or genetic, we do new parents an immense disservice to imply that the use of medication to treat these root causes is merely a placebo. Medication for these families is no more a placebo than insulin is for a person who has diabetes.
Support and community are an important piece of the puzzle. Yet they are just one piece.
For some, that extra boost will be a turning point. For others, all the support in the world will not be able to correct the biological or genetic factors that trigger the anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychosis or PTSD.
As postpartum doulas who support growing families, we support options. We support our clients as they explore their options under the qualified and watchful eye of a medical or psychological care provider.
As postpartum doulas, we come to you free from bias. Free from assumptions. Ready to help, provide information and deliver the support you need when you need it most.
Whether you choose to approach your mental health with lifestyle changes, medications, therapy or a mix of what works best for you, you can feel confident that we are in your corner, 100% of the way.
What we know as postpartum doulas is that perinatal mood disorders do not discriminate. They are the leading cause of maternal death in the first year after birth.
Most often through suicide.
Those with healthy lifestyles are still at risk.
Individuals who have support are still affected.
Those who have a history of depression are most at risk.
Those who have a history of bipolar disorder are much more likely to experience psychosis.
Some who have no documented history of a mental health disorder may first present with symptoms after birth.
Our promise to you here at Tucson & Sierra Vista doulas is that we will support you and your growing family, regardless of the treatment path you choose. With compassion, honesty, and without judgment.
For more information on perinatal mood disorders please visit:
Postpartum Support International
To find local support and resources in southern Arizona please visit: