Battling Endometriosis while Suffering From Postpartum Depression

Endometriosis is a condition that plagues nearly 10% of women but is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.  Like postpartum depression, endometriosis is something that isn’t talked about enough.  It causes a considerable amount of pain but so many women learn to live with it and don’t seek the proper treatment.  And those who do seek help, are often told it’s nothing, because endometriosis doesn’t show up on ultrasounds or x-rays or ct scans.

While there is no link between endometriosis and postpartum depression, they do have a lot in common:
  • They are affected by hormones
  • They affect women in their childbearing years
  • They are under-diagnosed conditions
  • They are invisible diseases
  • They are stigmatized and need more awareness

Every women’s struggle with endometriosis is different, just like postpartum depression.  Here is MY story…

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

Battling Endometriosis While Suffering from Postpartum Depression

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


It was a mere coincidence that both my endometriosis and postpartum depression were diagnosed at the same time, because the two conditions are not exactly linked to each other.  But ever since that diagnosis, they have been intertwined throughout my journey of highs and lows.

It all began when my daughter was 5 months old.  Actually, the postpartum depression symptoms had been going on for a few months already but I was still in denial. 

We took a family trip to Disney World (both kids were still free to get in, so we thought we’d take advantage)!  Despite exclusively breastfeeding, I got my first postpartum period – right there in the Magic Kingdom.  

I was disappointed and annoyed but what else could I do, on this trip of a lifetime, but suck it up and waddle around in blood-soaked pants for the rest of the day?

The next day, we planned to go to Cocoa Beach.  When you’re from the Canadian Prairies, trips to the ocean are few and far between, so I was definitely NOT missing out on it.  I bought the biggest box of tampons I could find and tried my best to enjoy the day.

But the cramping was worse than labor pains and the bleeding was relentless.

I made it through that vacation but the following month was even worse.  I probably wouldn’t have said anything to my doctor, except that it happened to fall on the same day as my daughter’s 6 month checkup.

I was lucky enough to have a great doctor with whom I already had a close relationship, and it was in that appointment that I broke down crying – overcome by the pain of the menstrual cramps and the dark place my mind had been in for the last 6 months.

Based solely on my symptoms, he figured it was endometriosis that was causing the pain and heavy bleeding.  It was the first time I had ever heard the word.  When he told me that it can cause infertility, I actually felt relieved because I had zero desire to have another baby.  He gave me some samples of birth control pills and advised me to take them continuously in an effort to “skip” my periods.

Then we discussed the postpartum depression and came up with a treatment plan.

Prenatal & Postpartum Depression - Vanessa's Story
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I was supposed to follow up with him in a few months to see how things were going.  But by then, we had relocated for my husband’s job – a 9 hour drive away.

For a while, things were alright…

My mind was distracted by the move and I remembered to take my birth control pills everyday, avoiding the painful cramping that accompanied my periods.

Until I ran out of samples.

Trying to find a good doctor in a new town where I didn’t know anyone was tougher than I thought.  So I chose to suffer instead.  I loaded up on painkillers and wore adult diapers to soak up the extreme amounts of blood and just dealt with it.

With each month that passed, the pain got worse and worse.  The cramping started earlier and lasted longer until I was only pain-free for one week each month.  I turned to essential oils for help with the pain, but even their magic wasn’t strong enough.

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Chronic Pain
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The chronic pelvic pain exacerbated my postpartum depression symptoms.

I felt defeated by the pain.  I didn’t feel like being strong or fighting through the pain – I hoped and prayed it would just kill me.  I thought about how my daughter might someday experience this kind of pain, and I felt responsible for that.  I felt like all I did was inflict pain on those around me, because I was also in pain.  And I was certain that everyone would be happier, myself included, if I was just gone.

When my year of maternity leave was over, things got better.

I found a job that I loved and began to make friends.  The daycare we chose for the kids was wonderful and they settled into it without any problems.  I appreciated my children more because I cherished the short amount of time we had together each day instead of dreading the long hours of nothingness.

Finally, I was happy!  I pushed through the endometriosis pain every month because I didn’t want anything to destroy my happiness.

But after a year of being happy and ignoring the pain – the pain pushed back.

I couldn’t ignore it anymore and eventually wound up in the emergency room.  Much to everyone’s surprise – I was pregnant!  I guess endometriosis doesn’t always cause infertility…

The anxiety began almost immediately.  I didn’t want to go through another HG pregnancy and I definitely worried about dealing with the postpartum depression all over again.  Plus we had just moved again, and hadn’t even bought a house yet.

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Despite the exciting news, the pain was still there… worse even.

The doctors suspected a possible ectopic pregnancy and rushed me into emergency surgery.

When I woke up, I had mixed feelings about losing the baby.  Part of me was relieved to avoid another tough pregnancy, but another part of me felt disappointed that I didn’t get another chance to make things right.

The next day, I found out I was still pregnant.  The pregnancy was a healthy one, and there was nothing they could tell me about the endometriosis because they didn’t want to do anything to disturb the pregnancy.

And so I had my third child.  I suffered from the worst case of hyperemesis gravidarum of all three pregnancies, but for a while, I didn’t have to worry about the menstrual pain.  This time I did everything in my power to prepare myself for postpartum depression again but thankfully was spared from it.  I was given a second chance!  I immediately felt a bond with this baby and she made our family complete.

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I had a good, solid 8 months of bliss with my happy baby before my first postpartum period arrived.

And, in true dream-crushing fashion, it came back on Christmas Eve so I spent most of that night hopped up on painkillers and hovering around the bathroom door in order to change my tampon every 30 minutes.

After another steady 8 months of pill popping, I missed another period.  Oh no, not another pregnancy.  It can’t be.  I can’t do it again.  But the tests were all negative…

My menstrual cycle finally had a nervous breakdown.

It would skip months for no reason and then come every other week.  The pelvic pain got worse and it was no longer limited to my menstrual cycle – it was there 24/7.  I ended up in the emergency room regularly looking for something to help with the pain.  Nothing ever showed up on any of the tests, and I’m certain everyone thought I was a hypochondriac.  Even though I was in an intense amount of pain, I started to wonder if they were right.

The pain triggered the postpartum depression again.

It didn’t help that I was now a stay-at-home-mom, living in a city with no friends or relatives to help me out.  Between the darkness of postpartum depression and the pain of endometriosis, life was very bleak for nearly a full year.

The Tormented Life of a Mother Living with Endometriosis
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I finally met with a specialist.

He instantly validated everything I was feeling and scheduled me for a diagnostic laparoscopy to find out what was going on inside of me.  Since he wasn’t sure what he would find, he asked me to sign a form that stated he could perform a hysterectomy if he deemed it medically necessary.  This way, I wouldn’t have to undergo two separate surgeries if I did need one.

We discussed the fact that a hysterectomy would be the worst-case scenario, and I signed the form without hesitation.

In the 6 weeks leading up to my surgery date, I bled continuously.  I should have known then, that more was wrong under the surface than I wanted to admit.  If I had, perhaps I would have been more prepared for what was ahead.

The surgery was supposed to be a laparoscopic day surgery on a Friday.  My husband, kids and I made the 2 hour drive into the city, expecting to stay with family for the weekend and be back home by Monday.

But when I woke up from the surgery, I was told I would not be going home that day.

My doctor came in to see me, head hung, disappointment in his eyes.  He rested his hand on mine and told me that this was the first time he’s ever had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an abdominal incision (minimally invasive surgery was his specialty).

And then he filled me in on what happened in surgery.

He had to remove my uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and left ovary.  He left the right ovary so that I would not go into menopause but everything else was stuck together with adhesions and needed to go.  My reproductive organs were attached to the pelvic wall, bladder and bowels which he successfully separated, but there would be scar tissue remaining.  The adhesions had re-routed my blood vessels and so he cut into one while attempting to perform the hysterectomy, causing me to lose nearly 4 units of blood and require a transfusion.

It was the “worst case scenario,” and I felt completely blindsided by what had just happened.  

I ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days.  Losing so much blood left me feeling weak and dizzy and moving around was almost impossible.  Once I did get home to my own bed, I couldn’t leave.  Walking up and down stairs was difficult and living in a 4 level split meant I was practically bedridden.  Long after the scar healed, the pain inside my pelvis was excruciating.  I was told to expect to be out of commission for a full 6 weeks but it took more like 8.

Dealing with the sudden loss of my uterus was difficult.  Although I knew I didn’t want to have more children, I liked knowing that it was an option.  I spent a lot of time thinking about my pregnancies and how the place where I grew my children and felt them move and kick was no longer there.

But once I recovered from the surgery, the constant pelvic pain that plagued me for years was finally gone.  It was hard to believe that it was no longer there, I kept poking at it to see if it hurt but no – no more pain!  And I never had to wear another giant tampon or adult diaper ever again.

Most days I forget that I no longer have a uterus.  I still get some symptoms of PMS when my lonely ovary ovulates but it’s nearly impossible to track it without a menstrual cycle.  The fluctuating hormones do still affect my postpartum depression symptoms and I have to take extra care of myself on those days, but otherwise, it’s no longer triggered by constant pain.

Postpartum Depression Resources in Canada
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I’ve been told that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis and there is still a chance that the endometrial tissue could grow back.

So while my battle with endometriosis, as well as my battle with postpartum depression, is over for now – they have changed who I am as a person.

They have both taken things away from me that I can never get back.  They have killed a part of me inside and remain there, dormant, waiting for another opportunity to strike. I will do my best to take care of myself,  to help others who are suffering, and to raise awareness about these two important issues, so that if and when they ever do decide to rear their ugly heads again – I will be ready to fight back.


Endometriosis Resources

Endometriosis.org
WebMD Endometriosis Health Center
Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education Facebook Group
Endometriosis Support Group on Facebook
Hystersisters.com

10 Things Mothers with Postpartum Depression Want You To Know

Postpartum depression, as common as it might be, is widely misunderstood.  No one knows for certain exactly why mothers get postpartum depression and many aren’t even aware of the symptoms.

If there was less stigma and more mothers felt comfortable enough to speak up about their postpartum depression, perhaps the rest of the world would know about it and find ways to help.

In an effort to help others understand more about postpartum depression – here’s a list of 10 things that mothers with postpartum depression want you to know.


A List of 10 Things a Mother with Postpartum Depression Wants You to Know

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


1. We Are Not Bad Mothers

Mothers with postpartum depression are not prone to hurting their babies.  While there have been cases that ended in tragedy – those mothers were likely suffering from postpartum psychosis, which is much more serious.

We might be seen as “bad” mothers because we didn’t bond with our babies right away, or we seem withdrawn from them or avoid holding them.  These are common symptoms of postpartum depression but it does not mean that we want to harm our child or that we don’t love them as much.

If anything, postpartum depression makes us stronger mothers because we have to fight harder to build a mother-child relationship.

You don’t need to take our babies away from us or be concerned about leaving us alone with them.  If we come to you for help and admit what we are feeling – that makes us a better mother, not a bad one. 

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2. It’s Not In Our Head

Postpartum depression is not just a psychological issue – it’s physical pain, it’s chemical imbalances, it’s uncontrollable hormones.  It’s a total body experience and not just something we imagine.

Positive thinking alone will not get rid of postpartum depression.  It’s important to stay positive to help reduce stress which is a big trigger for symptoms, but there is so much more to it than that.

Many women suffer from disruptions in sleep and appetite, headaches and back pains from stress and tension, nausea and debilitating fatigue.  So the pain is never just “in our head.”

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3. Nothing We Did Caused This

Postpartum depression is NOT our fault.  We didn’t get it because of a traumatic labor or breastfeeding problems or because we didn’t have a good enough support system.

It’s natural to want to find an explanation for what we’re going through and it’s easy to look back on our pregnancies and deliveries and find something to blame for the mess.

While there are several different risk factors that can increase your chances of having postpartum depression, the truth is – even a women with the happiest of pregnancies, easiest of deliveries and biggest support system could still be diagnosed with postpartum depression.  It does not discriminate.

There are studies being conducted to try to determine the cause of postpartum depression but for now – it’s still a mystery as to why some women get it and others do not.

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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4. There Is No Cure

There are plenty of treatment options and ways to control the symptoms but we will never be the same person we were before postpartum depression.

Anti-depressants, therapy, self-care, yoga and meditation, etc., are all important for helping with the symptoms but they will not make postpartum depression go away permanently.  Some women can control their symptoms better than others, but no matter what, we will all have to live with the darkness inside of us for the rest of our lives.

If we’re not careful about following our treatment plans, we could suffer a relapse.

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5. It Can Be Invisible

Just because we don’t seem depressed doesn’t mean we’re not suffering inside.  Postpartum depression can be an invisible disease, which means we don’t have a giant scar or walk with a limp but we are in just as much pain.

Mothers with postpartum depression have gotten very good at putting on a smile to hide the pain and avoid the awkward questions.

Thanks to the stigma around postpartum depression, many mothers won’t even admit to having it for fear of what the world will think of them.

Organizations like 2020Mom and The Blue Dot Project are helping to break down the stigma through campaigns like Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week but they will only be successful if mothers with postpartum depression are willing to let the world know that they exist.  

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6. It’s Not The Same As Postpartum Psychosis

Anytime I hear a story about a new mother taking her life and/or her child’s life, the question arises as to whether or not it’s postpartum psychosis.  While postpartum depression can cause mothers to feel suicidal, postpartum psychosis can cause hallucinations during which a mother isn’t even herself. They are two different diseases and psychosis is a severe medical emergency.

Postpartum psychosis leads a mother to have hallucinations and hear voices in their heads.  They are often a danger to themselves and those around them, including their children, because of their unpredictable behavior.  They are not aware of what they are doing, and if left untreated – can end in tragedy.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum psychosis and know the difference.  This article from Postpartum Progress does the best job at explaining it.

Here’s an article from Huffingtonpost with regards to the movie “Tully” portraying a woman diagnosed with postpartum depression when really, she suffers from postpartum psychosis.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal .


7. Don’t Take Things Personally

Postpartum depression can manifest itself in different ways.  Fits of uncontrollable rage is a lesser known symptom and can cause a lot of strain on relationships.

When we are riding the emotional roller coaster that is postpartum depression, it’s easy to lose control and lash out.  But until our symptoms are under control with a proper treatment plan, it’s best not to take the things we say and do personally.

The urge to push people away and withdraw into ourselves is strong with postpartum depression, but that doesn’t mean it’s what we actually want.

In fact, a support system is something we need now more than ever.

9 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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8. It’s easier to talk to strangers

Please don’t feel offended if we don’t want to talk to you about what we’re going through.  It’s much easier to talk to strangers who have been through it before, such as a therapist or online support group.

They understand what we mean and won’t judge us.  We know you don’t mean to judge us, but unless you know what it feels like to be inside the head of a crazy person, you couldn’t possibly understand.

Some of the best “strangers” to talk to are available through the PSI Helpline (call or text!)

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9. We Need Your Help

Even if we don’t want to talk to you, we still need your help to get through this.  Postpartum depression is a tough fight and it’s even harder to fight alone.  There are so many ways that you can help us, but it’s very hard for us to tell you what they are.

The biggest way that you can help us is by trying to understand what we’re going through.  And even if you don’t understand, stand by us and support us no matter what.

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10. Please Don’t Abandon Us

Mothers with postpartum depression make for some of the worst company.  We’re weepy and emotional.  We rarely smile or laugh.  We’re tired all the time, or angry and annoyed.  We dodge your phone calls and cancel dinner plans.  We don’t blame you for not wanting to hang out with us…

Withdrawing from society is a major symptom of postpartum depression and it’s out of our control.

But we hope that, when we do finally feel better, you will still be there waiting for us on the other side of the darkness.

Gift ideas for the mother with postpartum depression
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10 Things Moms with Postpartum Depression Want You to Know
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The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories

Continue reading “The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories”

9 Reasons Why Mothers Don’t Speak Up About Having Postpartum Depression

I battled with postpartum depression silently for a long time and didn’t speak a word of it to anyone, nor did I have any intention to.

The reason why I finally decided to share my story was because I was so emotionally moved by the tragic story of a woman from my hometown, Lisa Gibson, who suffered and died from postpartum depression in 2013 (along with her two children).  The story, in itself, was truly heartbreaking but what bothered me the most was the public reaction.  Many people seemed to believe that she got what she deserved.

Her story was a worst case scenario, but I dreaded what others would think of me if they knew the dark thoughts and feelings that I battled with while I had postpartum depression.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy like that to encourage someone to speak up but it made me realize two important things:

1.)  I was not alone.

2.)  We need to annihilate the stigma of postpartum depression.


As a survivor of postpartum depression, bringing awareness and help to others who are suffering is a cause that is close to my heart.  While it can be terrifying to “speak up when you’re feeling down” it is so important both for our own mental health and to help bring awareness about this debilitating condition.

[You can read my own personal story about battling prenatal and postpartum depression here.]

postpartum depression

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

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Check it out – I’ve added to this list!

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1. We are in denial 

Prior to becoming a mother myself, I had heard about postpartum depression in all of it’s notorious glory.  But I never, ever, in a million years, thought it would happen to me.  I had ZERO risk factors and an awesome support system.  So when the first few symptoms started popping up, I laughed it off…  “ME??? Postpartum depression??? Never!!!”

This comprehensive guide to maternal mental health disorders from Parenting Pod offers plenty of information to help you understand your symptoms.

2. We think this is “normal” motherhood

All we ever hear about when it comes to parenting is how hard it is.  The sleep loss, the crying, the breastfeeding struggle – it’s all normal… right?  A brand new mother experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression may assume that this is what everyone meant when they said it was hard.  I’ve heard stories of women opening up to others about what they were feeling, only to be told “welcome to motherhood.”

Think you might have postpartum depression?  Take this quiz from PostpartumDepression.org.

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3. We are terrified of having our child taken away from us

Obviously we want what’s best for our child but it would be a mother’s worst nightmare to be deemed incapable of caring for her own child (the child who got her into this mess in the first place, might I add).  If anyone knew the thoughts that a mother with postpartum depression has on a regular basis, they would lock her up and throw away the key.

If you are feeling the urge to act upon your bad thoughts, seek help immediately as you may be suffering from a rarer case of postpartum psychosis

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4. We are ashamed of ourselves 

For some reason, society has led us to believe that having postpartum depression is our fault.  Admitting to it is admitting that we were one of the weak ones who fell susceptible to the curse that is postpartum depression.  We feel like terrible people for thinking and feeling the way we do, even though we have no control over it.

5. We are concerned about what others will think of us

If we are diagnosed with postpartum depression that means we are classified as “mentally ill” and will need to accept the stigma that comes along with that label.  All of a sudden we are dangerous and unpredictable.  Will other people start to question our parenting skills now?  Will they treat us as if we are delicate and fragile and weak?  What will our co-workers or employers think?  Will having postpartum depression jeopardize our futures?

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6. We feel like failures

This is not the way it was supposed to happen.  In our dreams of becoming mothers we pictured it blissful and beautiful.  We imagined sitting in a rocking chair, singing lullabies to a sleepy, happy baby.  And when it wasn’t like this, we felt like we had failed. We failed our children and robbed them of a happy childhood.  We failed our spouses and robbed them of a happy marriage. We failed ourselves and all of our dreams of motherhood.  No one ever wants to admit that they are a failure.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal
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7. We think we can cure ourselves

We think it will go away on it’s own, eventually.  Or maybe we are planning to tell someone when it gets worse… it just hasn’t yet.

We think that if we sleep a little more, relax a little more, meditate and do yoga that our postpartum depression will magically go away and so there’s no need to burden anyone else with our problems.  Self-care while battling postpartum depression is extremely important but it’s highly unlikely that the symptoms will go away without a proper treatment plan.

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8. We don’t trust the medical system

It’s a sad truth that many women who open up about postpartum depression still don’t get the help they need.  Unless you already have a trusting relationship with a medical professional it can be difficult to find the right person to seek help from with such a personal matter.  The fear is that we’ll be told we’re over-exaggerating, drug seekers or that it’s all in our head.

Regardless of how difficult it is to find good help, it’s so necessary to seek treatment.  Postpartum depression will NOT go away on it’s own, and even if the feelings do subside after a while, there is always chance of a relapse.

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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9. We feel alone

We’ve joined online support groups.  We read the posts and silently agree without so much as a “like.” The women write about how they’re exhausted and overwhelmed.  They talk about how they can’t sleep at night, how they can’t eat or can’t stop eating and how they worry about everything all the time.  And we can relate to that.

But what those women don’t talk about is the bad thoughts they have.  It’s incriminating and requires a *trigger warning* and what if no one else feels the same way?

I’m here to tell you that I don’t care what bad thoughts you have, I don’t want nor need to know what they are because chances are, I’ve had them too.  You don’t have to say them out loud.  You can pretend like you didn’t even think them, so long as you know that you are not the only person who has thought them.  You are not alone.

To prove it to you, here is a list of postpartum depression stories from other brave mothers who have been through the worst of the worst and still managed to survive (myself included).

Postpartum Depression Blog Posts
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If you’ve read this entire post and can relate to all 9 of these things, then it’s time to do something about it.  Staying silent about postpartum depression helps no one.

Start by downloading this FREE printable PDF workbook to help you collect your thoughts and come to terms with what you are feeling and how you want to say it.

Then, write out your story.  It doesn’t have to be pretty – in fact, it probably won’t be.  But don’t hold back.  Think about all of the real and raw things you wish someone else had been brave enough to tell you.

Next, decide if you are ready to tell it.  Do you want to tell someone close to you or would you prefer to anonymously release it into the world for other mothers with PPD to read?  Either way is fine, as long as you’re not keeping it all inside.

If and when you are ready to tell your story – click here to find out how.
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9 Reasons Why Mothers Don't Speak Up about Having Postpartum Depression
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14 Ways to Help a Mother With Postpartum Depression

If a woman in your life has recently given birth then there’s a 1 in 5 chance they are struggling with postpartum depression.

It might be your partner, daughter, sister or friend but no matter who they are to you, it’s normal to feel helpless seeing them in pain.  It can be even more discouraging when you try to help them and they shut you out.  But don’t be offended, mental illness is a tricky situation and displays in many different ways.

From a mother who has battled it first hand, here are a few tips that might help you understand her better and be able to provide the right type of support.

14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression 14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

1. Know the symptoms

It’s very common for a mother to be in denial about their postpartum depression at first.  Even if she does have her suspicions, it’s unlikely that she will admit it out loud.  This is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms in someone else so that, even if she doesn’t want to talk about it, you can be there to support her.

Resources:

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2. Believe her

There is a lot of stigma around postpartum depression and many people still don’t believe it’s a real disease.  If she does open up to you about having postpartum depression – believe that her pain is real.  She is not being overly dramatic.  She is not “just tired.” Motherhood is overwhelming in general and it will be for a very long time but postpartum depression is different – it’s uncontrollable.

Postpartum depression and anxiety cause a lot of undesirable side effects and symptoms that vary depending on the person.  This can make a woman feel and act like a hypochondriac.

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3. Help her get some rest

Sleep deprivation can aggravate postpartum depression but postpartum depression can cause insomnia so it’s a lose-lose situation.  Do whatever you can to help her rest.  If she cannot sleep at night, then make sure she gets frequent, short naps in throughout the day.  Invest in a new mattress to see if it makes a difference in her quality of sleep.  Here’s an excellent one that you can try for an entire year.

With a new baby, it’s natural and understandable to be sleep deprived.  If you’re having a lot of difficulty getting baby to sleep, consider hiring a sleep training expert.

But if baby is sleeping through the night and mom isn’t, then there’s definitely something wrong. 

How to Sleep Train a Newborn
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4. Don’t tell her things could be worse

It’s natural to want to tell her stories about someone else who had it worse in the hopes of making her feel better but it will have the opposite effect.  Instead of being thankful that she isn’t having suicidal thoughts, she might see her pain as insignificant and feel guilty for having such a difficult time when others are going through “things that are worse.”

It’s still important to make sure that she knows she isn’t alone – as long as she knows that debilitating pain from postpartum depression comes in all forms.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal
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5. Don’t try to explain why

It’s not her fault. But she will try to blame herself anyway.  Trying to find a reason why this has happened can inadvertently put more guilt on her.

Yes, she’s tired, yes, breastfeeding is hard, yes, labor was intense but those are not the reasons why she has postpartum depression.  If labor and recovery were a breeze, baby was nursing fine and sleeping well she could STILL have it.

Knowing that postpartum depression does not discriminate and there was nothing she could have done to avoid it will relieve some of her guilt.

Encourage her to take part in the free genetic research study to help determine the root cause of postpartum depression.

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6. Keep it on the down low

For some reason, having a mental illness is embarrassing.  While it’s important to check in on her and ask her how she’s feeling, don’t put her on the spot or force her to open up about it if she’s not ready.

And definitely don’t go advertising that she has postpartum depression without her permission.  The last thing she wants is everyone at your office knowing about her postpartum depression and offering to help.  She will be mortified if someone she barely knows confronts her about postpartum depression, no matter how good their intentions might be.

It takes time to come to terms with postpartum depression for many reasons.  The more public it is, the more guilt and pressure she will feel about disappointing others.

The day will come when she will openly want to talk about it but it should be her who decides when that is.

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7. Send her a text message but don’t expect a reply right away

Don’t expect her to answer the phone when you call.  Better yet, don’t phone her.  For someone with postpartum depression, their emotions change throughout the day without warning.  Chances are, when you want to talk, won’t be when she wants to talk and vice versa.  A text message is a great way to check in and see how she’s doing while allowing her to reply when SHE feels up to it.  You can even write something like “you don’t have to reply right away – whenever you feel like talking just text me.”

Postpartum depression has a way of making a new mother withdraw from society and it has nothing to do with how she feels about you.

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8. Don’t force her to socialize

And don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to see you.  She’s not trying to keep the baby all to herself.  Going out or hosting visitors means putting on a smile and talking to people when all she wants to do is be alone.  Even her inner circle can be extremely irritating.

In addition to feeling socially withdrawn, many women with postpartum depression also suffer from social anxiety.  She may feel incredibly uncomfortable in public, even in small groups of close friends.

Allow her some time to avoid social interaction, and gradually work your way up to larger social gatherings.  

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9. Cook food for her

Appetite changes are a major symptom of postpartum depression.  She will either not want to eat anything at all or not be able to stop eating. Having a fridge stocked with healthy ready-to-eat food will help her get the calories and nutrition she so desperately needs (especially if she’s breastfeeding) without all the added exhaustion of having to prepare it.

Proper diet and nutrition plays a big role in managing her symptoms, so it’s important to make sure that she has access to healthy food.

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10. Clean the house but don’t make a big deal about it

Do it while she’s napping so she can’t tell you to stop.  Cleaning will be the last thing on her mind but looking around at piles of laundry, overflowing garbage bins or dishes in the sink will cause her more anxiety. It’s one thing to tell her not to worry about the cleaning, it’s another to make the clutter magically disappear.  A clutter free environment will help her mind to feel clutter-free as well.

If you notice that she starts to become obsessed about cleaning, she could be suffering from Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Check out Jordan’s story to see if it relates.

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and OCD
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11. Get up with her in the middle of the night

If she’s breastfeeding, you may feel like there’s no point in getting up for night time feedings.  But those dark, lonely hours can be the scariest times for a mother with postpartum depression.  If for no other reason than to keep her company – get up with her. She may tell you that she’s OK and to go back to bed but at least get up and check on her – check if she needs anything, rub her feet or her back while she nurses.

Breastfeeding in itself can cause a lot of stress on new mothers.  If you see her struggling, let her know there are online lactation courses available, so she doesn’t need to do it alone.

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12. Help her find strangers to talk to

Don’t try to force her to talk to you about her feelings.  It’s much easier to talk to strangers who understand and won’t judge her and who she may never see or talk to again.  She can be completely honest and vulnerable without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings or having them take things the wrong way.

Whether it’s an online forum, support group or a therapist – she will be much more comfortable talking to someone who has been in her position before and/or who has experience to share.

Consider signing her up for online therapy.  Via online therapy, she has the ability to work at her own pace and can chat with a licensed therapist from the comfort of her own home.

postpartum depression Facebook groups

Postpartum Support International
Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support Group
Postpartum Anxiety Support Group
Postpartum Depression Awareness

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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13. Take pictures of her

Not happy, dressed up, perfectly posed pictures but real pictures.  Pictures of her nursing in her pajamas.  Pictures of her holding or sleeping beside the baby.  Pictures of her when she hasn’t showered in 3 days and has dried breast milk all over her shirt.  Take pictures of her crying.  Aim for honest pictures of her so that she can look back at them when she is better and remember this part of her life.

You can even make a special photo album filled with pictures of her and baby as a keepsake because she may not remember all these days as clearly.

Reassure her that you will never show them to anyone else or post them anywhere, they are only for her.

Gift ideas for the mother with postpartum depression
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14. Wait it out

Don’t try to rush her recovery. Helping her find the right path to recovery is important but don’t keep asking if she’s feeling better yet. If she has a good day, don’t assume she’s past the worst of it.

She may go years without an episode, only to have it triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, illness or something else entirely.  Many women will battle postpartum depression for years, if not forever, so if you’re in this with her – prepare to go the lengths for her.

Know that there is no cure for mental illness, only treatment options to keep it under control.  

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For more information on the recovery process, check out this post: How long does Postpartum Depression Last? Accelerate Your Recovery!


Postpartum depression is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in North America for a reason.  Women, moms in particular, pride themselves in being able to handle it all and admitting that they are struggling or need help is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.  While these tips may help the woman in your life open up to you, nothing is ever for certain when it comes to postpartum depression and many women experience it in different ways.  If all else fail – love her and support her and don’t ever give up on her.


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postpartum depression
postpartum depression 14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression