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Mom Gives Up Baby Due To Postpartum Depression

Zahra Baker and postpartum depression

Mom gives up custody of baby in bout of PPD

An article in Time yesterday highlighted the role that postpartum depression played in the tragic case of Zahra Baker, the North Carolina child whose remains were found recently.

Her biological mother, Emily Dietrich, of New South Wales Australia, says that a severe case of postpartum depression is what made her decide to give over custody to Adam Baker when Zahra was a baby. She later regretted her decision and tried to track her daughter down, but she did so only a few days before her daughter was reported missing.

Katherine Stone, author of the popular Postpartum Progress blog, says that while the idea of giving up a child for adoption because of symptoms of PPD is rare, it’s not the first time she’s heard this story:

Stone writes in her blog that she’s heard stories from 3 or 4 over the years she’s been working in the field who felt like their illness gave them no option but to give over their child. Sadly, and understandably, for these women when their symptoms lift, they deeply regret the decision. A mom even commented on Stone’s blog that her doctor suggested she give up her third child for adoption after recovering from PPD with her second child.

The Time article on Zahra’s case profiled what sounds like an amazing and unique treatment center for women with postpartum depression. The Perinatal Mood Disorders Inpatient Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the only inpatient unit in the country for women with PPD.

It’s a place where pregnant and postpartum moms with severe mood symptoms can go, where doctors are very sensitive about prescribing antidepressants that could be a bad mix with nursing, babies are allowed to visit, and the treatment focuses on bonding, anxiety reduction and practices like yoga.

Amazing. If only treatment was more widely available and so comprehensive for all moms with postpartum depression.

Image: flickr/theogeo

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