Postpartum Progress blogger Katherine Stone knows from PPD. She suffered herself, and since her recovery, she has devoted her working life to making things easier for moms who experience postpartum mood disorders. Recently, Katherine posted a list of unhelpful things people say to postpartum women on her website. She got so many comments and ideas from other women who’ve been through the postpartum ringer that she decided to compile them all into one big list of “25 Things You Should Never Say to A Mom With Postpartum Depression or Anxiety”. Or, she adds, to a woman with antenatal depression (depression during pregnancy).
Some of the statements are so out there, you can hardly believe someone would really say this to a woman in real life. But Stone assures us she hears about things like this being said ALL THE TIME on her website.
I’ve picked a few of the crazier comments after the jump. Read ‘em and wince.
…Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years, and they got through new motherhood just fine. Toughen up.
…Yeah, I had a few bad days there after my baby was born. I know what you’re going through. Or … I just finished my [album/thesis/marathon/political campaign]. I know how you feel.
…Stop making this about you. This is about the baby. You should be thinking about him/her rather than yourself
…You’re just mad the baby is getting all the attention.
…Did you think motherhood was going to be easy? What did you expect?
The more of these I read, the more upset I get. Not just about the fact that women with clinical postpartum depression are subjected to these kinds of insensitive, destructive remarks. But about how the world seems to simply not take the transition to motherhood for the serious, sometimes slightly traumatic change it really is. Maybe once upon a time, when wives were expected to wait on their husbands, being a mother was just another part of the female service economy. But these days I don’t know too many women who think of themselves as caretakers for the men in their lives. And the move from independent, autonomous individual to mother is a radical change. I am not the postpartum expert Katherine Stone is. But I do know a little bit about becoming a parent, both personally and professionally. And what I have learned has shown me that women don’t get nearly the amount of support they need to ease the transition.
I don’t know how often or how directly this support deficit ties to postpartum mood disorders, but there have been studies implying that it’s a big factor. The comments on Katherine Stone’s list range from dismissive to condescending to just plain useless, but they all show a profound lack of support. Sometimes support can be about understanding. Or it can be about giving someone the freedom to be able to pursue help on her own. But it’s not about judgment or armchair diagnosis or belittling concerns or trying to fix a problem with a verbal bandaid. In Katherine Stone’s words, “Women who have perinatal mood and anxiety disorders didn’t do anything to cause them, and require medical help to recover from them. They deserve nothing but patience, love and support. Period.”
Read the rest of the list and Katherine Stone’s post at BlogHer.
And see below for more on postpartum mood disorders from Being Pregnant.