A Postpartum Depression Brochure Just Isn’t Enough

postpartum depression informationWe’ve been in a de-cluttering frenzy lately as we prepare to sell our house, and one of my recent tasks was going through old paperwork in my filing cabinet. I found our marriage certificate (whoops – guess I had better find a safe spot for that), put our shredder to good use in ditching a lot of stuff, and reminisced about some things I came across in a folder simply labelled “Baby.”

As I sorted through it, I found a batch of paper that was clearly stuff we’d received in the hospital when my son was born – a copy of his footprint (I really need to find a better spot for important stuff), some information about vitamin D for babies and a brochure on postpartum depression.

I have no recollection of ever having seen this brochure before.

I must have seen it, of course, but I’m sure I dismissed it just as I’d dismissed the information about c-sections in my pregnancy books (another whoops). There were probably several reasons I paid no attention to this little beige brochure:

  • I assumed I wouldn’t get postpartum depression. I felt pretty competent as I entered motherhood, so I didn’t think it would be an issue. I know better now, and am all too aware that PPD isn’t actually about competence, though in fact women who are high achievers or with perfectionist tendencies tend to be at slightly higher risk for perinatal mood disorders. (That would have been good to know, actually.)
  • It’s one piece of paper that was stuck in a folder of other pieces of paper, none of which were my main focus in the first days of my son’s life. Postpartum depression didn’t hit that early for me, and since nothing was wrong I was focused on other new-mother things like figuring out breastfeeding and trying to figure out how to wake up my husband without waking the baby when I needed him to help me put the baby back in the bassinet.
  • The brochure doesn’t have the right information for what I eventually experienced. It said nothing about anger, which was how I knew something was wrong (though admittedly if it had I wouldn’t have thought anything of it in those early days either).

Overall, I didn’t know much about postpartum depression at all and, as a result, didn’t know enough to take this information seriously. This brochure just does not provide enough information or the right information about what PPD is and what to do about it. It’s not even a nice color.

I’m not suggesting we need to pounce on new mothers and tell them horror stories about PPD to scare them into awareness. But I think I’m a good example of needing to do more.

For me, postpartum depression set in when my son was a few months old, and I wasn’t caught by the screenings they do here in Canada. I didn’t recognize my anxiety, and I had no idea anger and insomnia were anything other than nasty side effects of sleep deprivation.

I was desperately afraid of the stigma, and the label of PPD, and medication – anything at all related to depression, really. I was just totally uninformed. When a counsellor I saw when my son was about eight months old said she thought I had PPD I actually told her I didn’t want that label, thank you very much, and didn’t want to discuss it. (That should have been her first clue to send the PPD Army to my door…if only there were such a thing.)

What I do know now is that postpartum depression is common enough and important enough that we need to do better. We need to reach women when they’re still pregnant, not when their babies are two days old. Then we need to reach them again after the first week, and the first month, and the first six months. And we need to go beyond that. It’s too big an issue to relegate to a single, tri-fold piece of paper.

A brochure on PPD just isn’t enough.

Robin Farr

Robin Farr

Robin Farr

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit (brochures): © robert cabrera – Fotolia.com

About Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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Comments

  1. YES, yes, yes. EXACTLY.

  2. Amen sister. I think we need an iphone/android App of Postpartum Progress. 🙂

    • Robin | Farewell, St says:

      Oh my gosh, a PPD app based on this site with info and daily hope and all that would be so great.

      • I just looked and there's an IPhone app called Sad Scale that you can use to screen for depression, PPD and Geriatric Depression (I think they're each diff screening tests.) interesting. It's 99 cents. Might have to download it for research.

    • Katherine Stone says:

      Love that idea! Who can do it? (I am technologically UNSAVVY.)

      – Katherine

      • I'm pretty sure there are WordPress plug ins that make it relatively easy to create an app from a blog. I'm happy to look into it and see if I can find a way to set something up in a very user friendly format 🙂

      • Robin | Farewell, St says:

        My husband is actually learning how to build apps… Maybe we can think about this some more.

  3. Don't lose that thought ladies. There is something emerging in my brain out of Going Blue that says we need to find a way to go back to grassroots communication like you are doing in an online sense. But to find a medium to reach young parents in our "villages" to ask if they are feeling anger or extreme sadness or lack of energy. To tell them they are not alone. I've often thought there needed to be a system to check in a few weeks or months down the road when euphoria has dissipated and issues have set in to suggest resources. Not from too busy and judgmental health professionals, from real people with understanding.This about depression in general as well as PPD.

  4. At the hospital where I delivered two of my babies there was a mandatory video I had watch to educate parents about "Shaken Baby Syndrome." Just a thought but maybe education about PPD could happen like this as well??

    • Robin | Farewell, St says:

      That's interesting, Candace. Did you watch it before or after birth?

      I think something visual with real stories would actually do a good job of being memorable enough for new mothers to remember if they started experiencing the same sorts of things. It wouldn't be hard to do something short and engaging enough not to be dismissed.

  5. Alison@Mama Wants Th says:

    I had my son in Australia, and I received a bunch of brochures etc and there wasn't a single word on postpartum depression. I remember attending a 1-day antenatal class and the midwife touched briefly on postpartum blues, that was it. I'm amazed there's not more information out there.

    Great post, and good to see you here, Robin.

  6. You are so right… we scan over information sometimes that at the time we believe is useless or silly, because we don't feel as though it applies to us.

    Thank you for writing this, you are going to help so many people.

    I know how hard moving is, especially packing, but if it drums up ideas like this, then pack on, girl!! Good luck purging and have fun walking down memory lanes. 🙂

  7. SO true. I'm sure I threw those brochures away before I even left the hospital. And for me, PPD didn't hit until my babies we about 8 months old (I got it twice). It was anger and insomnia for me too, and I had no idea that it was related to PPD. (Apparently not many people do, since it took three years for me to be diagnosed!)

    The thing about those brochures is that it puts the ball in *your* court. It's up to *you* to reach out for help. But what if you don't even know that you need it?!

  8. I received a small brochure about PPD as well. Nothing much was discussed, and certainly not in detail. Most of what was brought up was about the 'baby blues' when I know that PPD is so much more than that. I had a screening at 6 weeks postpartum, but I agree with you, they should follow up months later, too.

  9. I have a brochure. Sitting on my night stand. So. . . yeah.

  10. Maureen | Tatter Sco says:

    This is so true! I never paid much attention to the brochures I got when I had my son, especially not after knowing he had to be born a premie and we stayed in the hospital for a week. Then struggling with feeding him as he lost weight in NICU. Here in Indonesia I don't think the awareness of PPD is as high as in the US – which is sad because I had mine but undiagnosed, not knowing what it was yet my Indonesian side held me back from admitting that there was something wrong. Lying to my doctor after my son was born, pretend to be OK just because I was too embarrassed. So yes, brochures alone isn't enough.

    BTW, I love the app idea from Christi.

  11. I received a brochure too with a lady who looked like she was whacked by a Mac truck luging a crying baby….yea…that looked real awesome to leaf through…NOT it got tossed.

    For me, in Canada the healthcare unit does a one week follow up call. I scored high I think but the nurse said it was the blues…no further calls were given.

  12. Did you just read my mind? Because I just posted about this same topic on my blog today (why I didn't get help from my OB even though I already thought I had PPD). The unfortunate thing is that OBs are primarily trained to deliver babies, not to provide support for mental health issues (whether biologically rooted or not). But yes, at a minimum, PPD education should be provided after the baby is born, not just before.

  13. Hopefully the world of blogging will help to fill the void that the brochure leaves.

  14. Katherine Stone says:

    I think I may have received a handout but it was so unremarkable and so lost among all the other crap that I probably just threw it out the first time I had a chance.

    – Katherine

  15. Robin | Farewell, St says:

    Clearly this is a universal problem. How sad. (Let's fix it!)

  16. I think when you go on the hospital tour or breastfeeding class, or.. or.. or.. a PPD informative should be included. With all of it. Just as an FYI.

  17. Thank you so much for addressing the lack of education and prodding and investigation and questions from caregivers about ppd.. it shows how necessary it is to be brave when you can and speak out so others know what ppd can look like, it's not just morose and tearful, its not just detached from baby, its such a broad spectrum, and can come on well after the birth. Love this resource youve provided, thank you for your openness!

  18. Here! Here! – great article, thank you!

  19. Well said!

  20. AMEN to the entire blog. We have to let PREGNANT women and their husbands know that this can happen – and continue to ask questions everytime we see an expectant mom. Also, thank you Robin, because of you – I added anger/rage to my ever growing list of symptoms moms may experience..just these week 2 more moms called and said they had no idea that the deep anger they were feeling could be related to PPD – because its called "depression"..so sad. I wish we could contact each mom every _______ often after she delivers to just check in so no one has to feel this way.

    • Robin | Farewell, St says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I'm so glad that was helpful for you, and it's great to hear you added that to your symptom list. I agree on checking in regularly – if only there was a way to do that!

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