Does What Gwyneth Paltrow Says About Postpartum Depression Affect You?

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I read last week that Gwyneth Paltrow said she plans on avoiding having any more children to head off any potential recurrence of postpartum depression. The UK’s Daily Mirror quoted the famous celebrity as saying:

“Looking at Moses makes me want to have another one, he is sooo gorgeous! But I don’t think so. I don’t know if I can go there again, not sleep and be depressed for two years. I felt like a zombie.”

This statement, which was then republished all over entertainment websites and celebrity baby blogs, made me think. Will it lead other women who’ve been through postpartum depression to think they can’t or shouldn’t have more babies? Do they know that many of the women who have survived postpartum depression have gone on to have more children? Given that she is such a worldwide celebrity, I think it would be naive to assume that what Gwyneth says won’t have an impact on what some people think.

Whether to have another baby is a personal decision. No one has to go down that route again, nor are they expected to do so. At the same time, I think women should know that you can have another baby and be just fine. I did, thanks to my treatment team and support from family and friends. You can also have another baby, suffer a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder again, and recover. There is no one right answer.

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. I totally respect her choice, but I also definitely see where you are coming from. I wonder how many women won't think past what she said and who will feel that they, too, want to avoid having more children in order to avoid PPD.
    I had bad PPD and anxiety with my first, but I worked really hard on my recovery and on a plan to prevent it from happening or to at least know how I could get help if it happened again.
    I can now say that nearly two and half months after giving birth to my son, I've been able to steer clear of PPD and anxiety.
    It took lots of work ahead of time (education ppl around me about what to look for, going to therapy, being honest w/ my friends, family and doctor, etc.), but this time around has been as different as night and day for me, and I am SO grateful that I put some faith in myself and in the people around me to know that I could do this.

  2. I actually found what she said encouraging. That is because I have chosen to not have another baby after experiencing severe PPD with my first. I read very few stories of women who choose that path and I need the encouragement and support of knowing that other moms with PPD don't feel guilty for now having another child via birth and to know that some really don't want to face the horrific nature of PPD again.
    I know that many women go on and have another baby after PPD and I am thrilled that they can do that and that they feel ready to do so. But at the same time, I wish more women who choose NOT to have another baby would feel open to speak up. I thank G.P. for doing that at least for me sake.

  3. I agree with Amy B. I experienced postpartum psychosis and I rarely get to hear stories like this. If all views are valid, then certainly so is Gwyneth's. And mine.
    I believe it is important to take into consideration the impact it will have on my life, my children's life and my husband's life. Also-since psychosis is so serious I had no choice but to realize this-I am forever different. My brain is different, it works with a slightly different chemistry now. My personality is even different.
    Given those risks, I will not have more children. I know of a mother that had three more children after psychosis with her first. She only had psychosis one more time.
    Kudos to her and to you other mothers who choose to have more children. I really like to be validated too. Kudos to Gwyneth for speaking out about her postpartum issues, and for making a conscious choice about her health and her families' health.

  4. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Great input. I love this comment. I'm glad to know that it helped you to feel supported in your choices.

  5. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    You should be validated! So thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts here! I'm really glad you shared your perspective.

  6. Am I terrified to have another baby? Absolutely. Does it sway my decision? Totally. Do I cling to all the mothers who have kicked PPD's ass and then decided to have another? 100%…
    I respect her choice and I completely understand where she it coming from, but I look at my son and the women who choose to go for another baby like Amber and Katie and Susan and it gives me hope.
    Like everything though, I take things with a grain of salt but I know that other women who look up to celebrities might find that their statements may sway their choices.
    This is a tough one.

  7. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    I believe that my experience this second time is evidence that with a good plan, treatment during pregnancy (whether it be meds or not), good social support, and proactivity at the earliest sign of things going down that path again, that a recurrence, should it occur, can be very short-lived and manageable. Even with the severity of my first experience and the sudden onset of panic/anxiety/depression day three postpartum this time, I was able to put my treatment/contingency plan into place immediately and be back to functioning well in my family a week later.
    While everyone's experience and chemistry are different, I do believe that should you decide to have more children after surviving a perinatal mood disorder, there are many things that can be done to either prevent it happening again, to limit it's severity this time or to recover very quickly without it impacting your long-term health and family life.
    I also COMPLETELY respect anyone's decision not to have more children after experiencing the hell that PMADs are. It took me three years and lots of prayerful consideration to come to this conclusion. I wouldn't have been at all surprised, however, if the answer had been "one and done". And? I would have been totally okay with that, too. While I love L2 with all my heart and have bonded with him immediately, I couldn't have known that happy ending would be the outcome.
    Regarding Gwyneth, I think that Survivor Mamas will use her statement, if they choose to give it any weight in the first place, to bolster them and feel good about whatever decision they, themselves are leaning towards/have made regarding more kids. From the comments above, I already see that happening in this community.

  8. I think it is important to remember that GP is a womean, mother, and survivor first, and a celebrity second, and any survivor who honestly shares her story is doing the right thing. Such a personal decision that each of us has to make, the more we share the better. Women need to hear all the complexities related to suriving this illness.
    I remember clearly, when I first started to recover, telling myself, "Do not have another child when you get better, you won't survive it next time around if you do." That is not true for everyone, but I knew it to be true for me and I made the choice not to have another child. I also felt like, even if I was only temporarily ill if I had a another one, I couldn't stand to miss one more day even with my son, we had already lost so much time in his first two years.

  9. I admire GP for being willing to share her story. GP seems like she can balance it all: kids, husband, acting, writing a cookbook and even singing on Glee. To see her admit that she had PPD is comforting. It shows that PPD is not something that happens just to the weird or lazy. (And I've heard ignorant comments along those lines before!)
    I chose to have a second baby after PPD/PPA, but the decision caused me a severe amount of anxiety and stress. So I can understand where GP is coming from, and I think it's a valid choice.

  10. I chose to have a second baby, as well, but it was a very long and drawn out decision-making process because I feared exactly what she feared. Having heard that from her would not have influenced me one way or another while I was in the thick of my internal debate, but it would have made me feel that at least one other woman understood my quandary.