Postpartum is not the Same as Postpartum Depression

Both parents experience a monumental transition upon the arrival of their little one(s). What does this look like? Does it always include Postpartum Depression? How long is the Postpartum period of time? Is it different for each family? Is it different after each baby?

Sometimes the word "Postpartum" is used interchangeably with "Postpartum Depression". In order to fully support new families and support women and men who experience Postpartum Depression, we must clarify the difference between the two.

Postpartum is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

  •  relating to or happening in the period of time following the birth of a child

Postpartum Depression is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

  • a feeling of deep sadness, anxiety, etc., that a woman feels after giving birth to a child

Defined by the CDC as:

  • Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby. Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than those of “baby blues,” a term used to describe the worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby. “Baby blues” symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few days. About 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression.

The stigma that surrounds postpartum depression is big, and understanding the difference is vital to helping women heal, recover and seek support when experiencing postpartum depression. Not all women experience PPD, but the CDC admits that cases are under reported and that support would decrease the numbers that are unreported.

When we talk about women who are recovering from childbirth, they are described as "postpartum", they do need extra support to allow them to be the best mothers they can be, but they are not necessarily experiencing Postpartum Depression, but could be.

How can you help postpartum families?

  • Supporting them fully: nutritionally, emotionally, and non-judgementally
  • Validating them: in their happy, sad, easy and difficult experiences
  • Validating Postpartum Depression as a real disease that many women experience but fear talking about
  • Supporting mothers dealing with Postpartum Depression so that they can recover and thrive as new mothers

If we begin to support mothers enough to talk about the real feelings they are experiencing postpartum we will see a shift in the whole family transition after birth.