Pregnancy and childbirth have countless effects on the female body, many of which we are familiar with: weight gain, fatigue and painful breasts. However, we often largely ignore one of the major mental effects that is common amongst new mothers: postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is estimated to affect 16% of women giving birth in Australia. Furthermore, approximately 85% experience some type of emotional disturbance post-delivery. With nearly 1 in every 6 new mothers experiencing depression following childbirth, the topic is shockingly neglected and under-discussed.
Societal expectations of motherhood as a exclusively happy experience result in the stigmatisation of postpartum depression and therefore, can cause feelings of shame in mothers who experience it. The lack of discussion of postpartum depression in the public sphere prolongs the vicious cycle, as awareness is lacking, particularly in realising how common this issue actually is.
In a recent interview on Live! with Kelly and Michael, American actress, Hayden Panettiere, opened up about her negative experiences following the birth of her child in December 2014.
“When [you’re told] about postpartum depression you think it’s ‘I feel negative feelings towards my child. I want to injure or hurt my child. I’ve never, ever had those feelings. Some women do.'” Panettiere stated.
“But you don’t realise how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on. It’s something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does heal.”
Panettiere’s acknowledgement of her own experiences with postpartum depression has been important in creating mainstream and widespread awareness, particularly in addressing many misunderstandings surrounding the issue.
Healthy discussion about the prevalence, causes and impacts of postpartum depression are needed to destigmatise a condition that is all too common in modern motherhood. It’s important that we recognise and accept the wide spectrum of experiences, positive and negative, that are encompassed by motherhood. Because there is always #BeautyInTheStruggle.