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Childbirth is a life changing experience. Being pregnant touches your mind, body, and spirit. The weeks leading up to the arrival of your baby are a time full of anticipation and expectations, but motherhood may leave you feeling different about yourself and the world. The birth of a baby can trigger powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety.

The immediate postpartum period is also associated with the loss of the placental hormone, progesterone, which, while pregnant, is associated with a feeling of wellbeing and tranquility. The decline in this hormone in the postpartum period is linked to the changes in mood from the “baby blues” to a more serious and long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). 

  • PPD in Black Women

    Black women have unique ongoing stressors that increase the risk of many health issues. Stressors can be financial, family-related like caring for children and relatives, or health-related. This stress is often increased by racial bias and discrimination. Racism is a source of toxic stress that Black women regularly experience in various forms. For pregnant Black women and Black mothers, the effects of chronic stress can lead to worse pregnancy and birth outcomes. The unique stress and coping mechanisms of Black women underlies the emotional health and perception of well-being in the postpartum period, with Black women reporting postpartum depression twice as often as white women.  

    Culturally, Black women are less likely to seek or participate in traditional mental health assessments and treatment. Instead seeking counsel from friends, family, community members or religious leaders. Black women may take on the burden of living with the symptoms of postpartum depression untreated due to negative stereotypes such as the Strong Black Women. This stereotype imposes harmful coping mechanisms and increases the chance of developing a more severe mental illness such as Major Depression. 

    Superwoman schema (SWS) (Cheryl Woods-Giscombe, PhD)

    • Perceived obligation to present an image of strength
    • Perceived obligation to suppress emotions
    • Perceived obligation to resist help or to resist being vulnerable to others
    • The motivation to succeed despite limited resources
    • Prioritization of caregiving over self-care. 

    It is not a bad thing to exhibit these characteristics. In fact, strength and motivation to succeed despite limited resources can protect women in certain circumstances. However, when you regularly neglect self-care or don't take care of your own emotional needs, this could lead to other problems in the long-term and make you less able to be the caregiver you would like to be.

    Talk to your health care provider if you are having trouble dealing with stress or have symptoms of depression.

  • Marijuana is a schedule 1 controlled substance and should be avoided during your pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Find more information on marijuana and pregnancy.
Postpartum Depression