Postpartum depression affects almost 16% of women giving birth in Australia. When a woman feels differently to how motherhood is depicted in images or the media, it can be a confronting and confusing. Childbirth, and motherhood is meant to be a joyous, courageous and incredible time, but when your experience doesn’t relate to what you expected, it can be harrowing to say the least.
Up to 80% of women will experience the ‘baby blues’ between the 3rd and 10th day after giving birth. This fluctuation in hormones can make women feel incredibly overwhelmed. Whilst this usually passes, a persisting black cloud may continue to wreak havoc on the mental wellbeing of the mother, manifesting itself in symptoms of depression.
Postpartum depression, whilst common enough, is poorly represented in the media and often unspoken about in popular circles.
Actress Drew Barrymore has spoken out about her experience with postpartum depression, in the hope that it will inspire women to seek help and understand that despite their feelings, they are not alone.
A mother of two girls, Olive (3 years old) and Frankie (18 months), Barrymore revealed her personal experience after the birth of her second daughter.
“I didn’t have postpartum the first time so I didn’t understand it because I was like, ‘I feel great!’ The second time, I was like, ‘Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand,” she says. “It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud,” she told People.
Between her busy schedule, work commitments and other outside pressures, she felt obliged to do it all – until it all got too much.
“I just got right on the idea of, where do I need to be the most? Fifty-fifty would be ideal but life doesn’t work like that. Life is messy,” the actress says. “It was just really challenging and I felt overwhelmed. I made a lot of decisions and I definitely changed my work life to suit my parenthood.”
Her depression lasted six months, and whilst the ordeal was harrowing, Barrymore was grateful for the experience that reminded her to stay present in the moment.
“It’s really important. I was in the kids’ class with Frankie and Olive this morning and I started fretting about some piece of work news that was just stressful,” she recalls. “You know, in like the Broadway Babies class and it’s the one-hit wonders day, and they’re singing I don’t even know what song, and we’re all doing our lollipop drums and I just thought, ‘Save it until after class.’ One thing at a time.”