Just in time for Mother’s Day this year, supermodel Chrissy Teigen launched the #MyWishForMoms campaign to bring awareness to postpartum depression and anxiety and to help break the stigma surrounding these conditions. While 1 in every 7 moms experience postpartum depression each year, only 15% receive treatment. Perhaps this is because our culture views giving birth as one of the happiest events one might experience in life, making it hard for women who feel sad or anxious in the weeks and months following childbirth to admit that they’re feeling differently.
Postpartum depression is defined as moderate to severe depression that affects a woman after she has given birth; typically within the first three months after delivery, but sometimes up to a year later. Possible contributors to postpartum depression include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Changes in hormone levels during and after pregnancy
- Changes in work and social relationships
- Having less time and freedom for yourself
For some women, the last two contributors listed above may lead to longer-term depression informally known as Stay at Home Mom Depression. The high cost of childcare in our nation means that for some women who worked prior to giving birth, re-entering the work force is cost prohibitive because the amount they would spend on childcare while working is more than what their income would cover.
In a previous blog, I introduced the concept of work-family justice, defined by sociologist Caitlyn Collins as “a system in which each member of society has the opportunity and power to fully participate in both paid work and family care”.
Currently, the lack of work-family policy in our nation makes for an unjust system in which some mothers who desire to work are unable to do so due to financial constraints and nonexistent societal support. These women stay at home with their children and experience lost social relationships, isolation, loneliness, loss of identity and more.
There are many wonderful resources available to mothers who struggle with depression at any stage of life. However, these resources serve to help women cope with problems that could be prevented or lessened if adequate work-family policies and societal supports were made available to them in the first place!
While I do believe it’s important for women to open up about their experiences with postpartum depression, I also believe it’s equally important to start having conversations about our experiences with work-family conflict and what work-family justice might look like in our nation. As working parents or parents who desire to work, we need to advocate for ourselves and our families in order to be the best employees we can be while nurturing our children.