How you’re incorrectly describing postpartum depression and how it’s preventing you from getting the care you need

The topic was being covered on such a large platform and I was looking forward to watching them dive into it.

I patiently waited for a span of uninterrupted time so I could experience the intensity of the moment.

The show began and everyone expressed how they perceived the mother’s behavior, describing it as off and unusual. She was depicted as worrisome, always crying, inattentive to whatever was going on around her and unable to really bond with her baby.

Then it happened. She said these words, “I don’t have postpartum.”

I sat on the edge of my chair waiting for a more thorough description from the actress, silently praying that they wouldn’t leave it at that. Why would they only skim the surface of such a serious topic and not dig deeper into the terminology?

I hoped they would describe it differently as the show went on, so I held on a while longer waiting for it to happen. Thankfully, they did include the term postpartum depression as the show continued and I felt a bit relieved about it.

Postpartum. Postpartum depression. So what’s the big deal?

Well, let’s start by defining what postpartum is.

Postpartum is the period of time immediately following childbirth and can last up to 6 months after childbirth.

It’s a span of time that each and every woman who gives birth experiences.

Postpartum in and of itself does not equal depression. And every woman experiences the postpartum period differently. Sometimes the postpartum period includes depression. Other times, it includes returning to your state of normalcy. Then there are times when different conditions occur and can be experienced at varying degrees. Examples of other conditions include, but are not limited to, postpartum blues, postpartum infections and postpartum birth related post traumatic stress disorder.

This wasn’t the only time I’ve heard the word postpartum used and left open ended in this way, so I must share that incorrectly defining such a term can have a major impact on those who are being newly introduced to the topic or those seeking care for their own condition.

As a nurse who has worked with hundreds of care providers in a variety of settings, I understand the importance of effectively communicating with your care provider.

I believe that women armed with misinformation, may experience one of two situations.

While interacting with your healthcare provider, you may proclaim, “I think I have postpartum!” Now, if your provider is kind and compassionate, they’ll take the time to listen, ask questions and gain a better understanding of the signs and symptoms you’re experiencing so they can determine what you’re going through and make a proper diagnosis.

On the other hand, you may proclaim, “I think I have postpartum!” And have your signs and symptoms completely dismissed because of your misuse of the terminology. Unfortunately, there are some providers who won’t take you seriously or won’t take the time to figure out what you actually mean or are experiencing. They may incorrectly assume that your lack of understanding of the words and phrases means that you don’t truly understand what you’re feeling and experiencing.

Messed up. I know. That’s why I’m explaining it.

When you’re seeking care, advocating for yourself and trying receive the help you need, it’s important to be well informed, as clear as possible and to keep trying if you feel like you’re not being heard.

Incorrectly describing postpartum depression, medical terminology, and any condition you’re experiencing, can, in some cases, prevent you from getting the care you need. That’s why it’s critical that you, and your advocates (those who speak for, stand with and support you) know what this and other terms mean and how to use them.


So tell me in the comments below. Have you ever felt like your care provider did not understand you, believe you or help you treat something you were going through?

Author: traciebraylock

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