Top Ten PPD Comments- Helpful and Not So Helpful

Helpful/Unhelpful Comments about PPDSome people make the most ridiculous comments.  When I was struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, some of the people I spoke to said things to me that were really unhelpful – so unhelpful that even though two plus years have passed, I haven’t forgotten these stupid, insensitive or misinformed comments.   In most cases, these people probably meant well, but their words still upset me. On the other hand, some people said things that brought me great comfort and provided solace while I was in the midst of such angst.

Ten Unhelpful Comments (Or Do You Bother to Think Before You Speak?)

1. “I don’t understand why you’re so sad. I didn’t feel like that when I had children.”

2. “Why are you crying again?”

3. “Maybe you’ll feel better when you lose more of the baby weight.”

4.  “Just get over it.”

5. “Maybe you don’t like babies.”

6. “I guess you’re definitely not planning for a second after this whole mess.”

7. “It’s actually really common for women your age to have this problem.  Since you’ve been independent for so long, it’s harder for you to adjust.  Younger mothers don’t have this problem.”  (I was 33! Does that make me ancient?)

8. “This is a reaction to giving birth. You’re still trying to regain the control you lost during your child’s birth.”  (This might make sense if I had had a traumatic birth experience, but I was fortunate enough to have a lovely, smooth and empowering birth experience.)

9. I sought relief for my insomnia and scary thoughts at the ER.  I expressed a concern about being away from my son.  The doctor at the ER said, “Your son won’t miss you.  You’re not that important to him.”

10. Still at the ER, I asked my mother to bring my son to me so I could nurse him.  Before my mother stepped into my room, I overheard someone tell her, “Don’t leave her alone with the baby.  Make sure you watch her closely when she holds him.”

Ten Helpful Comments

1. “Tell me about it.”

2. “This doesn’t make you a bad mom.”

3. “You’re not alone.”

4. “You’re asking for help.  You’re talking about it. You’re doing all the right things.”

5. “This has been a bump in the road. It gets better.”

6. “I love you.”

7. “I’m here to listen if you want to talk.”

8. “It’s not your fault.”

9. “You’re not going crazy. If you were crazy, you wouldn’t be reflective enough to wonder if you were crazy.”

10. “What you are going through is common and treatable.”

If you know someone who is struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, listen before you speak.  And when you do speak, consider the helpful comments above.

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5 Responses to Top Ten PPD Comments- Helpful and Not So Helpful

  1. All the “Not to” comments were pretty lame, but I think I like this one best:”I sought relief for my insomnia and scary thoughts at the ER. I expressed a concern about being away from my son. The doctor at the ER said, “Your son won’t miss you. You’re not that important to him.”
    geez! not much sensitivity training, huh?

  2. Charity says:

    Number 1 on the unhelpful list. Grr. So much grr. And the doctor was wrong. Your son does/did miss you.

    Number 9 on the helpful list so much.

  3. Kate T says:

    I really like the “helpul” list- some ofthe statements are so simple but maybe just what you ( or any other woman struggling with the same issues) needed to hear. I think oftentimes in our attempt to be helpful we feel we need to say “more” when maybe a simple “I love you” is best.

  4. Jason says:

    I can’t believe a physician actually said that to you. Wow!!

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