Depression during pregnancy and postpartum is real — even if it isn’t a popular topic in the Black community. It is a dangerous condition that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says affects between 14-23 percent women at some point in their pregnancy. It may be brought on by many factors such as the stress of the pregnancy itself or even a relapse of past depression, but it often goes undiagnosed and can be mistaken for hormonal imbalance.
Every woman should be screened during this time when depression can affect her child, too. Screening, the recommendation says, reduces depression symptoms in mother and child because it gives the mother time to set up a needed support system.
Tamera Mowry-Housley, host of “The Real,” is one star who has openly shared her history of depression. When the actress had her first child, she says was able to avoid postpartum depression through preparation.
“I was so worried that I was going to get it because I have experienced depression before, and let me just tell you that it is no fun at all (obviously),” Mowry-Housely said in a 2013 blog post. “It’s a very scary situation to go through, and I was especially worried about going through it again after having Aden. Luckily, I didn’t get it – but, I did do enough research to feel like I would be prepared if I did.”
When Nicole Watson, a mother of two, started crying uncontrollably after her second birth, she knew something was wrong. The licensed clinical social worker had a history of miscarriages so when her second child had complications, the experience left her in a state of post-traumatic stress — one that she luckily noticed because of her clinical background.
“I definitely think that they should screen during pregnancy because if you have a history of miscarriages, having a successful pregnancy can be really hard because you’re really worried: Is the baby okay? Did I make it today? Did the baby kick today? Having had a miscarriage, all of those things are very present.”
Although a depression screening should be done by a medical professional, here are some ways to alleviate stress and anxiety before and after childbirth.