Post-Partum Illnesses Explained

Post-Partum Illnesses Explained

Hello everyone! I’m Kristin, a busy mama and blogger over at This Wife & Mommy Life . I’m so grateful Kay asked me to guest post about post-partum illnesses on her wonderful blog and I hope that you’ll find some very valuable and insightful information on this topic.

I, along with many other women, have a lot of experience with this topic as I suffered from post-partum depression, anxiety and rage while pregnant which worsened after having my last baby. It was absolutely awful and terrifying to live with and it impacted every single part of my life even with medication. I finally found some relief once I started my blog and began sharing my own very personal and scary experience with others. Although this illness is improving as my daughter just turned one, it’s still there but I remain hopeful that someday it will be a distant memory.

Entering Pregnancy

As a new mom my concerns, questions and reading mainly centered around pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Is this feeling normal? What size is my baby this week? When do the different systems develop? Do we have everything for baby? Should my breasts be leaking? What are the signs of labor? How bad is this going to hurt? What if she can’t fit? What the hell is that?

I’m honestly not sure if I put much thought into anything beyond pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. I’m an educated woman with 2 degrees and I taught high school biology along with anatomy and physiology at the time. I feel like I should have realized that things were going to happen following birth… I mean an actual, functioning human being was going to come out of me and I didn’t think about the effects that would have???

Entering Post-Partum

I don’t remember hearing or reading much about post-partum and I definitely don’t recall anyone talking to me about their experience following labor, until after I had my baby of course. I’m not even sure this topic was something I was aware of but I now believe it’s one of the most important topics related to motherhood and all parents, yes I’m including the partners as it greatly impacts them too!

This simple graphic briefly explains the key points of 3 extremely common post-partum changes. Keep in mind that these percentages may be quite a bit higher as many women either do not report their symptoms or aren’t “diagnosed” with the following.


Baby blues are commonly due to the hormonal shift experienced following birth and typically go away within a couple weeks up to a month post-partum. If you’re experiencing symptoms of baby blues after this time, it could be something more serious.

In 2013, the largest scale depression screening of 10,000 postpartum women was performed by a Medicine Researcher at Northwestern University. Their results were surprisingly high as 14% of the women screened positive for depression, that’s 1,400 women in a short time frame from 1 hospital!

“A lot of women do not understand what is happening to them,” Katherine L. Wisner, M.D said. “They think they’re just stressed or they believe it is how having a baby is supposed to feel… Most of these women would not have been screened and therefore would not have been identified as seriously at risk.”

Of those women who tested positive, 270 reported thoughts of harming themselves and 308 women had bipolar disorder, the majority of whom had not been diagnosed by their physicians (postpartum is the highest risk period for new episodes of mania in a woman’s life).

Statistic provided by Northwestern University

“That’s a very high rate of bipolar disorder that has never been reported in a population screened for postpartum depression before,” said Wisner. “It is significant because antidepressant drug treatment alone can worsen the course of bipolar disorder.”

When a new mother is depressed, her emotional state can interfere with child development and increases the rate of insecure attachment and poor cognitive performance of her child, Wisner said.

Read more about the study here.

I hope this post helped to explain a few common post-partum illnesses; please keep in mind that there are more “varieties” than what I’ve talked about here and not every woman is affected in the same way. And as I said previously, I honestly had very little to no knowledge of post-partum illness until I ended up dealing with it myself. I’ve learned a lot just by looking it up, writing these posts, talking about it, and attempting to understand my own struggles.

Want to read personal stories of other women’s experiences of depression, anxiety, rage, attempted suicide, hospitalization and loss? Check out real stories, real sadness here.

As always, reach out, ask for help, comment or follow me (link to:

~ Kristin


  1. Hi Kristin,thanks for writing this article. It really helped me understand post-partum illnesses.

    I never really understood what post-partum illness or depression is. I mean, I know what it is but what I don’t understand is how a mother can actually resent her baby. Aren’t new mothers supposed to be excited to welcome their baby into this world?

    I read about the case of one mother who not only did not want to hold or look at her baby but worse, she wanted to harm her. I was shocked, I thought that was insane! Does this happen only to first time mothers? And how should mothers deal with PPD?

    • Thank you for reading! Unfortunately, it can affect first time or fifth time moms. I didn’t have ppd with my first, only with my second baby. I think that’s how I knew something was off. There are so many levels of post-partum illness and due to that, crazy hormones, stress, lack of sleep, etc it’s not uncommon for mothers to not have that instant connection and bond with their baby. Unfortunately, there are many cases (mostly undiagnosed) of post-partum rage that women do end up harming themselves or their babies or they have to limit their time with the baby or take medication to prevent such an episode. I’ve talked to few mothers about ppd and one ended up attempting suicide, another ended up in a mental hospital following birth and many others just lacked that joyous, emotional bond. It’s heart breaking. But it’s real and it happens way more often that most people realize. The best way to deal with is talk about it, talk to your DR, see a counselor, etc.

  2. I think this article has a lot of great information. You are so correct that many new moms don’t even consider the hormonal changes that take place and the possibility of postpartum. I wasn’t told when I had my first child many years ago. That is why I am thankful for articles like this that inform others of what to look out for and that if they do have it, they are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.