After experiencing a miscarriage in 2017, Shawn Johnson says she struggled with postpartum depression. It made the former Olympic gymnast concerned she'd deal with the condition again after her daughter, Drew, was born in October 2019.
In a recent virtual meetup facilitated by Peanut, a social networking app for moms, Johnson answered questions submitted by moms in the online community. Johnson was asked whether she had postpartum depression after Drew's birth.
"I think 'yes' and 'no,'" Johnson said. "I had some hard days that were like, I just bawled and I needed Andrew to just hug me and stuff, but I think I had postpartum after I miscarried."
"We went through the miscarriage and my OB/GYN — it's just like the words he spoke were so comforting and made me feel human again," Johnson continued," "but after I miscarried, I felt like I was in kind of a postpartum depression for a while — one that took me a while to get out of."
After becoming pregnant again, Johnson said she was "hyper-aware" that postpartum depression was a real possibility once her daughter arrived.
"After I had Drew, I had 'check-ins' with Andrew every single day," the 28-year-old shared. "Like, 'This is how I felt and this is why, and this is what I need help with,' just so I could try to protect myself from going through that again."
Dr. Rebecca Weinberg, a psychologist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who specializes in women's behavioral health, says in addition to experiencing a grief reaction after miscarriage or stillbirth, it is possible for women to have postpartum depression following a loss.
But Weinberg warns not all sadness or strong emotions are a sure sign of depression.
"About 80% of women will experience the baby blues," Weinberg told TODAY Parents, "which can involve some tearfulness, irritability and difficulty sleeping, but these symptoms are mild and do not interfere with a mom's ability to take care of herself or the baby."
To keep an eye out for possible postpartum depression, Weinberg says it's a good idea for women to have their husbands or partners look our for signs of the condition, whether through daily check-ins like Johnson or by making them aware of things to look out for in the postpartum period before the baby is born.
According to Weinberg, couples looking to have their own daily check-ins might ask the following questions:
- Are you experiencing frequent tearfulness?
- Are you feeling sad or irritable?
- Do you feel a loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy?
- Do you feel a lack of interest in the baby or feelings of resentment toward the baby?
- Has there been a change in your appetite or sleep habits?
- Do you have feelings of guilt or self-blame? Or, do you feel that you're a bad mom?
- Have you had suicidal thoughts or thoughts about harming the baby?
If daily check-ins are not a possibility, partners should be aware of, and on the lookout for, the above symptoms of depression.
Weinberg suggests those concerned or seeking help follow up with their OB/GYN, who should be able to provide mental health resources and prescribe medication or visit Postpartum Support International, which has a variety of resources, including a search for the provider nearest you who treats postpartum depression.