Beyond The Baby Blues: Understanding And Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Let's Thrive Postpartum | Postpartum Depression


Struggling after childbirth? You’re not alone! Today, Kelly Siebold and Ashley Moore dive into postpartum depression and anxiety, common conditions affecting many new moms. Learn the signs, how to create a postpartum plan for support, and resources to help you feel your best.

You’ll also hear about:

  • The difference between baby blues and postpartum depression/anxiety
  • Symptoms to watch out for
  • How to create a postpartum plan
  • The importance of self-care for new moms
  • Resources and support available

Don’t suffer in silence! Reach out for help and get back to feeling like yourself.

Download your free Postpartum Mental Health Plan today at

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Beyond The Baby Blues: Understanding And Overcoming Postpartum Depression & Anxiety

Welcome back to the show. I’m Kelly.

I’m Ashley. Thanks for joining us.

How’s your day going? How’s your week going?

I’m tired. I feel like it’s been a busy past couple of days. I’ve not been sleeping great.

That’s fair. There are so many of us who feel the exact same way. The sleeping not working well can mess with everything.

I know. It affects everything. How’s your day and week going?

Good. I am the opposite and energized. As we’re growing Thrive, I have been talking to so many experts who have been through something similar and who want to share their stories and help other moms. The amount of moms wanting to support moms gives me goosebumps and the amount of people who are like, “I’ve been there. I get it. What can I do?” Moms could change the world. I feel like we do anyway. It says a lot, the giving forward.

That’s the exciting thing about Thrive, the community that you’re building, and the show, sharing stories and having the space for women to share what’s been going on with them. It feels very special.

If you’re a mom tuning in and you want to share what’s going on with you have questions, or want to join our conversation, email us at We’d love to hear from you.

It’d be wonderful.

With that, we want to jump into a slightly different type of topic. We’ve been spending time talking with moms and experts about postpartum depression and anxiety. We wanted this to be one of those episodes that you can bookmark and come back to. We really want to talk about what is postpartum depression and anxiety, what you can do to plan for it, and whether there is anything you can do when you plan for it. This is to provide some of that sound education that you don’t have to read all the time but is here. When you need it, come back and find this episode.

This would be a really great episode for you to share with a friend, a family member, or someone who you feel like maybe there’s something going on. This one is going to be full of resources and education. This is like an interactive fact sheet.

Exactly. Let me start by talking about myself in particular. I didn’t know what was happening. I thought what I was going through was, “I’m oversensitive. This is normal motherhood,” but it was not. If I had known upfront some of the stuff that we were about to talk through, it could have helped me get support sooner and not have suffered for so long. That’s our goal, hoping to educate you if you’re not sure what you’re feeling. Is it normal? Is it not? Let’s answer some of those questions, Ashley.

Basic Definitions

That’d be great. I’m going to dive right in. I want to go over some basic definitions of some of the terms that you’ve probably heard us using and that you might hear your doctor use. The first one is going to be what a lot of people refer to as PMADs. Those are the Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Lots of people refer to them as PMADs for short.

The term perinatal is really important. That means the period while you are pregnant and after pregnancy. Perinatal covers pregnancy and the postpartum period. When you hear the word postpartum, that is post-pregnancy. Lots of places will say it’s considered up to twelve months. Many people are saying that it’s longer than that. Postpartum refers to the time after the baby has been born.

The other one I want to start off with that we hear a lot about, and you and I have talked a lot about this, is the baby blues. That is something that every mom seems to be familiar with. Not many people are as familiar with PMADs and all these other terms. The baby blues are that period right after birth up to two weeks where because of the drop in hormones and the big change in hormones, you’re experiencing some mood swings, like irritability. You’re going to have some anxiety, some fatigue, some sadness, and teariness. The classic example people hear about is crying at commercials and that kind of thing.

I did that.

I did too, so much. The important thing to note with baby blues is it occurs immediately after birth and it lasts no longer than two weeks. If things are going after two weeks and you’re still noticing big mood swings, big anxiety, depressive symptoms, and sadness, that is going to be an indicator that it’s possible that something else is going on.

Can I ask you a question about that?


2 weeks is up and I feel great, but then, someone else hits me 3 weeks later. Do baby blues come back?

No, it doesn’t. That is probably that there’s something else going on. Baby blues, and I’m not a medical professional here, is more linked to the big hormonal changes that are going on in a woman’s body after giving birth. We know that these perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can occur in a really wide range of time after somebody has given birth.

You might have the baby blues, and then you might feel great. You might not have the baby blues and feel great. We hear many women talk about months into the postpartum period when depression and anxiety hit. If you’re noticing any big changes after that two-week period, that is a sign that there could be something else going on.

That’s great to know. If it’s longer than two weeks, you probably want to start looking at what else it could be. It’s very time box.

Do you want to give information so that people know how often this occurs and how many people this affects? What are some of the stats and stuff that you’ve learned?

Postpartum Depression And Anxiety

That’s what it is. I love math. I love the stats behind things. It’s the dork in me. Not realizing how normal this was brings a lot of shame that moms put on themselves. This isn’t shameful. This is very normal. Postpartum depression and anxiety are the number one complication of childbirth hands down. Hearing the numbers behind it, it’s great to hear that it’s normal and it’s great, but 1 in 5 moms will get postpartum depression. If you look at your friend group or your family members, you likely know more than five women. One of them has it or has had it in their lifetime.

One in five moms will get postpartum depression. Share on X

If you’re looking in the United States for women who give birth every year, that comes out to between 800,000 and 1 million women who get postpartum depression anxiety every single year. What’s even more worrying or there’s more potential to help is that 75% of those women, so 600,000 women, are never diagnosed and never get help.

Postpartum depression and anxiety, and I know you’re going to talk about this, is treatable. The sooner you start getting help, the sooner you can start your recovery journey. It’s really reaching out to those 600,000 women who don’t know what this is. Maybe you don’t have a formal diagnosis, but being able to look and say, “Something isn’t right. How do I support myself? How do I ask for help?” Those are the conversations we want to have.


Let's Thrive Postpartum | Postpartum Depression


What’s interesting is postpartum depression doesn’t just occur in women. There are lots of reasons. It’s not just 100% hormone-related. There are all these other factors that can play into it. If you have postpartum depression, your husband is 50% likely to get it as well. At some point in his life, he’s 10% likely to have it while you are pregnant. 10% of men get it. If you’re struggling, it’s also very likely that your significant partner who’s in that household is going to get a form of postpartum depression for men as well.

There’s a lot we can do. It’s really normal. Once you think, “I’m not feeling great,” there are a million other moms in the same situation this year alone, dealing with it. It makes you want to have the conversation more. It’s also to realize you can go talk to your friends, your coworkers, or people that you interact with because the chances are extremely high. If they didn’t have it or suffer with it, they can point you to somebody who did.

The fact that you said 75% go undiagnosed, you’ll hear lots of people in the maternal world like, “Maybe that’s what I felt like, but I got through it. Now, I’m okay.” The thing is, why do you need to suffer for one more day longer than you need to? It’s not necessary. Reaching out, asking for help, leaning on support, and, in some cases, going to the roots of seeing a therapist and taking medication are all for the goal of helping women feel their best as quickly as possible. There’s no need to suffer for so long. That’s part of reducing the stigma and the shame around this because you can feel better. There are so many different options to help treat this. We’re here to share and try to spread the information.


Let's Thrive Postpartum | Postpartum Depression


You hit it spot on. As a mom, we think so much about our children, our partners, and everybody else to help, but you wouldn’t look at your child and say, “My child is suffering. He or she will get over it. I’m going to let it go. He or she will be fine in a year.” You would never do that. How do you look at that same compassion to yourself to say, “I don’t need to suffer. I could be better for myself. I could feel better.” You would do that for your kids. I love that you say you don’t have to suffer a day longer than you need to.

What To Look Out For

I always think about the quote, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” It’s not because you can do something that it means you should do it that way or it means you should live with it for as long as so many people do. Let’s dive in. We focus a lot on postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Parts of postpartum or what some people might say perinatal depression because it can occur while you’re pregnant as well as after you’ve given birth is you’re going to be seeing potential signs of anger, irritability, lack of interest in the baby or a difficult time bonding with your baby, appetite and sleep disturbance, crying, sadness, big feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness, loss of interest and joy or pleasure in things that you used to enjoy, and then potential thoughts of harming your baby or yourself.

One of the biggest things when we’re looking at mental illness is how it is affecting your ability to live life as you normally have. How is it impacting your daily living? If you’re seeing any of those, it could be a sign that there is something else going on. You can reach out for help. With postpartum anxiety, the list of those symptoms can include constant worry, always feeling like something bad is going to happen, racing thoughts, disturbances in your sleep and in your appetite, not being able to sleep, not being able to fall asleep, not being hungry, not being able to eat, and the inability to sit still.

There are even some physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea. These are symptoms that, if you’re experiencing them, could indicate that there is something else going on. Can you talk through with your experience what some of these look like? It’s easy for me to list off some symptoms, but what does this look like in real life? Let’s talk through that a little bit.

Everybody experiences it differently, so my experience is not likely your experience. You said it best to me when you and I first met and we were talking about our experiences through this. You said, “If it hinders your ability to function, it’s a problem.” That sums it up on so many different levels. I’ve been sad in my life, so I felt like, “Maybe postpartum depression wasn’t a thing,” but I remember sitting on the couch with my child whom I loved dearly, and feeling like my life was never going to be okay again.

Postpartum depression hinders your ability to function. It's a problem. Share on X

I had given up who I was. I remember seeing a therapist and talking about loneliness and how I was by myself. There was no happiness. There was no, “I’m so overjoyed and I loved my child.” It wasn’t that. It was that I was in a pit and it was pure dark, and I was there by myself. I wasn’t there by myself. I had friends and family. I could have done all these things, but mentally, I was there by myself. I remember thinking, “I don’t know how people do this.”

I started working with a therapist. I know Ashley and I start every episode that we try to do with, “What is bringing you happiness right now?” She had me sit down and try to write something that brings me happiness every day. I did not know a single thing I could do for myself that made me happy. Nothing. I had to make a list. I was like, “I have a minute. What is one thing?”

It’s looking back and realizing I had no joy. I didn’t feel like me anymore. The appetite changes that we talked about, either some people eat a lot or don’t. I comfort-fed myself with every horrible, unhealthy thing you could eat. It was the lowest of the low feelings. That’s not what I thought motherhood should have been.

Mine didn’t hit for weeks after. I made it through baby blues and I was great. Around week six is when all of this hit me at one time. It did change my ability to function as a happy person because I didn’t think I could function at all. It was how alone, desperate, and sad you could be. I didn’t realize I could be that sad and desperate.

That’s something we’ll talk about a little bit later when you’re communicating with your partner. Your partner will probably notice like, “Kelly, you used to enjoy doing this. You used to enjoy watching this. You used to enjoy going here and doing that. Now, you’re saying you don’t want to do any of it.” The thing is in those moments, you probably can’t even imagine that eating your favorite meal would even be enjoyable.

Nothing seemed like it was going to bring me happiness. There was no way out of the deep darkness that I was in. That’s not normal. Realizing this isn’t what every mother experiences, it took me a while to get help.

It’s something that is a sign that there’s extra attention that needs to be paid and brought to you. I know with anxiety, I had sleep and appetite disturbances. I couldn’t eat. Once it got dark outside, I suddenly felt like I was going to vomit all over the place. I couldn’t fall asleep constantly. I felt like I have to be looking and staring at my baby and that’s what is making him breathe.

I didn’t know that wasn’t normal.

I remember somebody telling me that at some point. I was like, “I’m worried a lot. I’m having a hard time sleeping,” and they were like, “Everybody does that.” I was like, “I literally cannot fall asleep.” They were like, “You probably should be able to sleep at least a little bit,” and I was like, oh. “A little? I can’t at all.”

I know this will come up multiple times, but it’s the whole phrase, and we’ve talked about triggers, both of us, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” When you have anxiety and you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps, I wanted to throat-punch the next person who said that to me. Our baby didn’t sleep very well, but that wasn’t a thing when you have anxiety or when you have to sit there and watch her sleep.

Some of the constant worry, we’ve talked a lot. This shows up in some ways as irrational thoughts. It’s this whole belief of, “If I go to sleep, something awful will happen to my baby.” We know that’s not grounded in reality. If you’re sitting there thinking, “What about me going to sleep is going to make something bad happen to my baby?” Nothing. There is nothing about one person going to sleep that’s going to make or cause something else awful to happen. Also, there are those intrusive thoughts. Something moms bring up all the time are these intrusive, scary thoughts, which are very normal and terrifying.

One of my favorite things to say is, “Two things can be true,” that I heard from another psychologist out there. Two things can be true. Something can be so scary. It can be terrifying, and it can be normal. It’s part of this mindset that happens. It’s okay to ask for help and work through them because sitting alone with scary thoughts is terrifying. It messes with you. Those are another sign of like, “I need to talk this through someone. I don’t need to hold this by myself. It doesn’t even necessarily mean intrusive thoughts that something is wrong, but it does mean it’s not something you need to hold by yourself.

It's okay to ask for help and work through them because sitting alone with scary thoughts is terrifying and it messes with you. Share on X

It is terrifying. We’ve talked about this before. Intrusive thoughts were what I call my bottom. That was when I had been having anxiety and I had been going through depression. I had months of that. The intrusive thoughts of my child dying over and over kept hitting like black-and-white Polaroid pictures. I felt ashamed about that. How do you tell your husband, “I keep having thoughts of my child dying,” without saying, “I’m not a harm to my child. I wasn’t going to do it. I knew that.” I was overly protective and overly anxious about keeping her healthy which started showing as intrusive thoughts.

It is normal, and that was something I had never heard about. It was the very first question my therapist asked, and I was terrified saying yes was going to mean they were going to take my child from me. That was my number one fear. How do you say, “I have this, but don’t take my child because I’m a good one.” It was that irrational fear, but knowing they’re normal is groundbreaking. I wish every mom knew this was a possibility and they’re not a bad mom.

It’s something I experienced myself. It’s something I hear from so many moms. Almost every single mom is like, “I was so scared to tell someone that this is what was going on in my brain because I thought that there was something horribly wrong with me.” The thing is intrusive thoughts are just thoughts. Thoughts are not actions. Thoughts are not intent.

We don’t touch a whole lot on this, but there is a big difference between an intrusive thought, which is this picture playing in your mind of something horrible happening, and what is more associated with postpartum psychosis. That is where there might be hallucinations, hearing things, seeing things, and thinking that some of these intrusive thoughts are good ideas or something that you would act on and make sense of.

If your intrusive thoughts are scaring you, that is a positive sign because it means your brain is trying to integrate so many things as you go into motherhood in terms of how everything about your life has changed. If your intrusive thoughts are scaring you, that’s a positive thing because it means that you know this isn’t something you’re going to do and this is something you would never do. It makes no sense, so your brain is like, “What is going on? What the heck?”

Few people get postpartum psychosis. I know it makes the news and we hear about it, but 1 out of every 1,000 deliveries is the stat where 1 in 5 get postpartum depression anxiety. There’s a huge difference between that, so the likelihood is small. You’re right. It’s feeling bad about it that is a good thing.

If anybody does have thoughts that they are thinking that this might be something that they would act on or their intrusive thoughts are not scaring them, then that is a sign that we normally would say immediate medical attention. If this is something you’ve noticed in your partner or you may not be noticing it in yourself but that is something, go to the nearest emergency room, call your doctor, and get some immediate help. That’s where there’s a really big concern of risk to the mother and for the baby.

You’re right. 988 is the suicide hotline. There are a lot of numbers you can call. Watch out for your partner. If we’ve talked about, “This is normal. There are a lot of things that don’t feel good,” how do we plan for this? Can you plan for this? Let’s think about it. You’ve spent nine months growing a baby. You’ve gone through delivery.

Assuming we’re talking about postpartum, I was a Type A planner. I read every baby book. I wanted to know everything and that I should have my baby registry. I had fourteen different sizes of pacifiers because what if she wanted 1 over the other? All of these things that I did were for my child. I remember having a conversation with my husband and saying, “Watch out for this. Postpartum depression could be a thing. Let’s watch out for it.” We did nothing to mentally plan or prepare to help me. I didn’t know that was a thing I should do. Is there something that, as a mom, you could do to help yourself or start planning for this potential?

Yeah. There is what we call and what Thrive has is creating a postpartum plan. This is not a plan for the baby. This is a plan for the mom. Mothers have a hard time focusing on themselves. Let’s cover a couple of points about why it’s important for moms to focus on themselves and be able to have a plan to help them feel supported through the postpartum recovery process. There are a couple of more facts. I’m going to spit it to you really fast, and then we can soften it with some conversation.

We do know that mothers who have untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are more likely to have a harder time managing their own health and have poor nutrition. It’s going to be more likely that some of these mothers may be turning to substances like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs to help manage the symptoms that they’re experiencing. They might be less responsive to their baby’s cues, have a harder time bonding with their baby, have fewer positive reactions with their baby or with their children, and experience breastfeeding challenges.

PMADs can be a big contributing factor for women who are having a hard time breastfeeding. It causes women to question their competence as a mom. As we all know as moms who have been there, when you’re not feeling very confident about your ability to be a mom, that also has a huge impact on this experience that most women are telling themselves, “It’s supposed to be really enjoyable and happy.”

Postpartum Planning

I tell clients of mine all this time, “Healthy parents raise healthy kids. If you can take care of yourself, you’re going to improve your interactions and bonding with your children, which is going to have more positive outcomes down the road with the relationship between you and your child.” There are so many things that you can do. When it comes to postpartum planning, why don’t you talk a little bit about the framework that Thrive has and some of the four things that we want to think about when it comes to the postpartum plan?

Healthy parents raise healthy kids. Share on X

If you want a free postpartum plan that you can print out, use as your own directory, and think through your thoughts, go to It’s free. Download it. Fill it out. It can help you start thinking through some of these things. What we want to talk about is stuff that you can sit here and think through in your head with a piece of paper, but looking at practical supports for you as a mom.

As a mom with a baby, you take your child to the pediatrician regularly in the first six months. You do certain checkups and do certain things, but what are you doing for yourself? We are looking through that practical support, and we are focusing it on the Thrive method framework, which looks at your whole self. We’re looking at your body. The first part is your sleep. How are you eating your nutrition? How is your water intake and your movement or what is called exercise? All of those things play into how you can support yourself.

How are you looking at your mind with those mental health check-ins? How are you reframing negative thoughts? What are you saying to yourself internally? What are you looking at and supporting for your soul? By soul, we consider that as what makes you you. It can be those happy moments that I couldn’t find for the life of me. It’s those things of social check-ins and things that make you feel better.

It is then looking at your role as a new mom, whether you have your 1st child or if this is your 5th child. How does that impact the basic practical stuff that you’re going through that first year? Who’s doing chores? Who’s doing certain things? Who is helping you? Are you going back to work? All of these things play into a plan that can help you have a little bit of structure to make sure that you are supporting yourself and also identifying when you may need additional help.

It’s so important for this plan. It’s downloadable. You can fill it in. I recommend having this plan and having a copy of it. Give a copy to your spouse or your partner. Give a copy to other support people who are around you so that they know what your hopes are, what your wishes are, and what support people are in place. This is covering what is the plan for sleeping and what those shifts are going to look like with your physical recovery.

If this happens, are you going to need to be in bed? Who’s going to be helping out with X, Y, and Z? It is really thinking through all these different parts of what the mom’s life looks like after the baby comes. Who’s bringing meals? Who’s cooking? Is your partner going to do a mental health check-in with you and help rate how you’re feeling to help keep an eye out for any big mood concerns?

With visitors, who are allowed to come visit the baby? What is the policy in terms of who can hold her? Do you want people to wash their hands first? It is all these things that you don’t necessarily think about ahead of time but can really cause a lot of anxiety at the moment when they come up. Who’s doing your laundry? Who’s going to take out the trash or walk your dog?

Everybody’s life is different, which is why a postpartum plan is going to be unique to every single person who’s having a baby. This is something that should be done for any woman. It doesn’t matter if you’re worried about certain mental health conditions or that kind of thing. This is a chance for us to say as women, “How am I going to be taken care of after my body has done the most heroic thing that a body will ever do?”

The body is recovering from it and you’re probably a little sleep-deprived at the exact same time.

A postpartum plan is something that never even occurred to me. I was like, “I’ve got a couple of frozen meals in the freezer,” and that was about it. I was like, “I’ll keep doing laundry. I’ll make sure the dogs go on a walk. I’ll put them by the stroller.” It then became this list of all these things I had to figure out when I was not feeling great. It was this extra layer of anxiety, frustration, and confusion.

Personally, for me, if I had a plan and had it laid out, and I did with my second, it streamlined the communication between me and my husband. It let them know, “This is what I need. These are people I can call.” Have your doctor’s phone numbers. Have some postpartum support groups. Have those phone numbers and contact info ready to go because there’s nothing worse than trying to find information when you don’t feel good.

That’s what I did. I remember sitting in bed, bawling my eyes out, searching the internet for a postpartum certified therapist in the state of South Carolina who could help me. It was reaching out, getting on the waitlist, finding they weren’t available, and trying to go to the doctors. It was not a fun time. If you think through a plan and say, “If I start to feel bad, what am I going to do?” or you can’t find someone nearby, or you don’t know what that plan is going to be, I highly consider coming to join Thrive Postpartum.

Let us be your community. Let us be your support. Jump in and meet other moms. Join some support groups. It’s a great way to find other people going through it and also get some education about different things that you can do for yourself. It’s a good plan. If you don’t have a local source, let us be that source.

Joining support groups is a great way to find other people going through the same thing and get some education about different things you can do for yourself. Share on X

You don’t need something to be wrong to have community and to have support. It’s something everybody deserves. The more women who can focus on themselves a little bit after giving birth and think, “What do I need? What feels good for me? What feels restorative? What makes me feel connected to other people?” there’s nothing wrong with that, but we have such a hard time focusing on ourselves.

Have that plan and know what you’re going to do. Let all your support people know your plan, but even with a plan, it’s still likely that 1 in 5 are going to get this. Having a plan will not likely keep you from getting postpartum depression and anxiety, but what it will do will help you identify, “I don’t feel as good as I should. What am I going to do to start getting help?” The sooner you start getting support, the sooner you can start that recovery journey. That’s our goal for you. How do we equip you with ways to help identify, “I need help,” versus sitting and suffering a day longer than you have to?

It’s all about, for so many women, shortening the time span from realizing that they need help to getting help and feeling better. We want that to be as short as possible.

The Recovery

Let’s talk really quickly while we’re in this about what that recovery experience looks like. Everybody has a different experience, so everybody’s recovery is going to look different, but there are some generalizations. Of that 1 million women, 1 in 5 who get postpartum depression and anxiety, 50% on average start to get relief in 3 to 6 months. That’s a long time still. 25% are 6 months to 1 year before they start feeling better with support. Another group, 25%, takes longer than a year. I was one of those lucky 25% who didn’t last longer than a year. The more you had treatment and the more you could support yourself, the better.

Did you have the same experience? I feel like it’s not linear where one day, you wake up and it’s gone. It’s very much a 1 step forward, 4 steps back, and then a little bit more forward and back. There are good days and bad days. Having a plan thought through can help you identify, “I’ve taken a couple of steps back. I’ve identified it and I’m aware of it. What can I do for my plan to move myself back forward?” Was that similar to you?

Yeah. Mine was up and down. Over time, it was a generally upward trajectory, but lots of ups and downs.

That’s it. A general over time, moving it forward one day at a time because this is curable. We’re going to include some of these stats, so come to and check out our blog. We’ve got links to where all these stats come from. They are from Postpartum Support International and the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance. There are great organizations that are fighting for policy changes in support of women. We’re using a lot of their data that they are publicly sharing. Also, come get a free plan. Plan this out. Equip yourself with as much as you can. If we can help you, feel free to email us and chat with us. We’d love to know what you think and how else we can help.

If there’s anything that comes up that’s concerning, we always encourage women, “Reach out to your doctors. Tell a friend. Let somebody know that you are not feeling your best so that you can step into action, step into your plan, and get on the road to feeling better.”

We hope this free plan is helpful. You can always reach Ashley and me at We look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Thanks.

Thank you.


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