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Having Another Child After Experiencing Pregnancy-Related Depression & Anxiety

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Having another child is a difficult decision for anyone, but making the decision to have another child after experiencing pregnancy-related depression and anxiety is even more difficult and scary.  Growing up I always wanted to have two children, a boy and a girl. My husband and I got exactly that, but neither feel ready to stop after our second. There are a lot of things to consider, but one of the biggest obstacles for us is my struggle with pregnancy-related  depression and anxiety after my daughter was born.

We just celebrated our baby’s 3rd birthday this last weekend.  It’s hard to believe that 3 years ago I was bringing her home and a few weeks later I started experiencing pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.  I refer to that time as a “dark time”.  I feel like I missed out on so much of my little girl’s life because of it.  I never want to feel that way again, so why would my husband and I be considering having a third child?!

For the last two years we have been going back and forth about having a third child.  Some days I think I just want to have another baby because I missed out on our daughter’s first 6-9 months of life.  It was a horrible time where I had thoughts of hurting my baby and toddler, and thoughts about just packing up and leaving everyone and starting over.  I felt like I was a selfish mom because I wanted my time back to myself. I struggled with feelings of intense love and intense hate for my sweet baby. Somedays I would comment to my husband that I’m a horrible mother and I should never have had kids.  I resented my husband for being able to sleep and not getting woken up at night by the baby. The sleepless nights took a toll on me and my mental wellbeing. Being a working mother and one who works the night shift did not help any of that either.

I don’t want to go through pregnancy-related depression and anxiety again and I don’t want my family to have to go through it.  As a nurse in Labor and Delivery I know my chances of experiencing pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are increased because of my history.  I have also learned in the last 2+ years that I have an amazing support system who will be there for me. After I spoke up and started being open about my experience I had so many friends and co-workers tell me they would have been there for me if I had just told them.

The decision to have another baby after my experience became easier as I considered my resources and my work with a local pregnancy-related depression and anxiety group.  I decided that I want to spend the next year enjoying my time with my daughter before we do bring another baby into our family. During that time I will take care of myself.  I will continue to take my medications and I will tap into my support system when I start getting overwhelmed.  I will take time for myself and not feel guilty.  As a mother I know how much my children need me, but I also know that I need to take care of myself in order to take care of them.  I will also take the time to start seeing a counselor so that I have things in place ahead of time. I will also be honest and speak up about what I am experiencing and ask for help.  I know that is easier said than done, but feel if I have the resources in place, including a husband who knows what to look for, I’ll get help for myself sooner if I experience it again.

Making the decision to have another baby after experiencing any sort of perinatal mood disorder is a personal decision.  I am not telling anyone what to do; a woman needs to decide what is best for her and for her family.  If you do decide to have another child, get your support system in place, talk to your OB/GYN, check out your local resources, and have a plan ahead of time so it is all in place in case you need it.  Share your plan with your support system so they know how to best help you.

You don’t have to be “supermom”. It’s okay to take care of yourself so you can take care of your family.  It’s okay to ask for help. For more information about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, including local support groups and resources, I encourage you and your support system to visit postpartum.net/colorado or call 1-800-944-4773.

By Ashlyn R. Baird

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