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Postpartum Series Part Two: No More Postpartum Silence

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Bringing home a newborn involves a variety of stressors. New parents must learn how to feed, care for and console a new child … all while contending with sleep deprivation, fluctuating hormones, cultural expectations around parenthood and, in many cases, an imminent return to work.

Stress and anxiety are so common for new parents that symptoms of more serious postpartum mental health concerns are often overlooked. And as with any mental illness, experiences with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and other postpartum mental health issues are stigmatized and frequently met with silence.

Host Anita Rao speaks with visual artist A’Driane Nieves about her experience of being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder after the birth of her second child, and about how painting became an important means of breaking the silence around postpartum mental health. Rao then speaks with Shannon Purdy Jones, co-owner of Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, about how a traumatic experience with bodyfeeding contributed to her postpartum depression. Darren Jones, Shannon’s husband and the director of pricing at Mack Trucks, Inc, speaks about navigating postpartum mental health concerns as a non-birthing partner.

Thank you to all the voice note contributors for trusting us with their stories and helping to shape this episode: Kyesha Jennings, Taylor Matthews, Elice, Jamie, Brianna Battles, Nick Knittel, Kate Gardner, Amanda Magnus, Priyanka Rao, Anna Wallace and BB Ware.

Three Ways to Show up for Postpartum Folks

  1. Don’t come over just to “visit.” When you’re visiting someone who’s in their postpartum period, don’t expect to be entertained. Bring a meal, offer to help with laundry or dishes and be considerate of their pumping or nursing schedules.

  • Be a safe person to vent to. Becoming a new parent is incredibly stressful, so be prepared to listen to your postpartum loved one’s concerns without trying to solve them. Simply holding space for their concerns and validating their feelings can go a long way.
  • Leave judgments at the door. On top of all the other stressors, new parents frequently have to deal with criticism and unsolicited advice from others. Unless you’re concerned for someone’s physical safety, it’s important to recognize that their parenting choices can look different from yours…and still be totally valid.
  • Copyright 2022 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit North Carolina Public Radio.

    Audrey Smith
    Anita Rao is the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. She has traveled the country recording interviews for the Peabody Award-winning StoryCorps production department, founded and launched a podcast about millennial feminism in the South, and served as the managing editor and regular host of "The State of Things," North Carolina Public Radio's flagship daily, live talk show. Anita was born in a small coal-mining town in Northeast England but spent most of her life growing up in Iowa and has a fond affection for the Midwest.