Postpartum depression is direly prevalent; so why is it so often pushed under the rug?
Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Courtney Cox, and Celine Dion are just a few of the celebrity moms who have voiced their personal struggles with PPD; yet it’s a mental illness that is seldom addressed.
Brooke Shields—a pioneer figure for stepping up about her PPD—published a book in 2004, titled Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression. Her urge to be the voice for mothers has been unyielding; as she narrates Jamielyn Lippman’s new documentary, When the Bough Breaks (not to be confused with Jon Cassar’s 2016 film by the same name). Lippman’s documentary was created by a group of women as a project to help mothers and their families understand the dire (and sometimes fatal) issue of PPD; an issue often trivialized and tabooed. Many who have never experienced such syndromes often fail to recognize it as a real disorder and simply blame the mother for lacking an “instinctual love” for their baby.
When the Bough Breaks focuses on the cracks of the American justice system and the shortcomings of OB/GYNs. Tragic stories of moms who have killed their babies due to PPD are simply regarded heinous without a consideration for the more grounded neurological reasons behind the violence. It is a failure of the understanding that even the strongest of women can crack under pressure.
In other parts of the world, such as in Asia, women who have just given birth are put to rest for up to a month, before taking on the overwhelming tasks of taking care of an infant baby and household chores. All the meanwhile recovering from labor, which is often equated to running multiple marathons without any breaks. Such tradition of rejuvenation is regarded so crucial, there’s even a name for it; “Sitting Moon,” a concept of following the cycle of the moon for recovering after pregnancy. Through counseling, medication, and the support of families and friends, mothers can overcome this period in motherhood; and the documentary tracks the progress of Lindsay Gerszt to prove that such readjustment is possible, albeit difficult. However, the documentary also reminds us of the criticality of PPD: two women in the film who have opened up about their experiences have taken their own lives by the completion of this film. When the Bough Breaks provides hope, while also portraying the stark reality of motherhood.