Growing Your Family After Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

By Kelley Allen

My husband and I have started talking about whether or not to have a second child. I have to believe that it’s a hard choice for any parent given the work involved in raising more than one human being at a time. With or without postpartum depression and anxiety, parenting is tough. The biggest fear coming up for both of us is postpartum depression. After being hit so hard in the year after our daughter was born, we are both terrified of experiencing it again. I wonder if I could survive it again. I wonder who would take care of our daughter and also a new baby if I were not well enough to do it. We don’t have any family nearby to help. My husband did the lion’s share of the work during my hardest time last year and the thought of him having to do it again, with two children in addition to a full-time stressful job, is almost too much for me to bear.


When we first started talking about it, he said he wasn’t sure if he could see me go through it again and didn’t want to have another child. At first, I was angry with him for this reaction. We had always talked about having two children and I felt he was setting me up for guilt with whatever decision we chose – guilt at only being able to have one child because of my PPD/A, as well as guilt if I do experience it again after having a second child. But I know that wasn’t his intention and we have continued to talk about it since. I now see that he was placing more value on me and my mental health than the possibility of another baby.


I know there are things I would do differently regarding prevention and support if we were to have another child. But I have to be realistic about my increased risk of PPD having already had it once, as well as a history of depression. My experience is still so raw. So the questions I ask myself are “Does this fear ever go away? At what point will we know whether or not we should try to have another child?”


For some reason seeing mothers with more than one child during my PPD/A was the hardest. The thoughts going through my head included “I don’t have what it takes to be a mother.” “Why would you ever do this again?” “Why am I not enjoying this enough (or why am I not good enough) to WANT to do this again?”


I have met a lot of other parents through my experience who have decided that the experience and risk of PPD/A is too high. A decision to care for a mother’s mental health is very rarely discussed. Finding women who have decided that one child is enough, whatever the reason, is rare, but there are stories out there. I recently came across a post here of a mother talking about this decision for her and her family. I fear there is a sense in today’s world that having only one child is bad. My husband and I have certainly heard our fair share of “When are you having your second?” or “Your daughter needs a sibling.” There is no right number of children to have. Every family is different. Every child is different.


For us, we recently met with a reproductive psychiatrist who spoke about prevention with regards to medication and therapy. She spoke of the risk of recurrence, about patterns repeating themselves. I feel “recovered” to a certain degree and now have some distance from the worst part of my PPD/A, however hearing this from her spiked my anxiety. I keep trying to remind myself to expect the worst, but hope for the best. She also spoke a lot about how everything is manageable. It may happen again, but it can be managed and we will get through it. My concern with this is how will we get through it with a very aware 3-year-old? How do we continue to parent her while going through it again?


We get help. If it happens, we get help.


We are to the point of thinking we will try again. And here’s why – what we went through will always be worth it because of what we came out with – our daughter. We can’t remember life without her, and I didn’t understand the concept of unconditional love before I became a mother. I am certain this would be the case with another child, if we have another one. With that being said, I also know that our life is quite full as it is now. We have an amazing daughter and we are all together and healthy. We aren’t going to try again because we feel pressure to have another, or because we think having only one child is bad. It is because we want to and it feels right for our family. I have many days where I worry that I am risking my mental health and the health of our family by trying again. But for us, after a lot of time and a lot of discussion, it is a risk we are going to take.


With that being said, I can not emphasize enough how important it is to really look at how you are feeling, what you want long-term, and what kind of prevention and support you have in place. This decision isn’t about what other people think or are telling you to do. It is you and your family’s decision. It has taken me nearly 3 years to get to the point of even considering the possibility of it. So if you’re not there yet, or you decide not to, accept that it is okay. You are important enough and know yourself and what you can handle best. Work to take care of your family, whether it be one child or ten, and work to take care of yourself.

11 Responses to “Growing Your Family After Postpartum Depression and Anxiety”

  1. Liz

    Hurrah for getting to the point of thinking you’re ready to try again! I also reached that point 3 years after my first. I never thought I would get there. What I can also share is that I am now almost 2 years after my 2nd – and it was one of the most satisfying, rewarding life experiences I’ve had. I not only had an incredibly positive postpartum, the experience healed scars from my initial postpartum wounds. It took a lot of conscious choices and thoughtful planning to ensure the right support. If sharing my story could be helpful, I would be more than happy to connect.

  2. Megan

    As I read your post, I felt that you were taking the thoughts right out of my brain and placing them right before my eyes. I still do not know what our ( my husband and I) decision will be, since we have been pondering on the idea of having a second child for a few months. I currently have a therapist and psychiatrist in place as I continue to be on medication for anxiety. Perhaps you know about what supports to put in place prior to having a second child? I know for certain that I would need a night nanny so that I can get rest the first couple of weeks, postpartum. But I am not sure what other supports I should consider. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  3. Vesa

    Liz, I just found out I’m pregnant. I had PPD/a with my first child. After 5 yrs we decided to have another child and I really thought I was ready. Now that I’m pregnant my having so much anxiety due to the fear of having to go thru that terrible time again. I would love to hear your positive story and help cheer me up. Knowing that it can be done again would really help! Thank you for sharing. It means a lot!


  4. Aimee Pelletier

    Hi Liz. If you are still willing to share, I would love to hear your story. My first child is now 7, and I think I am feeling ready to have a second. Hearing your positive story would help me. Thank you.

  5. Meghann Duplessis

    Thank you for sharing! I have two children now. My oldest daughter is almost 3 and is special needs. Our second daughter is 11 months now and I had PPD after her. It hit one month after I gave birth and I barely made it to the 6 week check up. Thanks for sharing once again!! I blogged about it because it really helped me. I posted the site.

  6. Victoria ross

    I was reading this while considering a third child. I had very bad ppd with my firtst daughter, got on medication and spoke with a psychiatrist and decided 2 years later to try for another. I believe my anxiety stems from miscarriages that I have had before my first and second. I am responding to share that having a second can be different. I did start experiencing anxiety around 7 months, I recognized that it was worsening. I decided to go back on medication at 8 months pregnant. I was scared that it may harm my baby, but my dr told me that the stress on my body was equally harmful. I immediately felt like myself, saw joy in things again, and was able to actually enjoy my second newborn. It can be different, it can be enjoyable. I am so incredibly grateful for the positive ecperience. There is hope!

  7. Anna

    Kelley, I really commend you on writing this. There’s a lot of power in knowing that you aren’t the only mother processing these issues! No matter your experience, the postpartum period is serious work. I found myself in a deep pit of separation with reality after my son was born. If it hadn’t been for our community (with the military, family and our church) I honestly don’t know if I would’ve made it to the next day. And the day after that. Until we were finally able to breathe and experience glimmers of joy within parenting. My desire to have another child is still there, but the real question is how?? To have another biologically sends me into traumatic shock waves of anxiety and fear. I continue to test my true desires with reading the symptoms and stories of Postpartum Psychosis. You have reminded me of something profound in all this dithering in my mind: That there IS help. Not only spoken of, but experienced! No matter how we proceed as a family or whether or not my chances are higher for another episode, I am not alone.
    Thank you for that reminder! Blessings and hugs <3

  8. Hannah

    Beautifully written article that is so pure & true of my thoughts! After much deliberation, discussion & thought we decided we would try for a second child. Our son has just turned 3. We just found out we are pregnant & since finding out the overwhelming feelings of anxiety that I felt after my first child have come flooding over me. I’m still on medication, but I’m so anxious about EVERYTHING ie. loosing the baby; I don’t feel I’m connected with this pregnancy (it’s only early days); how am I going to manage with 2 children?; my poor son will have to sacrifice so much; I don’t want my son to not feel loved enough by me paying attention to this new baby; will I love the baby like I do my son?; what if I don’t cope?; I feel guilty for needing help when it was my conscious decision to have children…I shouldn’t need help…I should be able to do this!; gosh we have just got our lives back why are we going through this again?!
    I would love to hear others thoughts if this is how you felt x

  9. Kayla Rauch

    I would love to hear more about your story. My PPD/A was the hardest days of my life and seemed to take a very long time to get over. I never in all my life thought I would ever have to consider having another child. There is no doubt in my mind I want more children. I just wonder if having a second child is the route we should go or if we should just adopt or foster. I would love to hear about your experience.

  10. Katie

    I never wanted kids, and finding myself pregnant with my (almost 2 year old) son was a surprise. Physically, I had a textbook perfect pregnancy and the majority of the time i was happy, but then I would be so upset and anxious and just weeping, feeling overwhelmed and unprepared almost like a switch had been flipped. I have a wonderful and loving husband, who I didn’t often tell about this. Delivery was exhausting but again, textbook smooth. But when we got home, i barely slept for weeks. I barely ate. I cried all if the time, and was convinced that either something terrible was going to happen to my sweet happy baby or that he didn’t love me and I was incompetent and should just give him to someone who was cut out to be a mom. And I lied about how I felt, out of overwhelming guilt. I lied to my husband (who was working 2 jobs so I could have 12 weeks maternity leave), i lied to my friends, I lied to my doctor. I told myself I just wasn’t good enough to be a mom, and if I told anyone they would ridicule me for failing. I struggled with this for almost the first year, and have only really been feeling like a worthwhile person again for the past 8 months. I know i should have, but i have never sought out help And now, the desire for another baby keeps nagging at the back of my mind. I love my little man more than anything…but i don’t know if I want to risk feeling that way again. I don’t think I’m strong enough to admit my shortcomings and ask for help. I’m sorry for this long sob story….i just had to get it off of my chest. I feel like I have no right to claim ppd, since i had no scary experiences like you did, no thoughts of death for me or my baby. Good luck with your family, may it always be happy.