(Ep. 27) Transformed by Postpartum Depression with Dr. Walker Ladd

My guest for this episode of Beyond Postpartum is Dr. Walker Ladd, Ph.D., who has just released the 2nd edition of her book Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth, which is based on her groundbreaking research about how untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) impact new parents and families in deep and significant ways. In addition to being a researcher and an author, Dr. Ladd is also a mom of two and a full-time faculty member at Saybrook University, among, of course, many other things. Her own lived experience with birth trauma, postpartum depression, breast cancer, and major depressive disorder has deeply informed her work.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Why she decided to release a 2nd edition of her book Transformed by Postpartum Depression and the choice to include her own story in the new edition
  • Her very difficult first birth that resulted in PTSD and then led to postpartum depression
  • How a long period of lack of sleep – and feeling like it would never get better – led to her being actively suicidal
  • Fighting for treatment and finally getting the care she needed
  • Having a very different experience after the birth of her 2nd baby
  • The importance of having a supportive care team
  • The deep pain of experiencing PMADs and how this coexists with deep love for our babies
  • How it’s untreated that PMADs that leaves the deep wounds – and that it is a treatable illness
  • The importance and power of language
  • Impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on perinatal mental health
  • How people suffering with PMADs are put in the position of advocating for themselves when they are acutely ill and suffering
  • Using the language of trauma around the experience of untreated PMADs
  • The three elements of a traumatic experience
  • The continuum of suicidal ideation and how it presents
  • Sharing her birth and postpartum story with her oldest child
  • Giving our children the gift of us being full, complex, and emotional human beings, and doing work on ourselves
  • Harmful narratives of motherhood that we internalize, and how a lot of them are social constructs and not based in any evidence