When you're pregnant with your first child, there's so much you can't possibly know, no matter how many books you've read, or how many of your mom friends you've grilled for details. That's especially true for women who have suffered from postpartum depression (PPD), though — after all, few of us expect to feel anything but love for our babies in their first weeks and months as new mothers, and even when you've recovered, getting pregnant again is often a surefire way to trigger anxiety about what it might be like the second time around. In a recent interview, Chrissy Teigen said she worries about experiencing postpartum depression again with her soon-to-be-born son, according to People, and honestly, her fears sound totally understandable. But, like many second-time moms, it also sounds like Teigen has a lot of strength and wisdom to draw on now that she didn't before, and it's an important reminder for anyone who has experienced PPD in the past.
Until she opened up about her battle with postpartum depression in an essay for Glamour in March 2017, it was easy to assume that Teigen's life as a new mom was totally picture-perfect. In the brave piece, Teigen discussed her struggle and recovery, and on Saturday, Teigen opened up once again, discussing some of her second-pregnancy anxieties in a chat with hairstylist Jen Atkin at the Create & Cultivate conference in Los Angeles. The one major difference this time, according to Teigen? The model mama said that if she does experience PPD again, she'll be "so ready for it."
Although no mom ever hopes to suffer from PPD a second time (once is more than enough, thank you very much!), Teigen told Atkin that, this time at least, she's learned enough from her experience that she can be as prepared for it as possible — which, for her, primarily involves having "a real core group of people" around her whom she can trust and rely on to help her when she might not be able to help herself. Reflecting back on her experience with her daughter, Luna, Teigen said,
In retrospect though, Teigen said she wishes that "more people had spoken up" when they saw her struggling, and that she "[encourages] anyone who sees something around them to point it out." But now that she's gone through it and emerged on the other side, Teigen also has the benefit of knowing what it felt like, which will hopefully help her recognize it if it were to happen again.
That's a really important message for anyone who has struggled with PPD — or any kind of mental health issue, really — because while it's absolutely natural to worry that there may not be a guaranteed way to prevent it from ever recurring, it doesn't mean you're entirely helpless if it does, or that the same degree of suffering is inevitable. After all, when you've been through it once, you're better able to notice the symptoms you may not have seen originally (feeling like you aren't bonding with your baby, crying a lot, feeling totally drained or like you are withdrawing from those around you, for example, according to the Mayo Clinic), and it will also mean you'll be able to reach out for help more quickly, and likely with less hesitation.
Of course, PPD after a second pregnancy is not at all inevitable: according to Sarah Best, staff psychotherapist at the Seleni Institute, it's true that, statistically, women are most likely to experience PPD after the birth of their first child, and if you've had PPD, you're more likely to develop it again than someone who hasn't (according to Health.com, women who've had postpartum depression may have around a 50 percent chance of getting it again). But individual risk factors are influenced by all sorts of things, and knowing those risk factors can help moms prepare themselves in advance of subsequent births. For one, Best recommends PPD survivors "brainstorm practical strategies" that may help lessen the effect of certain things that may have made things more difficult the first time around, like figuring out a plan to ensure new moms are able to get out of the house and connect with others instead of staying isolated and alone.
Another really valuable suggestion for women pregnant again after PPD, though, is building up a postpartum support network in advance. From the sounds of it, that's exactly what Teigen has already done, and it's a strategy that Best also recommends. Talking to your partner, your doctor, close friends, or anyone else you trust to help you through your postpartum period before the baby arrives can give them a chance to help if things start to go awry. One way to go about it, according to Best, is to "discuss the early signs that things were getting bad, and let them know how they should intervene if they're concerned."
Ultimately though, even the most prepared, well-intentioned, and self-aware pregnant woman can still experience PPD with her second child, and if that happens, it's certainly not her fault, or a sign she didn't try hard enough. And it's also definitely not uncommon: according to the Centers for Disease Control, postpartum depression affects around 1 in 9 women in the United States. But Teigen's honest admission about her PPD fears are a helpful reminder that PPD survivors have invaluable knowledge and skills in their subsequent pregnancies that they likely didn't have before. And while that may not guarantee that life after delivery will be 100 percent blissful, it will hopefully at least be a reminder that they can absolutely make it through, and that they don't have to suffer in silence.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.