Britney Spears' perinatal depression isn't the same as postpartum depression
There were a lot of things that were somewhat confusing about Britney Spears' recent Instagram post that shared (we think??) the news that she's pregnant. But there was something very clear in an otherwise murky caption: Britney said she had perinatal depression with her previous pregnancy/pregnancies. She wrote:
"It’s hard because when I was pregnant I had perinatal depression … I have to say it is absolutely horrible 😔 … women didn’t talk about it back then … some people considered it dangerous if a woman complained like that with a baby inside her … but now women talk about it everyday … thank Jesus we don’t have to keep that pain a reserved proper secret 🤫 😬😬😬 … This time I will be doing yoga 🧘♀️ every day !!!"
I was happy to see Britney say "perinatal depression" because it's not a phrase we hear a lot (am I right, fellow moms?). We hear about postpartum depression, but perinatal? Hardly never. And the fact that Britney's bringing it up is a good reminder to talk about it more.
So, what is perinatal depression? Here's how the NIH defines it (emphasis, mine):
"Perinatal depression is a mood disorder that can affect women DURING pregnancy AND after childbirth. The word “perinatal” refers to the time before and after the birth of a child. Perinatal depression includes depression that BEGINS DURING PREGNANCY (called prenatal depression) and depression that begins after the baby is born (called postpartum depression). Mothers with perinatal depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and fatigue that may make it difficult for them to carry out daily tasks, including caring for themselves or others."
It's not a coincidence that Britney says she'll be doing yoga this pregnancy ... the Journal of American Medical Association recommends yoga as a treatment for perinatal depression, but says that counseling is the most effective course of action.
Anyone who's been through pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum months knows what a mind f*ck it can be, let alone what mental challenges come along with being in the spotlight during that time.
And anyone who's watched Britney over the last 20 years -- from pop icon on top of the world to a prisoner of a conservatorship -- knows how important her (as anyone's would be) mental health is.
The mind/body connection is amazing -- for better and for worse. Perinatal depression can absolutely have an affect on the fetus and infant. Premature birth, low birth weight, and cognitive issues have all been reported.
All moms, from pregnancy to child-rearing, need help and I'm proud of Britney for bringing perinatal depression into the conversation. She made us all experts on conservatorship law, and now she's going to help a lot of people understand that a mother's mental health DURING pregnancy is just as important as postpartum.
Sending all the love to her, and to all the pregnant moms out there who might feel depressed, lost, foggy, etc., but didn't have a phrase for it, until maybe now. ❤️❤️❤️