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Episode 098. Postpartum Depression: Resources, Empowerment, & Transformation with Dr. Walker Ladd

Episode 098

Nothing in this episode is medical advice, but it is an honest conversation that is needed in the postpartum and birth space.

What would happen if we found our brains as fascinating as our bodies during the transformation that is pregnancy and birth? Today’s guest, Dr. Walker Ladd poses that question and so many other thoughtful observations and perspectives about Postpartum Depression—thoughts that empower and resource women, providers, and anyone who supports mothers.

Walker’s book Transformed by Postpartum Depression took me over a month to read. Not because I didn’t want to, not because it’s a stigmatized topic, or too taboo, but because it IS such an important subject—to me personally, to friends and family, to every birthing mother, and every birth support person out there. Right now it’s considered a heavy topic—but one that needs to be brought into the light.

We can handle this information. We are strong and capable. Learning about postpartum depression is important, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Walker encourages us in this conversation and reminds us that we can handle it.

Dr. Walker Ladd’s Bio: Dr. Walker Ladd has been a recognized thought leader in the field of maternal mental health for nearly two decades. Her writing and research challenge current paradigms of motherhood and mental illness, using women’s stories to reveal the hidden truths and extraordinary dimensions of the lived experience of motherhood. Her personal experiences with traumatic childbirth, breast cancer, postpartum depression, and major depressive disorder drive her passion for her bold, transformative and soulful work.

In this episode, Walker & I talk about:

  • Being brave and talking about postpartum depression
  • Her book: Transformed by Postpartum Depression
  • How this book broke something open in me
  • Reading about hard topics as an empath
  • How generations influence postpartum depression
  • Empowering ourselves
  • Well intended interventions
  • Stigmas around postpartum depression
  • Well meaning intentions around postpartum depression
  • Designing our births
  • Postpartum Depression is real
  • The strength and grit of women who experience Postpartum Depression
  • How different each mother’s experiences are
  • Walker’s doula training
  • Finding our tribe
  • Walker’s path of breast cancer
  • We’re not taught what to say to one another about tough topics
  • The pain of people scattering when hard news comes their way
  • Finding solutions that women can implement tomorrow
  • Parinatal mood disorders
  • Stigmas around postpartum depression
  • Fear of losing our babies…women are afraid that their babies will be taken if they speak up—that moms will be seen as unfit or unsound and incapable of caring for their children so they just don’t speak up
  • We need more than just clearance to have sex at our 6 week postpartum appointments
  • Changing the stigma around getting help for postpartum depression
  • Getting to a point where you’ll do anything to live and keep going
  • The failure of providers, even after they spoke up to providers
  • Why don’t we find our brains as fascinating as our bodies
  • Moms are strong and capable
  • An education of the brain and the heart
  • How we have increased awareness about postpartum depression that “increased awareness” isn’t doing anything
  • We can handle hearing that other people struggle
  • Stages of Postpartum Depression: before, during, after, transformation
  • Being unprepared for postpartum depression
  • We belong
  • Symptoms of Postpartum Depression: not sleeping, not eating, in physical pain, physical lethargy, physical agitation
  • Anxiety and depression—two sides of the same coin
  • When moms with postpartum depression realize they no longer want to be alive and feel they don’t belong because they are moms who have those feelings
  • Going through the gauntlet of trying to find help
  • Treating the symptoms of postpartum depression
  • The perspectives of postpartum depression from mothers and professionals
  • How it was listening to the stories
  • Birth trauma
  • Listening deeply with full presence
  • Anger is only helpful if it leads to understanding about what you can do
  • Jane – found of PSI (Postpartum Support International)
  • Honesty is disarming
  • Big T and little t trauma
  • Trauma is in the eye of the beholder
  • Making sleep a priority
  • Stepping away from societal messages about what motherhood is “supposed” to look like
  • What worked and what didn’t
  • Feeling like the world was underestimating my transition
  • How leaning into the tandem nursing groups helped me the most
  • The deep need to be around other mothers who understand
  • Underestimating how powerful we are as women and moms
  • Placenta encapsulation—it doesn’t really matter if you’re for or against it
  • Attachment theory and maternal deprivation
  • Making room for moms to make the best decisions for their families
  • Dropping the “vs.” culture
  • Giving each other permission to do what is best for us as individuals
  • The biggest fear we all have: the bad mother
  • We’re not given permission to not like motherhood…
  • It’s like we can’t say we like motherhood and we can’t say that we don’t like it either
  • Changing the language of postpartum depression is effective if it helps women get treatment
  • Peripartum depression
  • Major depressive disorder
  • The REAL changes that need to happen
  • Looking at women’s reproduction from a medical model
  • The dismissal of women and their needs by all providers
  • The awe of birth and it’s transformative powers
  • “Meeting an infant is like shaking hands with God”
  • In order to heal our birth culture, we have to heal our death culture…and heal the in-between culture
  • When we do (& don’t) have access to reproductive health
  • Who do we talk with when we need help with postpartum depression?
  • We need to inform ourselves
  • Suicidal moms
  • Own being a consumer…we’ve got better yelp reviews than we do pregnancy and birth information
  • Becoming research literate
  • Feeling unprepared when experiencing postpartum depression
  • How we can prepare for postpartum depression
  • How much of postpartum depression preparedness is the community and how much is it the individual
  • If you have a family history of postpartum depression, you’re at increased risk
  • If you have any personal history of depression or anxiety, you’re at an increased risk
  • 1 in 4 adults will have an episode of a mood disorder in their lifetime
  • Community tends to be stigma based
  • Alternative perspective: don’t tell people if you feel you’ll be judged if you feel people aren’t safe to share with
  • Using your own discernment
  • Start a conversation about postpartum depression
  • Start a book club about postpartum depression and Walker’s book
  • How this book helped me identify and heal and understand my own birth traumas…over 7 years later
  • #instagrambreak
  • Stop making women feel like they don’t belong at their own birth
  • Big thanks to all the moms who shared their stories with Walker who shared them with us
  • Walker’s new study on anxiety disorder

Dr. Walker Ladd’s Links: Website and Instagram

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Ojai Energetics: We don’t shy away from topics here on Elevating Motherhood. Mostly because I believe it’s time we break through myths and assumptions with real conversations, resources, and perspective. Like we are today with Dr. Walker Ladd…and like we did in episode 15, Intro to CBD when I interviewed Will Kleidon the CEO of Ojai Energetics, a B corp that produces high quality, organic, water soluble CBD. So many moms wanted to know more about CBD, so I went straight to a credible source. Ojai Energetics has extended a special offer for Elevating Motherhood listeners—free shipping on every order, plus a free tube of CBD sports gel if you order 3 bottles or more. Head to for more info on CBD, links to the episode 15, and the special offer from Ojai Energetics. That’s

MUTU System: Thanks to MUTU System for supporting today’s episode of Elevating Motherhood. MUTU is a medically recommended, online exercise program that is designed to support mothers postpartum. And it’s not just for moms who have new babies. I started using MUTU 2.5 years after my third baby was born. My hip issues and unresolved diastasis recti were continuing to get in the way of my exercise attempts and everyday comfort level. I decided to do something about it and MUTU was the support I was looking for. I started to experience relief after just a week of using the program. I highly recommend it as a way to boost your strength and confidence! It’s gentle, do-able, effective—and you can use it at home. Buy it once and it’s yours for life. There’s more information over at And you can hear more from the founder and CEO Wendy Powell in Episode 41. Go check it out!


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