New Moms Can Get Depressed. Why Don’t Doctors Take Them Seriously?
Sushmita Pathak

There is a whole other dimension to what may or may not be happening with women’s mental or emotional states post-partum, and it has to do with the roles of fathers.

Two seismic shifts in the very concept of childbirth have occurred within my lifetime, and each one emerged as practically overnight norms, which each fly in the face of how things had been done before:

  • the legalization of abortion on demand, and the attendant migration of large numbers of ObGyn practitioners into careers of simultaneously both bringing new lives into the world, and terminating pregnancies. Same staffs with the same educations, same facilities in many cases, all answerable to the edict to “first do no harm” in an era when it has been decreed that pregnancy itself must represent that very harm, if a mother decides it is;
  • and the sudden and absolute social requirement (which no one still seems to know where it came from, or even wonder), that fathers be integrally involved not only in childbirth itself, but for the entire duration of pre- and post-natal care of both mothers and babies.

Whether anyone intended it or not, a large-scale and observable outcome of these two vast alterations in the behavior of massive numbers of people, has been the idea that pregnancy and childbirth, and by extension the entire gamut of physical realities that are motherhood, are essentially a form of victimization that men impose on women.

To be a father in this new setting is no longer a question of a man playing a uniquely male role as a parent and going about it according to the best of manhood he can bring to it; it is now entered into and undertaken with this over-arching sense that “you did this to her”, and that every aspect of his participation in these new norms is not for the sake of including him, but of collecting retribution from him. What would he know, after all, of what a woman goes through because he got her pregnant, other than what he can be compelled to witness for himself?

She could have, after all, not “gone through with it”, she could have “got rid of it.” There is, more often than not, plenty of messaging to suggest to her that she ought to do just that. But since she had that prerogative and chose not to exercise it, literally the power of life and death over a child, it is just the next logical progression that she be granted a de facto status not only as the child’s primary and ranking parent in perpetuity, but also that all matters pertaining to both parents be evaluated as if her rights are the rights of an owner of property, and his as not existing at all.

And meanwhile, this atmosphere that regards her as much as a victim as it sees her as a parent or spouse, or more so, lends itself to what is apparently already a natural emotion of new motherhood: that the father himself, may for a time represent the primary threat both to her interests and her child’s. While especially first-time mothers are undergoing changes within themselves and their way of seeing the world that no man will ever grasp, there are plenty of voices and messages aimed at her, in the spirit of him having “done this to her”, suggesting that having not now got rid of the child, it may become necessary, to get rid of that child’s father.

There is no shortage of medical personnel, who work in both clinical and social-work environments, or are adherent to the professional worldviews of both. Nurses and other practitioners who give pre-natal classes and assist in births, are absolutely likely to have also been involved either in abortion work, or domestic violence intervention, or both. With the near-absolute power such personnel are granted in the preparation phase of a pregnancy, it is not beyond reasonable to suppose that many such individuals see the training of new mothers, and fathers, as a means to minimizing any potential for a woman to become further victimized, having assumed coming in that she probably has been to begin with.

And they may not even realize they are doing it.

But in a setting where “this is not about you” is pretty much the philosophical foundation of what a father even is, there is plenty of opportunity to, and little standing in the way of, taking that man and that woman and sowing seeds of distrust and resentment and outwardly-imposed roles on the both of them. It is simply naive to conclude arbitrarily, or wishfully, that clinicians will turn away from the temptation to instruct, not just on the ways and means of mother and baby care, but also on the future composition of family life as a whole, if that man knows what is good for him.

So, enter post-partum depression. No man knows what it really is, nor what it does to a woman, what she may be feeling or experiencing. And few men will begin to grasp that, when she begins to treat him as not just a clueless nuisance but a clear and present danger, he has little recourse and even less of a voice or any kind of support from anyone around them, to assure her that he is not. And what had begun as his mandate to be attentive, gradually or suddenly transforms into the requirement of his obedience. And if he appears not obedient enough, not just to her but to her family, the clinicians and anyone else looking on with an opinion, it stands easily as further proof to all parties, that he is instead a risk.

And when mothers react to the feeling of danger from a father and either eject or abandon him in those early months and years of their child’s life, who in the world is going to stand up to her and say, “it’s just post-partum depression, dear…”?

Or, another way of putting it: “it’s all just hormones.”

Right. Like any mother who has been being told for months already that everything is about her (and her child-property) and nothing is about him, is going to take “just hormones” as an explanation for why this man is suddenly the biggest creep in the world and a little scary to her. Right.

Right. Like any clinician, in these times when both birth and the extermination of the unborn are oxymoronically both held out as “first doing no harm”, is going to tell her that? Right.

And you wonder why post-partum isn’t getting diagnosed properly?


That would be politically incorrect.

She is a victim, the child is her property, and the only place the blame needs to be placed on how becoming a mother feels to her, is on him.

And it happens day in and day out, around the world. And not seeing it, is not wanting to.