Brooke Shields takes postpartum depression message to Congress

In a Mothers Day appearance on This Week With George Stephanopoulos, actress Brooke Shields spoke out in support of ‘The Mothers Act,’ a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Friday which seeks to assist health-care providers in identifying and treating postpartum depression (PPD).

The legislation is similar to a bill already pending in the U.S. House of Representatives known as the ‘Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act.’ According to Brooke — who suffered from PPD after the 2003 birth of her first daughter Rowan and penned the best-selling memoir Down Came The Rain; My Journey Through Postpartum Depression — there is no better time for Congress to act than now.

We read about what happens when postpartum depression is untreated.  And we think ‘oh, those are just the extreme cases’…But the thing is, there is an entire population of women suffering and it’s so much more prevalent than anyone really wants to admit.  And its time, I believe, for Congress to step in and prevent that, and actually save lives and save potential tragedy.

In unedited video footage of the interview, Brooke spoke candidly about her own PPD experience after Rowan’s birth.

On what life was like before her diagnosis: I was not really aware that I had it. It was devastating to my whole family. I had gone through numerous attempts to have a baby and then I did finally have this beautiful, healthy perfect baby and it all but destroyed me. I couldn’t hold the baby, I couldn’t do anything for the baby, I couldn’t look at the baby. My knees would get weak and I would just cry all day long and I thought I’d made the worst mistake of my life … it all but flattened me.

Continue reading for more highlights of Brooke’s interview.

On why women hesitate to talk about their experiences with PPD: I think there’s a huge stigma surrounding postpartum depression. The stories we read about often result from postpartum psychosis…there’s a whole range between (postpartum depression) and postpartum psychosis, a range of how it affects and who it affects and why and the biological aspects of it.

But I think that in this society we are taught that being a mother and becoming a mother is the most glorious thing you could ever do, the most natural thing … and we are taught that the moment you have a baby your life becomes focused, you gaze down at your child and all is right in the world. And what happens … just the biological shifts in a woman’s body are mentally devastating, and there’s so many different things that happen, and so many changes, and we are taught that if you don’t do this beautifully then you are wrong. You are bad. You are not a good mother. You are not a good woman…Our culture and our society does not support defective mothering.

On the purposes The Mothers Act will serve: The Mothers Act is very straightforward, actually. It deals with the dissemination of information, pre-screening, early-screening…Research will be provided, treatments will be expanded. Women just need to be informed. The power of knowledge is extraordinary…Knowledge of postpartum depression is a tool that I believe all women deserve, and this bill represents that tool. It’s an easy gift to give to women everywhere.

In addition to Rowan, who turns 4-years-old this month, Brooke and husband Chris Henchy are proud parents to a 1-year-old daughter, Grier.

Sources: USA Today, This Week With George Stephanopoulos

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