"It took me a long time to really be able to vocalize what I was going through," actress and mother of two Busy Philipps tells PEOPLE
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Busy Philipps
Busy Philipps
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Though her children are now 11 and 6½ years old, Busy Philipps is opening up about her postpartum experiences, including the anxiety she had after welcoming her older daughter, Birdie Leigh.

“I didn’t even know that was a thing,” Philipps, 40, recalls to PEOPLE of her postpartum anxiety. “I had heard only really terrible postpartum depression stories, like the ones that would make the news.”

“And that wasn’t my experience so I thought, well I guess this is just what being a new mom is like — being unable to go into the grocery store because you’re panicked and crying in your car,” adds the Cougar Town alum.

“It took me a long time to really be able to vocalize what I was going through and to get some help for it,” Philipps continues. “I’m glad that people have been more open about all kinds of postpartum issues.”

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Philipps, who has partnered with Poise, says “de-stigmatizing women’s health issues” is important to her, and that includes all kinds of postpartum body issues, such as urine leaks.

“This is an issue that a lot of people shy away from and don’t want to talk about and yet it affects one in three women, and that’s a lot of women,” says the Dawson’s Creek alum. “After I was a new mom with my second kid, I experienced this and I never really knew that that was a thing that happens.”

Philipps is mom to Birdie and Cricket Pearl, and says that though the two sisters are “fairly different” personality wise (Birdie is “pretty serious and very thoughtful,” while Cricket is “free and goofy”), they are “little buddies.”

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The author of This Will Only Hurt a Little adds to PEOPLE that the pair fall pretty squarely into their older and younger sibling roles, recalling one time when she asked Cricket if she would like a younger sibling, “She was like, ‘No, I’m the baby.’ Note taken.”

Philipps, who recently spoke in front of the Supreme Court to advocate for reproductive rights, says she hopes her own openness about women’s issues empowers her daughters.

“I hope that my girls live their lives in a way where they feel very empowered and free to be who they want to be in whatever way they want to be,” says the former Freaks and Geeks star. “I hope that they hold on to that.”