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Mom seeks help for PPD and gets treated like a criminal

Mom seeks help for PPD and gets treated like a criminal


Laura Falin

posted in Parenting

Last week, Jessica Porten went to her first OB appointment since having her baby (4 long months after having her baby because her office kept rescheduling.) She told her nurse practitioner that she had postpartum depression and fits of anger, and she wanted to talk about medication. She stressed that she had a good support system at home and that she and her baby were not in danger, but she wanted some resources to cope.

And then they called the cops on her.

You can read her entire account on her Facebook page here:

The entire ordeal is chilling to read. It’s chilling to imagine being alone at a doctor’s office with your baby and being sent without warning (and with a police escort) to the ER. It’s chilling to imagine the long wait in the ER (with a baby you didn’t plan on having out that late). It’s chilling to know that, after her entire afternoon and evening there, she is given only the following and sent home:

“The social worker hands me some papers and discusses the information in them, telling me she thinks these “will probably be good resources for you.”

I leave the ER at midnight, my spirit more broken than ever, no medication, no follow up appointment, never spoke to a doctor. This was a 10 hour ordeal that I had to go through all while caring for my infant that I had with me. And that’s it. That’s what I got for telling my OB that I have PPD and I need help. I was treated like a criminal and then discharged with nothing but a stack of xeroxed printouts with phone numbers on them.”

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember talking to a friend who faced PPD without getting professional help. She told me she would drive down the road and consider crossing into oncoming traffic. She talked to friends, she told her husband and her parents, but she never ever told her doctor because “they’ll take my kids away.” Her family made their own pact not to leave her alone with her children, and I thank God she made it through, but I know not everyone does. And I know there are countless mothers who are not honest with their care providers for the same reason.

postpartum depression

I worry that even if people seek the help they need, they won’t get it. I admire Jessica for using this experience to spur people to action. At the end of her post, she says:

“I want to say, I will not be taking any legal action with this. I want this to spread far and wide so that awareness can be made. And then I want to fix this broken system. Because the fact of the matter is, even if I was mentally unstable, suicidal, and unfit to parent (which I am not), the way the situation was handled is not helpful to people.”

She also says, ” I may be marginalized as a woman, but I am white and heterosexual and hold privileges in these places. I am scared for our mothers of color and our LGBTQ mothers who seek out help in these situations.”

I hope this can change. We can do better.

You can find some BabyCenter resources on postpartum depression here.

Will you share your experience if you have sought help for postpartum depression? Was it like this or was it a positive one?

Images by iStock

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