My Decision to Have More Kids after Surviving Postpartum Depression

Nov 10 / Jill Bertelsen
Tiffany Josephine Bertelsen joined our family last week on October 18, 2019. She is extremely cute and having newborn snuggles are always a coveted thing in our household. But deciding to have and when to have a second baby was not a decision that was easy. Having postpartum depression with my first made me fearful that it would happen again. In this blog I want to walk you through some things to consider when deciding when to have another child.

Having another baby in the home is a decision that involves thinking if you can handle it physically, emotionally, and financially. Someone who doesn’t have a mental illness would have a hard time deciding, let alone someone who has suffered from postpartum depression. It can also be a decision that make couples get scared about if there was some complications with the earlier child. “What if…” or wondering if you or your spouse are going to get postpartum depression again. These are things that can and should be talked about when deciding to have more children.

One consideration would be to assess your intention for having another child. Is it to expand your family? Or because you want another child to love? Or you want your child to have a sibling to enjoy? These are all great reasons to have another child. But you don’t want to have another child for the wrong reasons. For example thoughts like “this time I will get it right with breastfeeding” or “it will fix our family problems if we have another child to focus on” or “this time I will conquer having postpartum depression” can be dangerous. It makes it sound like you did it wrong with your first child and that you weren’t a good parent. But in reality there isn’t a wrong way, you were great with your first and need to let go of those feelings of doing it right next time. It’s important to have the right intentions for having another child because when things that you can’t control, like having postpartum depression again, or your baby not latching, you will feel like you have failed again and could deepen your feelings of hopelessness.   

A big part of our decision to have a baby was the risk of getting postpartum depression again. I felt like I had just gotten better and more stable and was really worried about the “what if I get postpartum depression again?” Dr. Shoshana S. Bennett in her book Postpartum Depression for Dummies talks about having a postpartum plan. Talking it over with your partner and writing down the plan by the third trimester. Some things to include in the plan are the following:

  •     A list of your concerns and fears of you and your partner.
  •     A list of professionals who can help.
  •     A list of warning behaviors that indicated that postpartum depression has hit you again and isn’t under control.
  •     Review of what worked and what didn’t in the previous struggles with postpartum depression.
  •     List of support people and activities.

Ultimately it is you and your partner’s decision. It is good to enlist opinions from trusted family members, ecclesiastical leaders, medical professionals, and/or friends. But asking too many people of what you “should do” can be harmful if they have an opinion that doesn’t match up with what you are thinking, you may start to doubt yourself. Validation for making the right decision of if and when to have another child can only be found from yourself.

Once we got pregnant with our second child we worried about how our toddler, Ross, would cope with having a baby to share the attention with. We also worried about the lack of sleep we would have and the potential of me getting postpartum depression again. But I have found that the feeling of being worried about an outcome is not the same as the feeling of making the wrong decision. If you are ready to have another child, there will be worries that arise, but that does not mean your decision is wrong. Don’t doubt yourself or your partner.

It’s just been over a week with our little girl but I am glad we decided to grow our little family. People would hint that it was too early or not to have a baby while my husband is in graduate school, but ultimately we are happy with our decision. We wouldn’t want it any other way! Keep in mind that it can be scary to have another child, you may not be ready or decide not to have more children. All of these are good decisions, but if you are wanting to have more, I hope this blog has helped you think about things to consider as you are preparing for your second one.