Where's the Joy? When Maternal Instinct Goes Missing (online only)
By Lillian Carson
Q: My daughter and her husband were so excited about the
birth of their first child, but now that he’s here, she seems disinterested and
joyless. I thought that the maternal instinct was natural, but she doesn’t seem
to have it. We don’t understand why she isn’t happy.—Heartbroken Grandparents
A: Your daughter may be suffering
from postpartum depression (PPD), caused by hormonal changes during pregnan¬cy
and postpartum, which affect the brain’s neurotransmitters (brain chem¬icals).
Life stressors can also add to her depression (such things as mov¬ing, poor
partner support, financial problems or social isolation). Encour¬age her to
speak to her doctor as soon as possible about this, as there is help. Actress
Brooke Shields told me about her own despair after her daughter was born and
how she struggled with this hor¬rendous illness. Through the sup¬port of her
husband, family and friends, she sought the help of a therapist, began taking
antide¬pressants and happily recovered. She has bravely gone public in the hope
of helping others.
Your emotional and physical support will greatly encourage
your daughter’s recovery. Meanwhile, providing love and extra attention to your
grandson at this difficult time is needed for his well-being.
Where to go for help
• Postpartum Support International
• PSI helpline: 1-800- 944-4PPD
• MedEdPPD.org [http://www.mededppd.org/], a Web site
developed with the support of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to
provide education about postpartum depression (PPD).
• Resources for dads, partners and families:
postpartumdadsproject.org [http://postpartumdadsproject.org/] and
Lillian Carson, D.S.W., is a nationally recognized
grandparenting expert and the author of The Essential Grandparent: A Guide to
Making a Difference [http://www.essentialgrandparent.com]. This “Ask GRAND”
column appeared originally in the Dec. 2005/Jan. 2006 issue of GRAND, the
online magazine for grandparents. For information or to subscribe, go to