[Madison Moore | WOUB]

Mothers in the medical field bring postpartum depression to light in southeast Ohio

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Kailyn Browning suffered from postpartum depression after each of her five pregnancies. The first time around, she didn’t understand what was happening.  

Kailyn Browning holds her youngest daughter, Annaleigh, in a studio portrait.
Kailyn Browning and her youngest daughter, Annaleigh. [Photo by Megan Springer with MP by Megan Photography]
“My husband and I both knew that I was really not okay, but we didn’t know this is like a real illness that can be helped,” said Browning.  

After her second birth, she realized what was going on — but knowing wasn’t much comfort. 

Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition that affects parents following childbirth. It can last anywhere from several weeks to a few years. 

Parents experiencing postpartum depression may have persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety and exhaustion, and may have difficulty bonding with their newborn. They may also struggle to take care of themselves or their child. 

“Postpartum life is very intense, very, very intense,” said postpartum doula Kailyn Browning. 

Browning grew up in Coolville, Ohio and has spent the last seven years guiding parents through their postpartum journey.  

Certified postpartum doulas like her provide physical, practical and emotional support to families in the postpartum period on a case-by-case basis. This can include assistance with breastfeeding, newborn care and finding support systems. 

“Parents can really start to question themselves. There’s so much self-doubt that can crowd in,” said Browning.  

A mother of five, Browning went through her own postpartum battles, inspiring her to help other mothers in southeast Ohio.  

She said, “My own postpartum experiences really showed me how much here in our culture and America, there are huge gaps in what a mom or any parent going through this needs. We have a lot of lack of family support.”   

Browning said postpartum depression can easily go unnoticed. There’s so much emphasis on, ‘Oh, when can I come and see the baby? When can I come and see the baby?’ But the baby’s doing just fine,” she said.   

It is the parents that need attention. 

“They need meals, they need people to check in frequently on how they’re doing. They need people to come in and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to fold your laundry for you.’ That’s what parents really need, and we don’t see that enough,” Browning said.   

Despite growing awareness of postpartum depression, the issue is still stigmatized. 

Emily Latta, a certified nurse midwife at OPG Heritage College Obstetrics and Gynecology, said, “I think people are afraid to talk about it.”  

Latta, a mother of two who grew up in Athens, has been a nurse midwife for three years. She has become passionate about supporting parents with postpartum depression and reminds her patients that the condition is normal and common. 

“It isn’t discussed. And there’s a huge sense of embarrassment and shame around it. And I want people to feel okay saying they need help,” Latta said. 

Her passion stems from the fact that she herself went through a related condition known as postpartum anxiety. 

“Oftentimes, if there’s a strong family history of postpartum depression or mood disorders … it can be indicative of what your experience may be like, and I know I fell into that category. My mom suffered from postpartum anxiety when she was pregnant,” said Latta. 

According to Postpartum Support International, postpartum depression affects 15% of women in the United States. The rates are even higher among low-income parents.   

Latta said, “When your day-to-day life is surviving, your mental health is an afterthought. You’re worried about affording milk for your kids, let alone buying a prescription or putting gas in your car to go to a doctor.” 

In most deliveries, if a woman has an uncomplicated pregnancy, the doctor won’t see them again until six weeks after birth. However, that is not the case at OPG Heritage College Obstetrics and Gynecology.  

“Our office standard is to see people at least three weeks postpartum, mostly to check on moods. Six weeks is a heck of a long time to struggle,” said Latta.   

Her office gives a postpartum screening questionnaire called EPDS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), which identifies depression and anxiety at the patient’s first obstetrics appointment and first three-week postpartum check-up.   

If her patients score high on the scale, she works with them to come up with a game plan for treatment.   

“Is it medicine, is it therapy or do you simply need to have a talk with your partner and your family to say I need more help,” said Latta.   

OhioHealth community health workers, who are grant-funded by the March of Dimes, are also in the office to help patients. They can assist with scheduling appointments and any other needs. 

For those affected by postpartum depression, organizations like Postpartum Support International are available to provide support and link families with local resources.  

Kailyn Browning’s Birthsource website offers a platform for connecting with her