catholic homeschool mom with newborn

Recognizing and Understanding Perinatal Depression

Balancing Homeschooling, Motherhood, and Mental Health: Addressing Perinatal Depression

In the homeschooling world, we celebrate motherhood more than in the larger American culture, which is great. Still, sometimes, because we celebrate motherhood, we often gloss over the negative parts. This blog post is going to focus on one of those negative aspects: perinatal depression.

What is Perinatal Depression?

Perinatal depression is defined as depression during pregnancy or the postpartum period within one year of birth. One in seven women will experience postpartum depression (Mughal et al., 2022). Seventeen percent of women experience depression during pregnancy (antenatal), and 13% of women experience postpartum depression (Underwood et al., 2016). At first glance, those numbers don’t seem very large, but it is essential to know that approximately 50-70% of perinatal depression cases go untreated (Cox et al., 2016).  Many women who experience perinatal depression do not seek help.

The “Baby Blues” vs. Perinatal Depression

A large number of women experience the “baby blues” right after birth. Childbirth is a very stressful event for the body, and new babies require a lot of attention. Add in not getting enough sleep, stress, and significant hormone shifts, and you have the makings of a very challenging time. No matter how perfect your birth or your baby is, most women do experience some level of strong emotions and mood swings.

So when does having the typical baby blues switch to depression? From a diagnostic perspective, if you are still having a lot of negative emotions or anxiety after two weeks, you should consider seeking help. Also, if you are experiencing anxiety or negative emotions that are interfering with your ability to take care of yourself or your baby, you may want to seek help sooner.

Causes and Prevention of Perinatal Depression

Moms always want to know what causes perinatal depression and what they can do to prevent it. Perinatal depression has many causes, and it is often hard to tell what exactly caused it for most women. We know that perinatal depression has both biological and environmental causes. From the biological side, the giant shift in hormones following birth can trigger depression in some women. On the environmental side, the primary issue is stress. Moms who experience more stress during and after pregnancy are more likely to have perinatal depression.

Managing Stress During the Perinatal Period

From the biological side, there isn’t much we can do to prevent the hormone shift. Still, we can focus on the environmental side. There will be stress with a new baby, but we can focus on taking care of ourselves during those precious few weeks after birth. We need to ensure that we are taking time to rest and recover. I know this is hard as a homeschool mom. We often have many things on our plates, but rest and recovery are crucial to our physical and mental health. Do your best to make sure you are getting enough sleep and prioritize rest.

Finding Balance and Asking for Help

Stress isn’t always controllable, but we can control how we respond. Try to focus on what you are accomplishing versus what you aren’t – for example, if all you did was nurse the baby and take a shower – that’s great! Focus on the fact that your baby is happy and you are clean! You will return to your productive self; it may just take time. Did your big kids watch TV all day? That’s fine! It is your season of life – give yourself some grace! The joy of homeschooling is that we can have times when we aren’t as academically productive, and it is ok! Your children are learning a valuable lesson about family life and serving others during this time.

Remember, it is okay to ask for help. Your family, friends, and parish community often want to help but don’t know what to do—tell them. Maybe text your friends that you could use someone to come over and watch your kids for a couple of hours this afternoon so you can nap. What about asking if someone can take your son to youth group this week so you don’t have to take the baby out?

Supporting New Mothers in Your Community

This leads me to the next part: If you know someone who just had a baby, how can you help alleviate some of the stress? First, remember that most people don’t like asking for help but are more likely to accept it if you offer it. When offering help, don’t say, “Let me know if you need anything.” That is too vague and puts the burden on the person needing help. Instead, say, “I’m going to bring you a meal this week. Would Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday work best?” or “I’d like to watch your kids for a couple of hours this week so you can rest. Would it be more helpful if your big kids came to my house or if I came to yours so I could watch the baby too?”

I can promise you that the new mother will be extremely grateful. This happened to me when my husband and I had just moved across the country with our three children, our youngest three months old. We didn’t know anyone, and the second week we were at our new parish, an older lady approached us and offered to make us a meal. She explained that she and her sister tried to help care for the new mothers at the parish. I was embarrassed but graciously accepted, and I was glad I did. They didn’t just bring us a meal; they brought a couple of snacks and presents for my kids. It was amazing and just what I needed to help ease my stress and feel more welcome in the parish. What a beautiful example of the body of Christ in action!

Seeking Help is a Sign of Strength

Finally, I want to make clear that if you are a new mom and you’ve done everything to rest and keep your stress low but still are experiencing perinatal depression, it is ok. As I already mentioned, perinatal depression is complex and has multiple causes. Don’t feel guilty – speak up and seek help. There are a lot of different treatment options available today to help you cope with the depression and get back to feeling like yourself.


Perinatal depression is a significant issue that needs to be addressed openly and compassionately within our Catholic homeschooling community. Let’s support each other through such challenging periods. Together, we can ensure that both motherhood and homeschooling are joyful and fulfilling experiences.

Remember, taking care of your mental health is not just beneficial for you, but also for your family.

Would you like to connect with other Catholic homeschooling parents? To continue the discussion, join me and other homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group!

Works Cited

Mughal, S., Azhar, Y., Siddiqui, W. (2022). Postpartum Depression. StatPearls Publishing: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/

Underwood, L., Waldie, K., D’Souza, S., Peterson. E.R., Morton, S. (2016).  A review of longitudinal studies on antenatal and postnatal depression. Arch Womens Ment Health 19, 711–720: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27085795/

Cox, E. Q., Sowa, N. A., Meltzer-Brody, S.E., Gaynes, B.N. (2016) The perinatal depression treatment cascade: Baby steps toward improving outcomes. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry  77, 1189–1200: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27780317/


Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get updated every month on all the latest Homeschooling Saints podcast episodes and new blog posts

Ready to Get Started?

Homeschooling can seem daunting at first, but take it from us: The joy and freedom you gain from homeschooling far outweighs the challenges.

With flexible online classes, passionate instructors, and a supportive community at your back and cheering you on, there’s no limits to where your homeschooling journey can take your family! 

Sign up today!

Pin It on Pinterest