Shay Mitchell recently visited a very pregnant Ashley Graham on Graham’s YouTube series, Pretty Big Deal, to discuss the powerful emotions both of them struggled with in the very beginnings of their pregnancies. Their conversation sparked an interesting debate: Is there such a thing as “pre-partum depression”?
Mitchell gave birth to her daughter, Atlas, three months ago. She shares Atlas with her partner Matte Babel.
“I think that you said the term ‘pre-partum depression.’ I want to talk about this because I can’t say definitively that I went through it, but I can say that I feel like I might have gone through something like it,” Graham kicked off the discussion. “Because here I am, I’m pregnant — it’s not that I was trying to get pregnant, or I wasn’t trying, but it just happened, so it was a surprise — but then all of a sudden… my emotions, my mind, my body, things that I always had control over, are now totally out of whack. I can’t talk to anybody about it. My husband doesn’t understand… my mom is like, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine.'”
A knowing Mitchell responded resignedly, “Yep.”
“Every single thing that you just said is exactly what I went through,” Shay said. “My mom said the same thing, and I’d be crying to her and she’s like, ‘You’re just emotional, it’s just the hormones.’ And OK, cool, it might be, but you don’t want to hear that. Like, yes, OK, if it is the hormones, I’m still feeling that way, it doesn’t take away from this feeling. And it’s completely isolating.”
Mitchell confided in Graham that the miscarriage she experienced in 2018 also made her withdraw during her pregnancy with Atlas.
“It was just really lonely. Matte also was traveling a bunch, [I wasn’t] feeling as secure about [my] body, because there was no bump — and that’s the thing, you don’t feel sexy, you don’t have that beautiful bump,” Mitchell said. “It’s a really crazy period that I don’t think people talk about enough. I heard so much about postpartum, which is also a real thing, but I had never heard of pre-partum depression.”
In fact, the pre-partum depression was so intense, Mitchell said, it affected her ability to function.
“I personally haven’t ever experienced anything like this, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed,” Mitchell told Graham. “I was also having a lot of guilt because I felt so fortunate to be able to be pregnant. I was like, ‘OK, I shouldn’t be feeling like this, there’s so many people that would love to be in this position.’ And then, ‘How can I not want this right now?…Is this what I want? Oh my god, is my whole life gonna change? It’s never going to go back, now I’m gonna be a mom, is this going to impact my career?'”
Mitchell revealed to Graham that the prenatal depression contributed to her decision to create her YouTube series, Almost Ready, which documented her relationship with Babel and her pregnancy and labor.
“There are so many of us on this journey,” Mitchell said, “and it’s all so individual with our experiences, but at the same time, there’s a lot of common feelings that we feel throughout this process that aren’t spoken about enough.” (Aaaand a healthy amount of mom-shaming, too.)
We applaud both Mitchell and Graham for shining a light on the isolation common in early pregnancy — and using their platforms to create better awareness.