Dear Mama: What If It Isn’t Depression?

You’ve come through the infamous “fourth trimester.” Your baby is smiling and cooing, possibly sleeping regular intervals, and has probably taken over your social media feed. You’ve started to find your “new normal” and are incorporating your favorite friends and activities into your new baby-filled life–at least, you would–

Except that you can’t get yourself to want to.

As owner of a birth support company for nearly 9 years, I have worked with a lot of postpartum mothers who feel depressed. Now that I have moved into therapy and sat with women who are long past that fourth trimester (and often go years into parenthood before talking to me), I have come to witness something very important. Something I was unable to identify as a doula, and also unable recognize in myself when I was the new mother.

You are lonely.

The reason loneliness is so difficult to identify is that you are never actually alone. In fact, if anyone were to ask what you might wish for the most on a daily basis, it would likely just be time to yourself for a bath, or a chance to go for a run, or take a nap.

Of course, there are the community groups and Bible studies that you join, hoping to have adult conversation. But with those come  changed nap schedules, required contributions to the snack table, and the unfair comparisons that you tend to draw between yourself (and your children) and the other mothers who attend. You sometimes leave feeling sad and more alone than ever, not because you are depressed–but because you are lonely.

It’s not just you.

You are not the only one who feels this way.

While loneliness is not exactly a positive emotion, simply calling it by the right word is very empowering. It is not depression; it is merely a need to connect with the right people in the right way. 

Deciding what you need to solve loneliness is a much simpler question, with far fewer implications about you, than you may think. Take a few minutes to think about what it would really look like for your to find your tribe. (Snack-free events? Physical activity? Comparison-free zones?) It might be as simple as finding a walking buddy.

Whatever you decide would work for you, know that it is worth it to keep searching until you find your fit.



Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner and  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the owner of Eden’s Promise, LLC and the founder of the Adopt-A-Mom Project. She authored Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and is the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. To learn more about Jennifer, go to