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Gwyneth Paltrow: Chris Cracked the PPD Code

04/09/2010 at 05:00 PM ET
Courtesy Vogue UK

While the addition of a second child can be a challenge for any family, Gwyneth Paltrow‘s own experience became more difficult when she sunk into postpartum depression after the delivery of son Moses in 2006.

“At my lowest, I was a robot. I just didn’t feel anything,” she confesses in Vogue UK‘s May issue. “I had no maternal instincts for him — it was awful.”

And while she had “no thoughts of harming him,” Paltrow’s feelings toward her newborn baby boy weren’t those of a doting mother.

“I couldn’t connect, and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.”

In retrospect, Paltrow can clearly see that she ignored the signs of postpartum depression, simply going through the motions each day instead. “My problem was that I never acknowledged anything was wrong,” she says. “I didn’t put two and two together.”

Fortunately, husband Chris Martin did — and prompted his wife to seek the help she needed.

“That was such a relief when he did because it was confirmation that it wasn’t just me,” she recalls, adding that the Coldplay frontman’s intervention was “the beginning” of her road to recovery. “That was when I cracked it — I started exercising and I started thinking about working again.”

Having moved past the experience, Paltrow, 37, admits some aspects of life with an infant never seem to end. “Ever since I had kids, I am tired,” she states.

And while prioritizing her life — placing now 4-year-old Moses and daughter Apple, 5½, above everything else — has helped center her, she still struggles to strike a balance between her family and career.

“I know I take on too much. And if I’m not careful, it can tip over. I’m working on that now a lot.”

– Anya Leon

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Showing 16 comments

m-dot on

I love her honesty. Many women feel ashamed about feeling overwhelmed, uneasy, etc about motherhood…depression or not. I think the more it’s discussed openly, the great support women can be to each other. I love that Chris was in sync w his wife to recognize that she wasn’t herself.

Emily on

I appreciate her candor….I too went through PPD with my second son, and was exactly as she described, a robot. My husband too, was the one who urged me to seek help. I thought I was just tired, having a newly 2 year old son and a newborn, but I was not living, I was simply just existing. Actually, the first inkling I had that something wasn’t right was when Brooke Shields was making the talk show rounds promoting “Down Came The Rain”….The book came out when my son was a couple months old and I remember just crying as I heard her talk about what she went through because she could have been talking about me.

My son is now almost 5, but I still feel incredible guilt and sadness when I look at his baby pictures because I have no memory or recollection of them. He was almost 10 months old when I was finally starting to stabalize on medication. It really irks me when celebrities like Tom Cruise say PPD is not real, because I can from experience say that the only thing that kept me present and sane during my sons’ first year was medication and the support of my family.

I’m really not a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, but I appreicate her being so open about her struggles with PPD.

sharon on

goood for her to be honest about it! its always a difficult subject for sure

etsy on

I still feel disappointed that for me, new motherhood, was not entirely joyful either. I can hardly remember the days after my son was born. I was shocked at how ‘sad’ I felt that he’d finally arrived….a whole new set of worries. I thought it would pass after the early period of baby blues, but it was ongoing on and off for over a YEAR! Thank you for talking more about it!

lisa on

I think having 2 little ones close together also makes a difference…I dont even like to watch videos from that time in my life..we all get there and dont always see it

PPD2 on

What amazes me is how many mothers don’t talk about having PPD, or if not full blown PPD, certainly feeling totally overwhelmed after the birth of a child. I think I had a mild form of PPD after my daughter was born. I bonded without any problems with my daughter. But I cried and cried and cried for about a week after she was born. All the stuff that had bothered me and fears I held inside but I hadn’t addressed fully. Man, I just cried. Then for months afterwards, I could not leave my daughter for longer then 2 hours at a time, even when she was well taken care of because I wasnt convinced she was being taken care of right. I was definitely not entirely normal in the 7 to 8 months after her birth.

ma74 on

I’m glad that she’s talking about this.Good of Chris to have advised her to seek help

Tracy on

Thank you for featuring this on your website. I too went through PPD – for about 6 months before I got help. Its encouraging to hear that many people go through this & that I’m not the weird odd one out.

Mary on

I had a wonderful doctor when my second child was born, and he was the one who, when I went in for a checkup six weeks later, gently said, “You don’t seem like yourself, Mary? Would it help to talk about it?” I astonished myself by bursting into tears. I can look back on it 20 years later and see that he asked all the right “clinical” questions, but it is clear to me that I answered them from my heart because of his kindness and his deep concern for me. I feel for new mothers today because popular culture exerts such pressure to be a “perfect mother” from day one and is so unforgiving if a young woman fails to look like she hasn’t had a baby within a couple of months of giving birth–which is a sure-fire recipe for feeling overwhelmed even if you aren’t medically afflicted with PPD.

bo-peep on

i just love the bit where she says she has been tired since she became a mother!

my husband and i were talking about this just the other day… how it is almost 5 years since we weren’t exhausted! Both my kids slept through the night from about 3 months (but are early risers so 5:30 every day it is GO GO GO) so i have NO IDEA how mothers whose kids have real sleep challenges cope.

molly on

Thank Gwenyth for being honest! So many women have these types of feelings after having a baby. I too, had mild depression the first two-three months after having my son. We struggled for the first month with getting breastfeeding down and he was a month early and it was hard to not feel like I could really enjoy his arrival. The guilt and sadness beneath the fogginess was hard to shake. But once I realized what was happening, got support and became proactive for myself and baby things started to clear in my head and life became enjoyable again!
The more women are honest with each other and themselves regarding PPD, the faster we can conquer it and get past it to support one another as women and enjoy our families!
Thanks for your candor!

Nikki on

My Goodness…this is almost like as if I were reading my own life! I was so depressed I do not remember the first 4 months of my sons life.
It’s refreshing to see a story like the featured

Kristine on

Wow, I felt exactly the same way with my 3rd… I felt wonderful with baby #1, emotional and ‘sad’ with #2 although it wasn’t directed at him, and baby #3 I felt nothing.. I was so ashamed at how I felt I never talked about it to anyone. It took several months to start to develop a bond with my little guy, but I will never forget how awful I felt previously. Thanks for talking about this form of PPD so hopefully other moms won’t feel ashamed if they experience it.

Miranda Luchsinger on

I love when celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Brooke Shields talk about having PPD. It really brings them down to a level that a lot of women can relate to. I had PPD so bad when I had my son. I wasn’t depressed though. I began having terrible panic attacks and would just lose it when I thought about how fast time was going by. I never left my sons side for the first year and a half of his life. Still, 2 years since his birth I battle anxiety everyday but it is so much better than it was. Anyone who thinks they have PPD or is not themselves…talk to somebody. It really does make a difference.

Valerie on

This is a great example of how celebrities can use their fame to create awareness for the greater good!

Valerie on

This is a wonderful example of using celebrity for a good cause..just simply reading that an Oscar winning actress went throught perils of PPD is inspiring.

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