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Giving birth and becoming a mother is a huge deal. Childbirth can be hell, and no matter how smoothly it goes or how prepared the woman thought she was after nine months she suddenly has a living, breathing baby in her arms who's going to be depending on her for everything. That's a lot to get used to, and some mothers simply can't cope. They become depressed, feel unable to bond with the child, completely unready for this major change.
Unfortunately, postpartum depression is one of the most misunderstood afflictions endured by women-especially by the media. When portrayed incorrectly, which is a lot of the time, the mother is portrayed as a whining, weeping basket case who hates her baby and everyone else around her. In the worst cases, she may even try to kill the baby in a fit of despair.
When it is portrayed correctly, no one takes it seriously and thinks the new mother's just having a mood swing or being silly. The old days were especially bad about this in fiction and reality both, forcing "the rest cure" upon new mothers. This included being force-fed fatty dairy products, kept in bed, and isolated from everyone including the baby.
Due to PPD being misunderstood in real life, such portrayals can lead to problems when a woman suffers from it. Some fathers who are exposed to the "mother wants to kill the baby" portrayals may try to isolate the mother from the infant, worsening the issue.
If the mother gets over her affliction, expect it to happen at the drop of a hat, whether it's the sudden realization of love for the tiny human she gave life to, a hug and a kiss from her perfect understanding husband, a huge crisis forces her to realize she loves her child, or she gets prescribed medicine and then it's hardly mentioned again, if at all.
- Two commercials circulated in the late 90s/early 2000s, one with a woman telling her friend how depressed and listless she's been since giving birth, and another with the father telling the doctor how much his wife's been struggling. Both parties are gently shushed, as though they were babbling pure nonsense, and reluctantly say everything's just fine. The tag line then says there is help available for postpartum depression and that no one should have to suffer in silence.
- Anthony's ex-wife Therese had postpartum depression in all but name in For Better or For Worse, not helped by the fact that Anthony forced her to have a baby by promising he'd do his share of the parenting...and then breaking that promise. Everyone had just assumed Therese would "get over" not wanting to be a mother the moment she popped out the baby. Anthony ends up divorcing her and taking their daughter with him, and poor Therese is demonized up until her very last mention.
- One Fire Emblem Fates fic has Selena suffering "the baby blues" after giving birth to Caeldori, leaving Subaki to basically be super-dad while she feels nothing for her daughter but contempt. Taken to melodramatic levels when she shakes Caeldori for crying too much and runs away in tears after realizing what she's becoming. It's implied she'll get over it quickly after Sakura diagnoses her and Subaki reassures her he still loves her.
- One series of Shiro/Pidge fics in Voltron: Legendary Defender saddles Pidge with this after she's already struggled with an unplanned pregnancy and premature labor. The follow-up fics portray Shiro as super-dad who's a natural while Pidge has PPD to the point where the police accidentally get involved because she's supposedly such a failure as a mother.
- Pidge gets it in some Kidge fics, too. In at least one she melts into a puddle of tears over not being able to magically bond with her and Keith's new baby, while Keith just exists to be superdad and Pidge's comfort dispenser.
- Yui Hongo suffers from this in a fic where she re-enters the book, gets raped for real, and ends up pregnant by her rapist. She considers an abortion potion until she realizes she can't do such a terrible thing, has the baby, and is understandably not prepared for the harsh realities of motherhood. She not only ignores the baby's cries, but freaks out and starts shaking her, much to the horror of her nursemaid. Yui flees the palace only to end up cured after holding a stranger's baby, and when she returns she's instantly a perfect mother who would die for her precious little girl.
- A Dorothea/Ferdinand fic in Fire Emblem: Three Houses fandom has Dorothea suffer postpartum depression after giving birth to Ferdinand's child while he's off at war and she's forced to stay behind due to her unplanned pregnancy.
- Darcy's case of PPD in For Keeps is portrayed surprisingly realistically, with her simply being disinterested in life and her baby in general. She snaps out of it when she thinks an intruder's coming, and rushes to protect her daughter.
- A double-sided case happens in the movie An Unexpected Life. Barbara's newborn daughter rejects her outright, crying whenever her mother comes near her, and it's all but stated that she senses Barbara's ambivalent feelings towards her (she wasn't even sure she wanted the baby in the first place).
- The Yellow Wallpaper is the most famous example of this, with the narrator forced on the "rest cure" and forbidden from writing, talking to people, or even seeing her child! The poor thing ends up going completely mad.
- In Catherine Anderson's Perfect Timing, it's revealed that an ancient curse led every first wife of a Harrigan male to die from blood-related causes, and that one of these women suffered from postpartum depression so badly she committed suicide by slitting her wrists. Frank explains to his son Quincy that this was during a time when PPD wasn't taken seriously or even discussed, so women were forced to suffer in silence.
- One of Harold's patients in the final season of Everwood suffers from mental illness, and when her husband dies shortly before she gives birth she's unable to handle motherhood and drops the infant off on the Abbots' doorstep. This ends up being a blessing in disguise for Rose and Harold, who'd wanted to adopt but were denied due to Harold lying about Rose's breast cancer on the application.
- It's been suggested in fan circles that this may have been the case with Tharja in Fire Emblem Awakening. While everything but Noire's father supports state that she only started experimenting on the girl after losing her husband, Tharja and Noire's set implies that the former wasn't exactly mother of the year before then, either. Tharja's shown slowly overcoming it by realizing that even if she can't defend her other self, she does love Noire and wants to do better by her.
- One segment of this rant by Mr. Enter discusses this trope and how harmful it is when it convinces real people that mothers with PPD are psychos who might try to kill their babies.
- Played for horror and tragedy with Honerva in Voltron: Legendary Defender. She was already suffering quintessence poisoning while she was pregnant with Lotor, then her labor and delivery were so traumatic she lost her memory. Since she didn't remember wanting a child, she totally ignored Lotor and had him raised by his governess. By the time she remembers her pregnancy and how much she loved her son, it's too late.
- Cotton Hill's wife, Didi, in King of the Hill is a surprisingly realistic portrayal, mainly due to the fact that her husband is a raging jerkass and giving birth took a lot out of her. It's a lucky thing she has Hank and Peggy and Bobby around to help her out, or G.H. would be screwed.
- A Family Guy episode has Peter mocking PPD by pretending to drown Stewie and whining "I'm sad about stuff!" Stewie chews him out for joking about such a serious issue. (Though he may have also been pissed at his father for pretending to drown him, too.)