Alanis Morissette Gets Real Frank About Her Harrowing Home Birth & Postpartum Depression

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Alanis MorissetteThere are a whole lot of celebrity mommies out there who seem to be using their children to boost their careers. They exploit their pregnancies, sell magazine covers and give interview after interview about motherhood to connect with their new fan base. Those moms kind of annoy me.

And then, there’s another class of celebrity mothers. I want to be really careful in distinguishing these moms, because I feel like they can get lumped in with the attention-seekers too easily. These moms seem to be honestly invested in discussing motherhood, with all it’s glory and stress. They seem to want to further more than their own careers. They seem to want to provide a story, or a discussion, or connect with other moms on a real level. I think these women are brave and helping all of us open up about some really difficult things.

I consider Alanis Morissette to be in the second group of celebrities, and here’s why. The musician recently opened up about her struggles through a harrowing home birth and postpartum depression. She spoke candidly about a topic that’s hard for many mothers to admit to. In doing so, I really think that she furthered the conversation and people’s understanding about depression and how it affects new moms. Here’s what she told British magazine You:

“I had a natural birth at home in my bedroom. It was very long – over 25 hours – and harrowing. Not unusually for me, I was silent, so it felt like this long drug trip of a prayer that was physically excruciating. My husband saved the day. When I asked him, he would squeeze my head. At other times he would just be there and that was all I needed.

“The degree and intensity of my post-natal depression shocked me. I am predisposed to depression, but what surprised me this time was the physical pain. I hadn’t realized the depths to which you can ache – limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurt – and it went on for 15 months. I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal.

“I wished I could have cried but there was no relief during that time; my version of depression is almost below crying where there is just despondency… I had various therapies and now I feel all light and springy. Thankfully, it didn’t interfere with the bond with my son, although I think that has strengthened since I got better in April.”

First of all, let’s all take a step back and think about 25 hours of unmedicated labor. Did chills just go up your spine too? Do you ache just thinking about it? Glad I’m not alone there.

But Morissette doesn’t stop with her birth story. Her straight-forward discussion of the physical pain of depression is not an admission you hear very often. Her mention of connecting with her son through this condition is an aspect of postpartum depression that lots of mothers shy away from while discussing, out of fear about people’s perceptions.

I didn’t go through postpartum depression personally, but I have some close friends who did. No matter how many trend pieces on the issue get published, it still a taboo subject. There are still a lot of Tom Cruise‘s out there, who want to talk down to moms who are struggling. There’s a lot of misconceptions. So every time I hear one more woman stand up and tell her story, I feel grateful. I feel grateful that she wasn’t scared silent, and might be able to reach out to another mom who’s going through a similar circumstance.

(Photo: Adriana M. Barraza /


  1. BigBlue

    August 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Studies have recently linked unrelieved pain during labor with a higher risk of postpartum depression. It makes sense, because when you’re giving birth it feels like there is no end to the excruciating pain. It can really feel like torture.

    I also feel grateful for this story, because I believe I suffered from PPD but was too ashamed to tell anyone. I hope this story saves other women from going through the same thing.

  2. Kalalu

    August 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Thank you for this article. So glad that she is speaking so openly about this. I tried several times to get help with PPD but my doctor seemed to shrug it off and make me feel like this was normal. I understand what she means about the physical symptoms of depression. Even 13 months out for me and I feel like I still am hurting and normal activities are exhausting for me. I have a history of depression and feel immense guilt that I could feel this way after having my daughter. It’s a real issue and I wish my doctor and other people would be more sensitive to this.

    • Valeri Jones

      March 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

      You need to find another doctor. Even if you had no friends or relatives that you felt you could talk to about this, your doctor is one person who SHOULD be there to listen and to help you. I know it’s been a long time since you’ve posted this, and I sincerely hope you are feeling better. But I know what depression is like. Although I didn’t suffer PPD (just “normal” baby blues) with my son, I do have a history of clinical depression. I know how hard it was to just get up and participate in life and how much I missed out on during those shadowed times. I couldn’t imagine doing that with my toddler and no mother deserves to go through that.

  3. Pingback: Alanis Morissette Wears Her Self Love On The Butt Of Her Bikini

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