Alex Winkelman Zeplain opens up about postpartum depression and encourages other moms to do the same.
By Jill Case, Photo by John Pesina
Postpartum depression is a medical condition that can happen to any woman, no matter how wonderful her pregnancy is, and whether she’s giving birth to her first baby or her sixth. Women tend to not talk about postpartum depression because they feel it’s their fault or they should be able to control such feelings. As a community and throughout country, women and their doctors need to fight this myth.
Alex Winkelman Zeplain, the Austinite known for her work founding and leading the nonprofit Citizen Generation, stepped forward to share her journey through postpartum depression with Austin Woman because she wants other women to understand it, seek help and, most of all, talk with each other to form a greater, more supportive community among mothers.
“By no means am I an expert in postpartum depression, but I want to share my story in hopes of spreading the message and helping others. This has been a hard time in my life. I did not expect any of this to happen, but I quickly learned it can affect anyone. And it also affects more than just the mother,” Winkelman Zeplain says. “In my experience, postpartum depression is not something that’s talked about, especially before you have a baby.”
Winkelman Zeplain had a normal pregnancy.
“It was super easy, blissful, wonderful. But when it came to the birth, I had a very unexpected emergency C-section,” she says. “Almost immediately, I was suffering but trying hard to push through because I had a new baby. I was in physical pain. I was essentially in emotional pain, and it’s really hard to go through a major surgery like that while taking care of a child.”
She also struggled with hearing other women’s experiences after their C-sections. Many of them told her they could drive or start exercising after two weeks, but that was not her experience.
“It took me two months before I could go on a walk by myself with my child,” Winkelman Zeplain says. “It physically took me a long time to recover. It really took a toll on me. I think, from there, the feelings of being overwhelmed, feeling like I was losing my identity, feeling isolated kept getting larger and larger for me.”
A few months postpartum, Winkelman Zeplain opened up to her obstetrician, who recommended a postpartum self-care regimen that included getting out more, getting more help and adding exercise every day, as well as sessions with a therapist. Some women can get better with talk therapy and self-care, while others may need medication to help them with their symptoms.
“Everyone is actually on her own journey with this,” Winkelman Zeplain says.
Her experiences inspired her to create a business to help other moms find the community she feels is so important. This new business, Tribe, will launch May 2 and focus on health and wellness for families, starting with Mom.
“We are opening a studio that will offer fitness classes, exceptional child care, healthy snacks, work spaces with Wi-Fi, classes and seminars. We have plans to soon add kids’ programming and wellness services as well,” Winkelman Zeplain says. “We want Tribe to be a place that brings people together, where they find support and community, all while taking care of their mind, body and soul—with child in tow, of course!”