Amanda Seyfried: You put your baby to sleep & hope they don’t die in the night


Amanda Seyfried is promoting her movie, A Mouthful of Air. The movie was written by Amy Koppelman based on her novel with the same name . It’s about Julia, a new mom dealing with postpartum depression. The film pulls no punches about how dark PPD can get. You can read Variety’s spoiler-filled review to see what I mean. I haven’t seen the film but going off the review, it sounds like they really did do their best to stay faithful to the experience of PPD. Without trying to give anything away, too often films show any kind of depression, including PPD, ‘cured’ by a traumatic event. That is not the case, and it sounds like this movie addresses that. While discussing the film on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Amanda talked about her hope that this movie will get a discussion of PPD going. She wants women to know that there’s help out there. But she also wants there to be more help because there’s not enough.

[A Mouthful of Air] reflects how we talk about mental health in general and also how we treat mothers in the healthcare system. As soon as you have a baby you go home and that’s it. There’s no fourth trimester check ins, there’s no ‘Hey, are you feeling OK?’ If you’re a single mother, you’re made to feel like you have to do it alone, which is crazy.

It used to be a tribe thing. Luckily for me we do have that. My mom lives with us and I can pass the baby off with her when I’m working. But it’s so traumatic to deliver a baby even when you’re not suffering from depression, anxiety or mental illness to begin with.

Every mother I’ve ever spoken to is terrified of the night times. You put your baby to sleep and then you’re just hoping that they don’t die in the middle of the night. It’s grim, but it’s the reality of motherhood and having a small child.

It’s really hard and we don’t talk about it enough and I hope this movie generates that conversation. I hope people understand that there is a lot of help out there and that we need more of it also. We can’t be forgotten as women, especially leaving the hospital, getting those $20,000 bills, even after insurance, and no help. Lactation consultants are not free and psychological help is not affordable.

[From Seth Meyers on YouTube]

Amanda is correct that having a baby is traumatic even if you don’t have depression. There does need to be more support out there for all mothers, not just new moms, post birth. Because every baby and postpartum experience is different. A woman’s first birth could be very different from her second, or her third could be unlike the first two. If you add money to the equation, the exorbitant cost of healthcare and mental healthcare bills, it can be too much.

Like Amanda, I hope this movie gets a conversation going. I hope professionals get involved, obviously, but I hope mothers feel comfortable enough to speak up. Because the truth is, if someone did check in during that time, we’re still conditioned to say “everything’s wonderful. I just love this baby and being a mom.” I hope women find a forum that they can truly speak freely about their feelings and the dark thoughts they’re having. Just hearing another person say, “I thought that too,” keeps a terrified new mom from thinking she’s a monster.




Photo credit: Avalon Red

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28 Responses to “Amanda Seyfried: You put your baby to sleep & hope they don’t die in the night”

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  1. Esmom says:

    Great post. Having a baby and raising a person is really, really hard. I had a therapist who said the difficulty was a dirty little secret for so long. I think it still is to a big degree, especially in the age of social media. Amanda gets it.

    Decent paid family leave, like most of the rest of the world has, would be a huge help…don’t get me started, though.

    • Katherine says:

      I hear from many new moms (and dads) how hard it is and it’s like a new thing – telling people the truth about parenthood, weird how it’s never been discussed before. Just ten years ago it was all effortless and wonderful.

    • Sue says:

      I was so relieved when both my sister and cousin told me “Hey, the newborn phase sucks.” It does. And saying it out loud doesn’t mean we aren’t dedicated moms or that we don’t love our babies. My daughter turns 3 months today and days are just getting to be more manageable now.
      I remember the first week home with the baby, in my college group chat telling my mom friends, “Wow you are all amazing warrior mamas for surviving this.” Only one of them was like, “Yeah the newborn phase is soooo hard!”
      And hey maybe it’s harder for some parents than others but it’s not sunshine and rainbows 24/7.

  2. Shell says:

    I remember not being able to sleep at all after I brought my first baby home.. I just sat there and watched them to make sure they were breathing, and I remember crying all the time because I was scared the moment I let my guard down they were going to die. I brought all the fancy breathing monitors but I still didn’t trust them. It was such a scary, lonely time.

    • Larry says:

      My daughter is 11 wks old and I constantly check her breathing at night because I am paranoid that she will die in her sleep. I am scared to touch her or be near her when she sleeps in case it might bring about SIDS, when really I just want to cuddle her. I have considered staying up all night but do usually just conk out. It’s insane, and I am lucky enough to be physically and mentally healthy.

    • keroppi says:

      I couldn’t sleep if my son was in the same room as I was for quite a while. I was the same way, constantly checking every noise, every grunt or wheeze.

      I could only sleep when my husband was on baby duty.

    • WonderLady says:

      My mother had a baby that died of SIDS at 5 months old (before I was born.) I grew up knowing this. My mother always donated to SIDS causes, she always spoke about him on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. As I became an adult she shared with me what that time was really like for her and how she coped and would still, almost 40 years later, cry.

      So when I had my baby girl I was petrified. There were milestones along the 1st year that made it a little easier to get some sleep-4 months, 6 months, and then a year. I lived in constant fear she would die in her sleep.

  3. faithmobile says:

    20k? My bill was under 2k. Last night I dreamt that I had to steal my baby because reasons. I woke up and was relieved that she was sleeping peaceful and was all mine. My daughter asked me what was the downside to having another baby and I told her the truth-the anxiety.

    • NCWoman says:

      You have good insurance, Her numbers were a bit off. The average out-of-pocket cost with insurance is now $4,500, and if you have a cesarean, it can easily hit $10,000. For women without insurance, it can easily hit $20 – $25K. But maybe she was factoring in the cost of unpaid parental leave to have the baby,

    • kimmy says:

      You are one of the lucky ones. If the baby requires any type of additional care such as the NICU?? Watch out…those bills are HIGH.

      • Bella says:

        I am one of the fortunate ones with fantastic insurance so I paid less than $100 in total over the the course of my pregnancy and after my twins were born.

        Thank God I did have that insurance because my twins were born at 27 weeks and the NICU bill was well over $600,000

        Then my husband changed jobs about a year later and with it the insurance changed. We had twin a have a major medical issue unexpectedly and our share, even with decent insurance, came to about $30,000 over 2 years because a lot of it was out of network

        Now jump ahead to today and I have the most phenomenal insurance that I’ve ever had in my life where it doesn’t matter what it is, I pay $10. MRI? $10 doctor visit? $10. Visit with the neurosurgeon? $10.

  4. Seraphina says:

    PPD – the more info and communication and discussions we have – the better for women. I had a mild case and had some really dark thoughts. It was so difficult. I felt like a failure and my mom would say I should be thankful for a safe and healthy delivery and baby – which I was – but my darkness lingered. For all the crap Dr. Phil gets, I was watching his show one afternoon while the baby slept and he had moms suffering from PPD. It was like a light went on and I was rescued. It all made sense and it helped me understand what was happening to me.
    And my lactation consultant was HORRID. I went as far to call the head of the hospital – she made me cry and to this day I get angry when I think about it – 18 years later.
    This information is needed to help us women. It’s not easy having a child and to care for it and to nurture it. And when you are not able to help yourself, how can you care for a tiny human.

  5. Rai says:

    I remember not bonding immediately with both my babies. With the first, I was so ashamed of myself and that added to my anxiety of all the things that could happen. With the second, who was our 16 year later “Surprise!” baby, I was more prepared, emotionally. But the frustration that I didn’t feel that immediate bond still stung.

    It amazes me that we as women and mothers, are conditioned to show every population grace but never ourselves.

  6. Tootsie McJingle says:

    I feel this. I’m not even a first time mom and I still do this. I have a 7 year old, 6 year old, and 3 month old twins. My twins (and I) caught a yucky cold so they are stuffy which makes nights rough. I’m up constantly making sure they’re breathing ok and not choking on their own snot. The lack of sleep and anxiety worsens the post partum depression symptoms. But I still have to function. I still have to be super mom. Mr. McJingle works 2pm-10pm so he sleeps in until about 11 and then leaves the house at 1. I post my happy pictures on Facebook to make it look like I’m handling it fine. I think there’s so much pressure on women to be the perfect
    mom. It makes it so even the tiniest misstep feels like a catastrophic failure. At least that’s how my mind works. I’m fortunate that I have an amazing OB who started me on meds and is continuing to check in with me. I have a video visit with her in a few weeks to check how it’s going and see if anything needs to be adjusted. I wish every post partum mother had this. One check in 6 weeks after birth is not enough. I realize this is a long, rambling, whiny post and I’m not sure where it’s going, but I identify so deeply with it, I just had to share my thoughts. Any of you Celebitches who have had kids, whether you ended up with PPD or not, just know that you are wanted, needed, and loved.

    • lawyergal says:

      You are so strong, and frankly a superhero. I did want to note that for a lot of people, perfect pictures on social media trigger a lot of their depression and hopelessness. Unless it’s helping you (which I definitely understand), maybe no need to pretend that everything’s fine?

  7. Cacec04 says:

    I had the worst post-partum anxiety after having my daughter. I’d have intrusive thoughts about something terrible happening to her all the time that took my breath away. At first, I thought it was normal new parent anxiety, because I didn’t know that post-partum anxiety was a thing (just post-partum depression). I’d heard of mums having scary thoughts of harming their kids, but mine was the opposite. I was always so scared that something random and bad would happen to her, but mostly kept it to myself. I finally got help when the anxiety started effecting me physically. Ladies, if you notice feeling more anxious than what you think may be normal please don’t wait as long as I did to get help.

    • Kate says:

      Also me. I didn’t know PPA was a thing until I was out of it and talking to a friend who had experienced it too (undiagnosed) and I realized that how I had been feeling wasn’t normal. I remember the pediatrician asking me how I am doing at one of the newborn checkups and I was trying so hard not to cry in front of her (because crying in front of a stranger – no thank you) and I’m pretty sure the PPD screening questions were just about harmful thoughts because they only really care about the safety of the baby.

      I think it would have been helpful if they had screening questions about PPA to at least open new moms’ eyes to the possibility that being so scared and wanting to cry all the time is not necessarily “the norm” that every parent goes through.

      It’s also very important that dads/partners are made aware of signs to look out for because (1) it put a great strain on my marriage and (2) how you start out as new parents kind of sets the tone going forward. It’s really hard to change roles and patterns that are established during that time.

    • Nicole says:

      It was awful!!!! So bad I thought I had spinal headaches from the spinal. The doctor I saw was so gentle and caring, he explained that it was probably just my anxiety. He gave me a prescription for tylenol with an anti-anxiety. I feel like he saved my life.

    • Kate says:

      I was going to edit my above comment but it was gonna get too long so anyway:

      ETA I think I knew severe PPA was a thing but I didn’t worry about unrealistic scary things happening like my baby falling out of a closed window so I didn’t think anything was wrong. I just became extremely controlling about every aspect of parenting thinking there was a way to do it perfectly. If baby didn’t take a long enough nap or threw up most of her milk there was no “oh well” it was that inner voice saying this is the worst thing, now she’s not going to sleep well later, she’s going to be fussy, she’s not going to gain enough weight, why did that happen? how can you do it better next time? was the room too cold? too hot? too loud? too bright? should i have burped her differently or sooner? was it something I ate that she is allergic to? and then i’d go on dr. google for an hour trying to figure out the answers so that I’d have a Plan and feel in Control and not so scared. Needless to say there was little to no flexibility for my husband to do things differently or for visitors to come if there was going to be any routine disruption. I was irritable and upset often and felt very alone. Unfortunately I believed that was how it had to be and that the moms who weren’t like that were just more laid back than me.

    • eliza says:

      I had never really considered PPA either, just PPD. I wasn’t depressed but I was scared out of my mind 100% of the time. It felt like being tortured. Truly. I didn’t even know how to describe to people how awful it was, and when I did it was usually met with, well everybody worries about their kid. And the thoughts were so intrusive. I remember just staring at him all night totally sure he was going to die. Eventually I got professional help and did exposure therapy which helped a lot. My kid is now seven and things do get a lot easier. Not easy, but easier. But truthfully I never considered having another kid because of how much ptsd I have from the first year. EDIT– Is it appropriate to call that PTSD? Or is that appropriating a word that’s meant for a different type of trauma?

  8. Ann says:

    I read a review of the film and realized that I can’t see it. I support it and hope other people will, because it’s so important to have this conversation.

    It takes place around the same time as I was having my two kids, and I am around the same age as the main character…..AND the baby has the same first name as my son. Yikes. I didn’t suffer from it that badly but I had some with both kids, and it lingered. It would be too triggering.

    I had support, not live-in help but very supportive in-laws nearby and a helpful spouse. My labor wasn’t too hard and my baby nursed easily. But I was still sleep-deprived, and just felt so much pressure to be not only perfect as a mother but also HAPPY. People expect you to be strong and blissful and grateful for everything, and God forbid you should ever feel tearful or crabby or not besotted with love for you baby, you know?

    Having a newborn is like a crisis. Once things settle, it’s easier, but people need to recognize that. Parents need more support, patience and understanding just like kids do.

  9. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Of course we’re riddled with frightening thoughts 24/7. How could we NOT be? My nightmares started when I found out I was pregnant. And I never hid them either. I was raised in that, ‘Everything is perfect,’ ideal. So I get it completely, but it’s not like that anymore. Any woman just has to be honest with herself, and if she speaks up, the dams break and we all chime in. Things have changed so so much. And when even telling my son to be on the constant lookout during pregnancy and well beyond for sadness, confusion, anger, etc., he understood completely.

    Every pregnancy book I ever read warned me about PPD. And the entry is even more fully realized in today’s literature. The fact that a celebrity is praised for admitting she’s afraid her baby might die every night is proof. Being afraid isn’t a weakness. It’s operating under fear’s weight which makes us super women with an abundance of courage and bravery. Too scared to sleep? We stay awake all night.

    And through all our fears, we still think about our spouses and other children if we have them. Maybe we order meals, maybe we cook them, but everyone gets fed. Our emotions and thoughts are on overload the minute we become responsible for other humans and it doesn’t stop, I’m assuming, until the day we die because I still think about my boys constantly and now there’s a grandbaby who was a preemie, hospitalized with covid, then hospitalized with a rare ear infection. I can promise you, your insides are doing the same gymnastics as when your kids were threatened by illnesses et al.

    I think what we need to do as a society now, is transform our healthcare. How many women need help but choose not to because of money? I know my hand is raised. My entire family’s motto is, we’ll get seen when we’re on our death bed.

  10. Nicole says:

    That newborn phase is no joke! I remember both of my boys slept right next to me in their bassinet so that I could check randomly throughout the night. I would wake up constantly. There was a sense of relief at 3 months. I knew SIDS was still possible, but the risks go down significantly. By the time 1 year hits, you’re relieved, but there are a significant amount of new challenges. I don’t think it ever gets easier.

  11. Yup, Me says:

    We just our second 3 months ago and the experience this time is soooo different (and yet still so similar). I had horrible post partum anxiety the first go round (not so this time) and was constantly terrified about waking up to a dead baby. We were fortunate to have a lot of family around (lived with our in laws with our first and my mother lives with us now) but I didn’t trust anyone enough to let them take my first son for any amount of time.

    Recently, I was talking to anothet mama friend and I said “No man or relationship is worth what we go through to have children. No one is worth this trauma if you aren’t doing it because you want a babh, yourself. My husband heard me and was like ‘Hey!’ And I responded ‘I said what I said and I meant it.’

    It’s insane to me that these lunatics running the country think it’s acceptable to force women to have children. We should force them to have a fourth trimester experience and watch them breakdown.

  12. Margo says:

    That statement about putting your baby down at night and hoping they don’t die is a SCARY TRUTH about Motherhood for a lot of women. It certainly was for me – those first few months, especially, are very difficult. I applaud her for speaking the truth on this topic.

  13. Emma says:

    I thought it was normal. I had serious post-natal anxiety – I couldn’t go to the toilet alone if my baby was in another room, what if he stopped breathing in that 2 minutes?? Once my baby was a year old I relaxed a little, because after 1 it’s far less likely to be SIDS. Basically, I didn’t sleep for a year. I was asked so many times about depression, but I was never depressed, I was just so anxious I could have provided nervous energy for the country. It’s strange how postnatal
    anxiety doesn’t get screened. I worked in PICU at that time so I was always expecting the worst.
    With my second, I almost killed her, I think- I woke up one morning to find her off my arm, cold and floppy. Luckily she was just asleep and the air con was on but omg, I almost died myself in that few seconds.
    I made it through, as did my babies who are now 7 and 5, but the fear has left scars on my soul.

  14. Jenmwesi says:

    I know there are moments when I just wish to be left alone when I just wish I could get a moment to myself because even if you in the toilet the kids are at the door calling you. And am afraid to ask anyone to take them for at least a day because then you are looked at as a bad mom.

  15. Identicaloskar says:

    There certainly does need to be more discourse on PPD and other things. I had it bad and I would sometimes lie in bed in the morning afraid to check on my baby in case he was dead. He is my second and my first was stillborn at 42 weeks. Questions like “how many kids do you have?” become incredibly uncomfortable for people in my situation. If we didn’t treat mental illness and death like a taboo maybe it would be easier to cope.