Danielle Brooks on Postpartum Depression: 'Felt Like My Whole World Had Flipped Upside Down'

Danielle Brooks is opening up about postpartum struggles and the unrealistic pressure to "bounce back" after having her first baby.

The 31-year-old Orange Is the New Black alum shares daughter Freeya, 16 months, with fiancé Dennis Gelin, and in a new cover story for Parents' May 2021 issue, Brooks says having a baby "really did take a toll on my body and on me mentally," and shares how she approaches her well-being now as a working mom.

"I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy, and I think I did go through postpartum depression," says Brooks. "I was trying to stay positive when it felt like my whole world had flipped upside down. Creating a human takes a toll on women's bodies. Sometimes we don't give ourselves enough love or patience about that."

"You may think you're going to bounce back miraculously, but that's not true for a lot of people. I'm one of them," she continues. "While I want to return to my pre-baby size, at the same time, I want to love this skin that I'm in now."

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Brooks says she is "working on eating well," noting that she's doing so "not just to keep losing weight but to stay healthy."

"If I want to continue to live a life full of abundance, I have to plant those seeds now," says the singer/actress. "I bought roller skates and a personal trampoline. Freeya will jump up and down, imitating me. I find peace by taking walks with Freeya too. I try to incorporate her into things that bring me joy and calmness. And I really like the advice to 'talk to yourself as if you are your best friend.' "

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As for the potential of having more children, Brooks, who stars in the new Lifetime biopic Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, says she's "in and out" on that subject at the moment.

"Right now, I'm getting to the part where I'm okay with shedding that old skin and discovering somebody new," she says. "Once I feel a bit more whole and not like a machine that is being put back together, then I might consider it."

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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