In a new interview, singer and songwriter Meghan Trainor is opening up about the hardships she endured after her son was born—particularly in relation to her son’s stay in the NICU during his first few days of life.
After a difficult pregnancy and C-section delivery, Trainor’s son Riley—whom she shares with husband Daryl Sabara—her son Riley arrived in February 2021. Her son needed to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for a few days after his birth as well. Unfortunately, according to Trainor, the nurses on staff at the time didn’t help assuage her fears about it. In fact, they made her feel as though she was to blame for it.
“They kept asking me if I was on antidepressants during the pregnancy, and I was, but on the lowest dose possible, and all my doctors said it was safe and wouldn’t affect him,” she tells Romper. “It was really f***ed up. They had no name for what was wrong. He just wouldn’t wake up. They said, ‘It’s really up to Riley when he wants to wake up.’ I’d be like ‘Really? Can’t you just zap him and get him up?’”
Women who take antidepressants like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), during pregnancy may worry about whether the medications can cause birth defects. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there is generally no need to taper off antidepressants during pregnancy.
“We can say with strong confidence that antidepressants don’t cause birth defects,” says Lauren Osborne, M.D., assistant director of the Johns Hopkins Women’s Mood Disorders Center. Osborne says studies finding a physical effect on babies from antidepressants taken during pregnancy fail to account for the effects of the mother’s psychiatric illness.
Untreated mental illness itself poses risks to a developing fetus, after all. Someone who is pregnant and depressed is less likely to get good prenatal care, and may be more likely to engage in unhealthy or dangerous behaviors, like smoking and substance abuse. Additionally, Osborne also says mental illness has direct effects on newborn babies.
“Untreated depression may increase preterm birth or cause low birth weight,” she says. “Babies of depressed moms have higher levels of a hormone called cortisol. This raises a baby’s risk of developing depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders later in life.”
Motherhood and self-blame and guilt all seem to go hand-in-hand far more than they should. Feeling like you’re to blame—or being made to feel like you’re to blame—during such a terrifying first few days of motherhood is absolutely awful.
Trainor and Sabara took Riley home after just five days. He didn’t cry much during the first month of his life, which caused the couple to spiral into bouts of anxiety.
“We kept being like, ‘Uh oh, what’s up with him? Is this what serial killers are like when they’re first born? They never cry?’” she said.
Despite the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and her son’s newborn days, Trainor says she and Sabara still want more children—and may even begin trying again in the fall.
“I would love twins,” she confirms. “A two-for-one deal.”