But awareness of the problem helps sufferers take control of the situation. Yates, however, probably was a victim of postpartum psychosis, a more severe form of depression in which women have delusions and unreasonable thoughts, Emmerich said. Only about one out of every 1,000 mothers experience it.
Emmerich and Mona said they don't think Yates should receive the death penalty because of her postpartum condition and mental state.
"It is something that you come out of, and she'll come out of it," Mona said. "And there is nothing they can do punishment-wise that is going to hurt her any more than to have her spend her life knowing she did this."
The people in Yates' life should also share blame, Emmerich said.
"It takes someone around them to recognize and see that they need help," she said. "Others around her failed her."
Mona, for example, expressed appreciation for her own "wonderful, supportive" husband during her bouts of postpartum depression.
Having a good support group is one of the best treatments of postpartum depression, Emmerich said. In addition, Emmerich recommended serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors, a class of anti-depressants, for women experiencing postpartum depression.
Those medications, particularly Zoloft and Paxil, are considered safe for breast-feeding mothers, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
"Usually postpartum depression can be managed by the obstetrician or gynecologist. Only in extreme cases are the patients referred to psychiatric help," Emmerich said.
Most women can see results with the medication after two to four weeks but need to stay on it for six to 12 months, Emmerich said.
Mona began taking an anti-depressant two weeks after Maggie was born. The medication helped even out her moods by preventing low lows and high highs, she said.
"Medications can't make a baby stop crying, and nothing will tighten your belly or make your breasts not hurt, but they can help you cope with it a little better," she said.
After seeing the results of her medication, Mona said she became angry for all the time she lost after her son was born. Doctors need to ask the right questions so they can diagnose a woman who is not feeling like herself after having a child, she said.
Mona was thankful to find Emmerich, who was not her obstetrician for her first child.
"She seems more focused on (diagnosing postpartum depression) than other doctors," Mona said.
As Mona begins raising Madeline while taking care of Michael and Maggie, she said she will look to her husband and friends for support, along with her medication. She is going to try to take time to herself to catch her breath and begin riding her horse again when she is physically capable.
When the kids are older, Mona said she would like to go back to school to become a doctor.
"I'd love to be an obstetrician someday so somebody remembers to ask the right questions," she said.
Copyright © Becky Hart. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.