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Postpartum Mental Health: How You & Your Family Can Ensure Support (Originally posted on Zencare.com

Postpartum Mental Health: How You & Your Family Can Ensure Support

Emotional fluctuations are a fact of life after birth, as new moms experience a range of emotion: Excitement, apprehension, exhaustion, annoyance, and sheer joy. Extreme lows are common, and are known as the “baby blues.”

For most women, those lows peter out by two weeks post-birth; but for others, they simply stay put, rather than lifting. Those feelings of depression may start to appear alongside stress, anxiety, and loneliness – all manifested in bouts of weeping, say, or mood swings. This is characteristic of postpartum depression, which affects an estimated 1 in 7 postpartum women.  

Tending to your mental health is a good way to monitor for issues like postpartum depression. Here’s how you, and/or your support system, can do exactly that.

Things Moms Can Do to Support Their Mental Health Postpartum

As you take care of a new life, don’t forget yourself! Here are some great starting points to tackle postpartum mental health challenges in the bud:

  • Get educated: Be educated before birth about what to look for in terms of postpartum mood disorders.  Educate your partner/primary support systems as well.
  • Get screened: Be routinely screened for postpartum mood disorders after giving birth. This is becoming more and more regulated, but insist on being screened if it's not happening.  Ask what your score is if providers don't discuss it with you.
  • Get social: Attend a new mom's group, even if you think you'll hate it.  
  • Get planning: Start 4th trimester planning early. Figure out who can help you -- and get specific. Who can watch the baby while you sleep or shop? Who can clean your home when you’re exhausted? Who can drop off food when your little one is too sick for you to step out?
  • Get prepared: You may have not needed any help to run your household prior to the baby, but simple tasks like folding laundry can take extra time when caring for an infant.  Asking for help can be difficult for us, it helps to have identified people at the ready before they are needed.  

Things Families and Partners Can Do to Support A New Mom’s Mental Health

Partners and family can be a world of help for new moms when they know how! Support the new mom in your life by:

  • Helping her set out postpartum plans, before birth
  • Respecting her limits and boundaries
  • Offering unobtrusive help, such as meal delivery gift cards, laundry service, a cleaning agency, or groceries delivered
  • Offering to watch baby while mom runs errands, goes to an appointment, or tends to self care
  • Getting educated on the signs and symptoms of postpartum mood disruption and know who to talk to if they notice these signs in their loved one

This last one is crucial, as it fosters the knowledge needed for open conversations with mom about these issues before they come up. This kind of active planning can alleviate a lot of stress.  

It may help to ease expectations of new mothers

Many cultures have long had traditions where they sometimes shelter the mother, care for her for sometimes up to 40 days, while she rests, recuperates, and focuses on only feeding her infant. Many U.S. societies have gotten far from these rituals, and often have unrealistic expectations of women after giving birth – like sending them back to work after six weeks.  

Help mom honor her own needs during this time, when often the focus is on the care of the infant.  

Care for yourself in this period, too!

Partners should also be aware of their own needs during the postpartum period, as they are at risk for developing their own depression and anxiety.

Seeking therapy for perinatal mental health

Whether it’s you or your loved one who’s seeking a perinatal mental health provider, the one thing you want to look for is training. I cannot stress this enough!

Most therapists are generalists; they may see a variety of issues and see a lot of different kinds of clients. Postpartum specialists, on the other hand, can be found listed on Postpartum Support International (or PSI).  

PSI has recently added a certification that qualified providers can apply for – it involves years of both clinical training, experiential work, and passing an exam.  You can also look for a therapist that has been trained by The Postpartum Stress Center, or filter by postpartum therapists on Zencare.

If you are having difficulty finding someone well trained, another great place to ask is your OB-GYN or pediatrician.  They often have a list of competent and much loved providers that they work with and refer to often.  You also may need someone who fits your location needs and insurance needs.  

In addition to being well trained in perinatal and postpartum mood issues, the other thing to look for is a good fit.  By this, I mean you may need to meet with the provider and get a feel for their style of therapy and personality.  

This is essential for therapy for be effective.  Don't be scared to meet with a couple of different people in order to find the one you "click with.” The important thing to remember is that quality trained help is out there, and you can feel better.  

Don't wait.  As some of my past clients have said: “If you're wondering if this is postpartum mood issues, it's probably time to get help.”

 

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BEDA Conference 2017!

Corinne Crossley, LMHC and I attended the BEDA 2017 Conference this weekend in NYC!  Corinne has been my partner in crime practically since I started private practice almost ten years ago (whoah, ten YEARS?!).  Now, Corinne and I have a new endeavor together, a book!  

 

We love attending the BEDA conference, and this year was no exception.  Here's some of what we saw and did!

 

On Thursday evening, we saw an amazing viewing of "Fattitude", a movie that explores " fat discrimination and its main obective is to make the general public more aware of the prejudice that fat people experience."  Boy, did it ever.  I think I can safely say we were both touched by the stories we saw and the very real statistics about weight discrimination and fat bias in America.  What was REALLY cool was that so many of our idols were in the film and ALSO IN THE AUDIENCE WITH US (I'm talking about YOU Jen Ponton and Virgie Tovar (#girlcrushheroes).  

 

Friday and Saturday were filled with many sessions, and most of them were amazing!  One of the highlights was "Eating Disorders in Marginalized Populations: What is the impact of Food Insecurity?".  In this session, we learned about the impact of food scarcity on marginalized populations, and how it impacted binge eating behavior.  So impactful, and made us think about how we can listen to this community more about what they need.  

 

We also loved Amy Pershing's session, "Unsafe as a Way of Life: The Role of Complex Trauma in The Development of Binge Eating Disorder".  The link between trauma and ED has been well documented, and Amy reinforced for us the identification of trauma in the BED population, and encouraged us to work without re-traumatizing, something we are grateful for.  

 

Dr. Kimberly Dennis taught us about the role of addiction in BED, and was careful to identify that we are not talking about 'food addiction' here, but rather, the idea that some of the same brain circuitry exists and reinforces binging behavior.  Dr. Dennis is so smart, we wish we could listen to her session two more times, because it was a lot of good science to take in.  

 

Overall, this conference is always amazing and exhausting, and renews our passion to help women (and men!) recover from BED.  We got to see many of our friends and colleagues, caught up on the latest research in BED and Health At Every Size (HAES) and made some new connections in the field.  In addition, we spoke with many folks about our upcoming book, and the importance of helping moms learn more about mindful eating!  I know we'll get to attend this one again, and maybe even speak...!

 

BEDA isn't just for professionals, though...if you or someone you love has struggled with BED in the past, BEDA can be an amazing place to gain community and information-anyone can become a member.  Thanks to everyone who made this year's conference a success, and we can't wait until next year!

 

Postpartum Mental Health: How You & Your Family Can Ensure Support (Originally posted on Zencare.com

Postpartum Mental Health: How You & Your Family Can Ensure Support

Emotional fluctuations are a fact of life after birth, as new moms experience a range of emotion: Excitement, apprehension, exhaustion, annoyance, and sheer joy. Extreme lows are common, and are known as the “baby blues.”

For most women, those lows peter out by two weeks post-birth; but for others, they simply stay put, rather than lifting. Those feelings of depression may start to appear alongside stress, anxiety, and loneliness – all manifested in bouts of weeping, say, or mood swings. This is characteristic of postpartum depression, which affects an estimated 1 in 7 postpartum women.  

Tending to your mental health is a good way to monitor for issues like postpartum depression. Here’s how you, and/or your support system, can do exactly that.

Things Moms Can Do to Support Their Mental Health Postpartum

As you take care of a new life, don’t forget yourself! Here are some great starting points to tackle postpartum mental health challenges in the bud:

  • Get educated: Be educated before birth about what to look for in terms of postpartum mood disorders.  Educate your partner/primary support systems as well.
  • Get screened: Be routinely screened for postpartum mood disorders after giving birth. This is becoming more and more regulated, but insist on being screened if it's not happening.  Ask what your score is if providers don't discuss it with you.
  • Get social: Attend a new mom's group, even if you think you'll hate it.  
  • Get planning: Start 4th trimester planning early. Figure out who can help you -- and get specific. Who can watch the baby while you sleep or shop? Who can clean your home when you’re exhausted? Who can drop off food when your little one is too sick for you to step out?
  • Get prepared: You may have not needed any help to run your household prior to the baby, but simple tasks like folding laundry can take extra time when caring for an infant.  Asking for help can be difficult for us, it helps to have identified people at the ready before they are needed.  

Things Families and Partners Can Do to Support A New Mom’s Mental Health

Partners and family can be a world of help for new moms when they know how! Support the new mom in your life by:

  • Helping her set out postpartum plans, before birth
  • Respecting her limits and boundaries
  • Offering unobtrusive help, such as meal delivery gift cards, laundry service, a cleaning agency, or groceries delivered
  • Offering to watch baby while mom runs errands, goes to an appointment, or tends to self care
  • Getting educated on the signs and symptoms of postpartum mood disruption and know who to talk to if they notice these signs in their loved one

This last one is crucial, as it fosters the knowledge needed for open conversations with mom about these issues before they come up. This kind of active planning can alleviate a lot of stress.  

It may help to ease expectations of new mothers

Many cultures have long had traditions where they sometimes shelter the mother, care for her for sometimes up to 40 days, while she rests, recuperates, and focuses on only feeding her infant. Many U.S. societies have gotten far from these rituals, and often have unrealistic expectations of women after giving birth – like sending them back to work after six weeks.  

Help mom honor her own needs during this time, when often the focus is on the care of the infant.  

Care for yourself in this period, too!

Partners should also be aware of their own needs during the postpartum period, as they are at risk for developing their own depression and anxiety.

Seeking therapy for perinatal mental health

Whether it’s you or your loved one who’s seeking a perinatal mental health provider, the one thing you want to look for is training. I cannot stress this enough!

Most therapists are generalists; they may see a variety of issues and see a lot of different kinds of clients. Postpartum specialists, on the other hand, can be found listed on Postpartum Support International (or PSI).  

PSI has recently added a certification that qualified providers can apply for – it involves years of both clinical training, experiential work, and passing an exam.  You can also look for a therapist that has been trained by The Postpartum Stress Center, or filter by postpartum therapists on Zencare.

If you are having difficulty finding someone well trained, another great place to ask is your OB-GYN or pediatrician.  They often have a list of competent and much loved providers that they work with and refer to often.  You also may need someone who fits your location needs and insurance needs.  

In addition to being well trained in perinatal and postpartum mood issues, the other thing to look for is a good fit.  By this, I mean you may need to meet with the provider and get a feel for their style of therapy and personality.  

This is essential for therapy for be effective.  Don't be scared to meet with a couple of different people in order to find the one you "click with.” The important thing to remember is that quality trained help is out there, and you can feel better.  

Don't wait.  As some of my past clients have said: “If you're wondering if this is postpartum mood issues, it's probably time to get help.”

 

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Next Living Courageously Workshop is READY!

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Resource Store!

Feel free to shop below!  These are all resources I recommend with love and confidence!

Need some other resources?

The Daring Way™

 

Links for PostPartum Depression:

 

Links for Binge Eating Disorder:

Links for DATING!

  • http://www.tableforeight.com  I think Table for Eight is one of the first places I would go if I were going to date! 
  • http://www.thebostoncalendar.com/ The Boston Calendar always has up-to-date info on what's going on in the city and surrounding burbs.  My weekend bible.  
  • http://www.meetup.com  Meetup is great-not only might you find someone special, you'll be doing something you like anyway.  

 

Links for Reproductive Health:

Links for Quarter Life Crisis:

 

Links to Help You Invite More Calm to your Life: