Writing

Blog Posts and Articles from Across the Web

Maternity Matters: Sibling Transitions and Guilt

Guilt is present in so many aspects of expanding a family and is something I speak to clients about with great frequency. However, like most things in the perinatal sphere, guilt is deeply steeped in shame. For that reason, I find that many of my clients have trouble speaking openly about it or joke about it to mask what they are really feeling. In an effort to encourage an open and honest conversation about that guilt, here are four examples of how that guilt arises when expanding your family.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Turkey with A Side of Grief: Coping with Pregnancy Loss and Infertility During the Holidays

In three days families all around the country will gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving, marking the start of the holiday season. While this can be a joyous time of year for so many, it can be painful one. In my clinical practice, I work with many women who have experienced pregnancy loss or who are coping with infertility. For them, this is often a time of year marked by unacknowledged grief, insensitive comments, and various emotional landmines.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Sticks and Stones-The Problem with the Language of Birth

Last week, Time magazine’s cover story “The Goddess Myth: How a Vision of Perfect Motherhood Hurts Moms” spoke eloquently about the impact of mom-shaming and how an extreme emphasis on “natural” birthing and motherhood leads to tremendous guilt, shame, and sadness in new moms. This article got me thinking a lot about language, specifically the words we use to talk about birth and parenting

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: This is What Choice Really Looks Like

In the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about the language we use to talk about abortion. There is a lot of focus on when an abortion is “acceptable” (life of the mother is threatened, rape, incest), when a fetus may or may not feel pain, and when life begins. This highly polarized language is extremely problematic as it implies that the choice to terminate a pregnancy can be boiled down to an overly simplified belief structure.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: It's Time to Talk about Abortion

Earlier this month Bernie Sanders and 16 other Democrats in the Senate have introduced a “Medicare-for-All” single-payer health care bill that would offer comprehensive reproductive health care and expand access to abortions by eliminating the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion services.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: 10 TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE NICU

In continued recognition of NICU AWARENESS MONTH, I’m focusing this week on how to take care of your emotional wellbeing during a NICU stay. In addition to drawing from my clinical experience, I am especially grateful to have had some NICU moms weigh in on this piece. Meagan Owensby Garibay is a former NICU nurse and mom of two children who both spent time in the NICU stays. Seema Aghera is a mother of three girls and experienced a NICU stay with her youngest daughter. I am also speaking from my personal experience as a NICU mom. My NICU baby celebrated a birthday this month so it is also in honor of her that I write this.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Vote No! Ivanka Trump, Postpartum Depression, and The Graham Cassidy Bill

Earlier this week during an interview on the “Dr. Oz” show, Ivanka Trump revealed a personal battle with postpartum depression. She joins a chorus of celebrities speaking out about their experiences and bringing much needed attention to an issue that impacts millions of women and families each year.  While I applaud anyone willing to speak about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, I can’t help but note the absurdity in the timing of her revelation. 

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness (NICA) Month

September is Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness (NICA) Month. Every year approximately 10-15% of all babies born in the United States spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit(NICU). Reasons for NICU admissions vary but can include prematurity, birth defects, breathing problems, infections, low blood sugar, and seizures.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: INTEGRATED MENTAL HEALTH CARE: AN INTERVIEW WITH GOLZAR SELBE NAGHSHINEH

Imagine for a moment, that you are at your annual medical check up. What if, in addition to asking about your diet, taking your vitals, and conducting routine labs, your doctor also asked about your emotional health?  And what if, when you said you had some concerns about your mood, your doctor walked you down the hall to meet with the therapist embedded in her practice. This is integrated mental health care!

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: How to Support a Friend or Patient after a Traumatic Birth

Rounding out my series on traumatic birth experiences are some tips on how to best support a friend or loved one after a birth trauma. I also offer some suggestions for OB’s, midwives, and other birth support professionals on how to offer more supportive care. But first, some REAL examples culled from clients (they have given me permission to share their experiences) of things that were said to them by their medical teams and loved ones. 

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Emma Basch
Psychcentral Podcast: What is Postpartum Depression

In this episode of the Psych Central Show, hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales welcome guest Dr. Emma Basch. Dr. Basch is a licensed clinical psychologist as well as the author of PsychCentral’s Maternity Matters blog. She joins our hosts (two childless men, it should be noted) to discuss the many aspects of postpartum depression. Listen in to learn some surprising facts and statistics about postpartum depression, including how common it is. Learn how it differs from “regular” depression, the ties it has to anxiety, the known causes of postpartum depression, and several suggestions for how to treat it.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Having a Baby after a Traumatic Birth

For many women who have experienced a traumatic birth, contemplating a subsequent pregnancy is fraught. This can be true for those who have experienced continued post-traumatic symptoms, as well as for those who’ve felt relatively at peace for some time. In my experience, with a lot of planning and proper supports, it is possible to have a positive birth experience after a traumatic one. Of course, as pregnancy and birth are unpredictable, it may not be the birth you envisioned, but it could still be a reparative and healing experience.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: What to Expect after the Unexpected- Your Emotions Following a Traumatic Birth

Last week I began to address the topic of traumatic births and postpartum PTSD. This week I want to delve more into the emotional experiences of new moms following a traumatic birth. In my work with postpartum clients, I’ve observed that these reactions often come in waves, with some shifts and changes with time and distance from the trauma. Below are some examples culled from my clinical practice. 

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: On Birth Trauma

Perhaps you have been imagining your “perfect” birth experience for months. You have a playlist ready to go, a doula, and birth plan on hand. You are prepared, you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve read every book, and then things fall apart.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Why Universal Screening for PMADs Is Not Enough

In the last few years there has been a significant push to screen pregnant and postpartum women for symptoms of depression. In fact, in 2015 the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended screening at least once during the perinatal period for symptoms of anxiety and depression using a clinically validated assessment tool such as the EDPS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) or the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9). Several states have followed suit in mandating depression screenings for perinatal populations.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: The Pregnancy and Postpartum Bill of Rights

I encourage all my pregnant and postpartum clients to draft a list of ways they would like their medical care providers to interact with them which are supportive of  their emotional needs and bolster their mental health. I refer to this as their Pregnancy/Postpartum Bill of Rights.  Yes, it’s strong rhetoric but the language is intentional as I often see women who are reluctant to advocate for themselves. They don’t want to be difficult, they don’t want to offend, they want to be “good patients.” Consequently, they feel disempowered and their emotional wellbeing suffers.

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Emma Basch
Maternity Matters: Secure Your Oxygen Masks: How We Are Failing Moms

A few weeks ago, ProPublica published a sobering article entitled The Last Person You’d Expect to Die in Childbirth. The article addressed the extremely high maternal mortality rates in the United States, which are contrasted significantly with low infant mortality rates.

In trying to understand this enormous discrepancy, the authors note numerous examples in which our medical system: from medical education, to Medicaid spending, to hospital credentialing, to routine obstetric and postpartum care protocols; privileges the health of babies while ignoring the health of moms.

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Emma Basch
Mindful Return: Normal New Working Mom Anxiety or Something More? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Parenting, and particularly parenting a baby, requires an enormous amount of mental and physical effort.  There are the logistical challenges of making sure everyone is fed, clothed, and bathed.  And that everyone gets to where they need to be on time.  There are intense physical demands such as healing a postpartum body, nursing, and getting very little sleep.  And of course, there are significant emotional challenges.  Adjusting to the significant shift in identity (great piece on this here,) struggling with the very real problem of mommy guilt, and managing the emotional labor of a family can take a real toll on one’s emotional wellbeing.

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Emma Basch