ABC’s “Black-ish” is no stranger to tackling tough topics in ways that manage to be creative and impactful, while somehow remaining funny and tremendously accessible. The most recent episode featured a powerful story line centered around Rainbow “Bow” Johnson’s struggles with postpartum depression (PPD) after giving birth to her son Devante.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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!Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
June marks Pride month, with cities around the world marking the occasion with marches, parades, family carnivals, and all kinds of great events. This past weekend we celebrated pride right here in the nation’s capital. Pride is of course about celebrating and supporting our GLBTQI family members, friends, and community. But it’s also a reminder to take stock of and consider the numerous ways our country’s policies, laws, and protections continue to marginalize and discriminate against GLBTQI people. This is especially true for those of us whose identities and various points of privilege affords us the space to not think about this daily.Read More
Over the past few weeks, you’ve learned about perinatal mood and anxiety factors, how to find support, and how to support a friend or partner. This week I wanted to speak to the importance of social support, and specifically, how essential it is to connect with other moms and parents with kids of the same age. There is incredible value in this. Indeed, countless studies have shown that lack of social support during pregnancy and the postpartum period puts women at higher risk for developing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD).
In last week’s post, I ended with a promise to feature more information and more first first person accounts of women and men who have experienced perinatal mood and anxiety disorders whose voices are underrepresented. With that goal in mind, I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview Divya B. Kumar, ScM, CPD, CLC; a co-founder of the Perinatal Mental Health Alliance for Women of Color (PMHA-WOC).Read More
In last week’s post, I spoke about what to do and where to turn if you are concerned you are experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. A question I get asked frequently is how to be helpful if you have a friend or partner who is suffering, or if you are concerned about someone. I wanted to spend this week’s post addressing this.Read More
Postpartum depression is getting a lot of press these days. Sparked in part by Chrissy Tiegans’s touching article in Glamour Magazine about her own struggles with postpartum depression, there have been a lot of celebrities opening up about their experiences with PPD, and a lot more mainstream articles written about the subject. Additionally two documentaries (When the Bough Breaks and Dark Side of the Full Moon) were recently released which focus on the topic.