May 04, 2012
Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals
By: Kathy Morelli | 0 Comments
Childbirth Professionals: Positive Actions and Words that Heal
As I write this, I wonder how the childbirth community feels about this issue? I would certainly understand if it brings up discomfort. I'd love to hear your point of view!
You can help a lot by becoming educated about perinatal mood/anxiety disorders, having a list of community and online resources, and working with your clients to update their Birth Plan with a section on Postpartum Planning. These are ways to be of help without overstepping your personal, certification or licensure boundaries.
The best positive actions are empathic understanding, education, prevention by preparation, and providing resources.
Prevention by Preparation!
Sample Postpartum Support Plan - Add Your Own Information!
1. Social Support
Family & friends can offer the first line of support, but sometimes it's not enough. Keep in mind alot of people do not have a safe home or a safe family to go to.
Local support groups in your community will vary by location
Online support groups:
There are many online websites & forums that are free, to address any
type of situation, including preemie, bedrest, birth trauma, infidelity.
2. Professional Support
- Ob/gyn number
- Pediatrician number
- Primary Care Physician number
- Postpartum doula
- La Leche League meetings nearby
- Lactation consultant
- Psychiatrist number
- Therapist number - contact the insurance company beforehand as there can be a referral process needed. Some therapists will do limited home visits & many now use Skype. Get a referral from friends & family or couch shop via Psychology Today.
3. Practical Support
Meals for the first month?
Many towns have local delis or restaurants with a special menu with different pricing (less complex food) for people who are experiencing an illness or need some extra help. You can collect money and order from this menu, if there is no time for people to participate in a meal preparation chain.
Provide options for infant sleep methods, including information about infant fourth trimester or babymoon. Hiring a postpartum doula or getting family help can get the mom some good sleep.
There are many good compromises to co-sleeping and feeding on demand. Research Dr. Karp, Mrs. Pantley, Mrs. Kurcinka and even Dr. Weissbluth has some positive messages. You don't have to agree with everything the author says, just take away the points you wish and integrate them into your parenting style. Secure emotional attachment really can occur in a wide range of healthy parenting styles. My business blog has reviews of most of the current infant sleep methods, so your clients don't have to read all those books.
MindBody Methods Can Help Manage Emotions
Substantial research supports mindbody therapies as a way to manage your emotions. Yoga, mindfulness, massage/shiatsu/acupressure, exercise and counseling have all been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
I think that many types of mindbody methods can help some people, but for clinical depression, you need to help her not be ashamed to seek professional help.
Sometimes, some social support and mindbody methods are enough for an individual and sometimes they are not.
Some people are too depressed /anxious to be proactive enough to try these methods and they may need medication. Others are able to manage their emotions with their own individualized plan. It is difficult to make a blanket statement about all people.
But I urge you not to judge how the person chooses to treat his or her mental illness.
There is no shame in asking for help and getting treatment.
Create a family & friend support chain. This can be coordinated on line - get people to commit to a few hours/days a week at a time, to protect the mental health of the mother. LotsAHelpingHands is an online website where this type of community support can be arranged. Tasks such as: going over the house and holding the baby, to let Mom take a shower, cooking a meal, driving the Mom to a psychiatrist appt, etc. can be listed in private projects on this site.
Words that Heal
Please share your own Words That Heal in the comments area!
You are not alone, you are not to blame, with help you will get better.
You are a good mother.
You guys are good parents.
You are doing this 'right'.
All moms are tired, this is normal. You are not unusual.
You baby looks so attached to you!
There is a broad range of parenting practices that produce securely attached human beings, you are allowed to take a break from mothering, and it will not harm the attachment bond.
You know, nobody goes it alone.
You are a good mother!
You are a good person going through a rough patch.
You know, nobody goes it alone. Maybe you can take a look online at some resources.Let me help you, you need professional help, it's ok. Everyone needs help now & then, you are a good mother.
If you had diabetes, you would get help for that. It's the same sort of thing, so there's help available.
Getting help is not a sign of weakness, don't wait it out, get help, you are not alone, there is no need to suffer.
Actions that Heal
- Encourage the mother to increase self-care.
- Encourage the father or a friend to organize a support chain.
- Encourage the mother to release self-blame and accept help.
- Help the mother get some sleep, give her a list of postpartum doula resources. It is worth it to spend the money to hire a postpartum doula to help with the night shift for a month so.
- If she is exhausted, assure there are many methods of raising a securely attached and emotionally health infant. If she is invested in attachment parenting, there may be a way to compromise so she can get sleep.
- Refer her to professional treatment in your local area.
Helpful Hints About Professional Treatment
Primary care can diagnose depression. PCPs can offer a first line of antidepressant treatment and referrals to therapists in the area. A true depression is most effectively treated with a combination of antidepressants and therapy, not just medication alone. Sometimes just a few sessions of therapy help immensely. If the PCP does not give a referral to a therapist, then there is no use in lamenting the practice did not give you a referral. Just help her pursue one yourself.
Psychology Today has listings. Sometimes her insurance company or company EAP will work with their clients to do some preliminary screening. It is worth the phone call to see if this service is offered. I frequently get such calls. It is ok to couch shop by telephone. It can feel frustrating, but it is worth the effort to find someone with whom you feel a connection.
If the medication is not right, she will know by how she feels. She can trust her inner feelings. If she doesn't feel right, if she feels more anxious, if she feels worse, she needs to speak up. She needs to re-visit the prescribing doctor. In some cases, it is necessary to see a psychiatrist about psychotrophic medications. There is no shame in seeing someone in this specialty. It does not mean the person is 'crazy.' It just means this particular, individual balance of psychotrophic medication needs a specialist's eye.
I hope the readers of this blog, the childbirth educators have found this three-part series about perinatal mental illness to be helpful and I sure hope it demystifies things! I am very curious to hear your feedback/input! Any and all questions are welcome!
Online Perinatal Mental Health Resources:
Postpartum Support International
Organization of Teratogen Information Specialists
Lotsa Helping Hands
Helpful Mom to Mom Blogs - Add More in the Comments!
My Postpartum Voice
Ivy's PPD Blog
TagsPostpartum depression Childbirth education Postpartum Perinatal Mood Disorders Maternal Mental Health Kathy Morelli