May 25, 2022
Series: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators - PMADs Check Ins are Key
By: Sharon Muza, BS, CD/BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, CLE | 0 Comments
This month’s Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators recognizes that May is Maternal Mental Health Month. A simple activity that encourages pregnant and new parents to reach out for support when they are experiencing some emotional bumps in the road. You can find all the Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators posts here at this link for free.
Having a baby is a time of great change and transition, regardless if this is the first baby or a subsequent child joining a growing family. There are peaks and valleys, both emotionally and physically as a result of the process of growing, birthing and parenting a newborn. Some people weather these changes with minimal disruptions and are able to stay grounded through a challenging process with few longer lasting concerns. Other people struggle and experience a more difficult transition that can impact their own mental and physical health and affect their ability to be present and parent their baby effectively. One in five pregnant people deal with a perinata mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) and one in seven people struggle after birth. There are many risk factors for a perinatal mood disorder including a traumatic birth, a history of infertility and loss, prior mental health challenges in themselves or in family members, , having a history of sexual abuse, sole parenting, financial instability and more. Discussing PMADs and providing resources to families is a key component of a thorough childbirth class. This activity offers parents an opportunity to create a dedicated reminder to check in with their mental health during the childbearing year. It can be done both for in person and virtual classes
For the instructor
For the parents
- An app on a smartphone that allows people to schedule a task or reminder in the future or a paper calendar if that is typically used in their home
When to do this activity
Perinatal mood disorders should be spiraled through a good childbirth education curriculum, because both pregnant and postpartum parents (and partners) can be suffering from depression or anxiety. Bringing up the topic early helps those who have not yet given birth have resources and then this activity can be conducted when you are talking about the postpartum transitions,
How long does this activity take
This activity takes about 5 minutes
How to conduct this activity
After you have covered and normalized the challenges of the postpartum period, invite parents to take out their phone (or paper calendar) and schedule a weekly recurring task or reminder to take a quick evidence based PMAD screening test (see above links). This should start now, and not after the baby is born. The reminder can say something like “My mental health check in” or whatever feels right to each person. Some parents even choose something like “This is hard, how am I doing?” or other casual statement. Have them include the link to the screening tool for quick and easy access. This task can roll on automatically through the first year as that is when the occurrences are highest. Task both parents with scheduling this event and also checking in on the other person, since either parent can be impacted.
How you could modify this activity
Educators can and should provide resources and support for non-English speakers who may need to talk to a professional. Include this information if your families speak other languages. Alternately, you could schedule and send reminders via email on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to class members who opt in to receiving this communication.
What families say about this activity
Families share that the day to day responsibilities of having a new baby make it hard to put their mental health first, but recognize the frequency of PMADS. They report that having a regular reminder helps them to know that a check in is important and that they can refer to the resources their educator provided to get help if needed. They say that this normalizes the potential challenges that may arise.
Perinatal mood disorders make moving through pregnancy and the postpartum period exponentially more difficult and challenging. Having a reminder and resources regularly available on an individual level for every parent can help them to seek help sooner rather than later and get support to return to a stable place where they can be their best parenting self. Childbirth educators are an invaluable resource for helping parents to be aware that they do not have to suffer alone.
TagsChildbirth education Perinatal Mood Disorders Screening For Postpartum Depression PMAD Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Series: Brilliant Activities For Birth Educators Sharon Muza PMADs Virtual Childbirth Classes Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Tool Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder