Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

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

Phone/Email List

  • 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.

Sleep?

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.

Visitors?

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

#PPDCHAT

BirthTouch, LLC

Organization of Teratogen Information Specialists

Befrienders Worldwide

Lotsa Helping Hands

Helpful Mom to Mom Blogs – Add More in the Comments!

My Postpartum Voice

Ivy’s PPD Blog

12 Comments

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 4, 2012 07:00 AM by Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D.
Kathy, Again, this is such an important area. I work with and support moms that have struggled with PPMAD--and all too often, they didn't feel as though they got front-line support for those issues from their birth professionals. This series has helped me understand that many birth professionals may be concerned with overstepping their areas of practice. I think that you have done a wonderful job of framing this in a way that any caring professional, regardless of specialty, can provide initial support during this critical time. Thanks for an important post.

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 4, 2012 07:00 AM by The Mommy Psychologist
Thanks for this article. As a child psychologist and a mom myself, it did an excellent job examining the issue from all angles. I like how you made sure to bring up alternate therapies such as the mind/body connection. These are so often overlooked, but are beginning to demonstrate some really solid evidence of their success. I talked about the importance of seeking help here for anyone interested: http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/03/28/is-it-baby-blues-or-postpartum-depression/

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 4, 2012 07:00 AM by @yaelsaar
I love this practical yet so well rounded approach, thank you for this. I'd like to add my website to the resources mentioned here: www.ppdtojoy.com where I share insights and stories from my journey and from other moms from around the world. And especially the Facebook refueling station for moms: Mama's Comfort Camp. Kathy, and your readers, please consider yourself warmly invited to join us: http://www.ppdtojoy.com/blog/mamas-comfort-camp-fb/

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 6, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
@The Mommy Psychologist Hi Ms Mommy Psychologist! Thanks for your positive input, it means alot! I try to be evidence-based and inclusive, don't always hit the mark, but I try! Thanks for sharing your resource, I appreciate that you say, dont worry abt labelling your experience, just take care of yourself and seek help in your own way. take care, Kathy

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 6, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
@@yaelsaar Hi Yael - Thanks so much for bringing forth your site and resources, much appreciated. Movement & yoga can be helpful to many people who are struggling with depression. With clinical depression, it is an adjunctive therapy. Although many of my clients who are clinically depressed or who are sometimes physically compromised and cannot use psychotrophic meds, choose to use layers of complementary therapy, in addition to talk therapy. It is a highly individualized choice.

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 6, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
@Ann Becker-Schutte, Ph.D. Hi Ann - I appreciate your kind words. I'm glad I could help talk about the overlapping of "boundaries" when caring for a woman and her family in the perinatal period. I think birth professionals want to help, but sometimes hesitate to overstep their training, or just dont want to be pushy.

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 7, 2012 07:00 AM by TheRedheadRiter
Thank you Kathy for including my community in your post. Women need a soft place to fall and I feel very lucky to have a beautiful group of women that support each other in my community. "There is no shame asking for help and getting treatment." YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN! Why should there be shame? It totally baffles me that society finds getting help for the mind a shameful thing. Bah! There isn't any shame at all. It is wonderful to have people to also help heal the wounds of the mind. The brain is an organ too! Talk, talk, talk and more talk with people who are trained and people who care can do so much good. Thank you for your very thoughtful post filled with wisdom. {{{hugggsss}}}

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 7, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
Hi Red - Thanks for stopping by! I enjoy your BlogFrog community so much myself, there are such nice women there! And your own story, your personal struggle to heal from PTSD, which you have mad very public, is inspiring. You help those who need treatment. thanks, Kathy

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 7, 2012 07:00 AM by Dagmar ~ Dagmar's momsense
Thanks, Kathy, for mentioning my blog as a resource! I love helping moms who struggle with motherhood. It's so important to have a good support system and free resources.

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 8, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
Hi Dagmar - I enjoy your blog and your community very much, and I have been following you for years. It is great to have such an outspoken advocate of moms & babies and baby-friendly practices. take care, Kathy c

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 9, 2012 07:00 AM by Carolyn Stone
Hi Kathy, This is such helpful information. I think it would be so helpful for families as a whole to have a postpartum plan. Your ideas are so practical and could help some women avoid postpartum depression. But, as you say, if it does happen, it's no one's fault, and professional help is needed and available. Thanks for your work in educating professionals and mothers. Carolyn

Part Three: Positive Actions & Words that Heal: Perinatal Mental Illness for Birth Professionals

May 9, 2012 07:00 AM by Kathy Morelli
@Carolyn Stone Hi Carolyn - Thanks so much for your comments. There are several practitioners in perinatal mental health who proposed the idea of a Postpartum plan, Karen Kleimand Lucy Puryear come to mind. I think that if childbirth educators, doulas, midwives and obs include this as a routine part of their care of women, it would mitigate alot of situations. But even with preventative measures, as you said, postpartum depression can happen. thanks for your thoughts, Kathy

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