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Author: Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D.

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Posptartum Depression is real. And it's only part of the story. We dig in to ALL of the stuff that no tells you about, but you NEED to know. Dr. Kat, Psychologist and specialist in perinatal mental health, interviews moms, dads, experts and advocates about how to cope, manage and recover from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. We talk about postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and SO MUCH MORE! We get real. We get honest. We put on our stigma crushing boots and address the realities of the transition to motherhood and parenthood. Learn about it before you find out about it the hard way! You don't have to suffer!
172 Episodes
170: Infant Mental Health

170: Infant Mental Health


Perinatal mental health is the focus of many Mom & Mind episodes, but infant mental health is often overlooked in our discussions. It’s fascinating to see the intersection of infant mental health and perinatal health, and research shows that we need to consider how these two systems work together to bring mental health to both parents and their babies. We are jumping into this interesting topic with today’s guest. Meyleen Velasquez is a psychotherapist who specializes in infant and perinatal mental health. Her practice supports individuals identifying as women and clinicians working on practicing from an anti-oppressive framework. In today’s episode, we’ll talk about what infant mental health is and why it’s important to consider--along with perinatal mental health. Many moms worry about not doing the right thing for their child, so they fall into the traps of modern parenthood. Meyleen talks about the reality of parenthood, assuring you that you aren’t messing up your kids if you don’t attend to them ALL the time. Show Highlights: What infant mental health and why it’s important The intersection of infant mental health and perinatal mental health: infants need a caregiver to provide calming, soothing, focused attention, and the caregiver needs a safe space to express emotions Why there isn’t much focus on the crossover between infant mental health and perinatal mental health The need to share information with parents in the space of compassion and gentleness In the parent/child relationship, a basic need is that struggling parents need support Why an infant who doesn’t show a full range of emotions is cause for concern, but those emotions can’t be overinterpreted The need to be “good enough,” and look at parenting as a whole and not just what happened in one day Why parents need at least 30 min./day to take care of themselves The red flag of developmentally inappropriate regression in young children Overinterpretation vs. under interpretation Myths and misconceptions about infant mental health How we can help an infant learn to co-regulate Why parents need to take breaks to soothe themselves How babies respond differently in different settings and relationships Hopeful messages for parents: “Infants and young children are extremely resilient. If parents can get the support they need, then babies can bounce back. Nothing is a forever situation because we can be good enough and create healthy, thriving babies with relationships that we also enjoy.” Resources: Hummingbird Counseling Facebook: Hummingbird Counseling Zeroththree     
We talk about a lot of things that people don’t want to talk about or even hear. Still, they are very real, challenging, and difficult circumstances surrounding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. It’s important to share these stories because these difficulties become a reality for many people. Today’s show focuses on birth trauma and breastfeeding as we hear our guest’s personal account. Erin Northrup is a mom of four busy children, ranging in age from 2-10. She lives in Atlantic Canada, where she enjoys spending time in nature with her family. With the birth of her oldest child, Jack, she experienced birth trauma, and this experience sparked her passion for researching trauma. Erin holds a bachelor’s in Psychology and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Health Services Research. Her current research explores the experience of breastfeeding after birth trauma. Her own experience of breastfeeding after birth trauma inspired her to become a volunteer with a breastfeeding support organization offering community-based, peer to peer breastfeeding support. She is committed to raising awareness of the intersection of birth trauma, breastfeeding, and perinatal mental health. Show Highlights: Erin’s birth trauma experience with the birth of her son, Jack, now 10 How her Ob prepared her to have a C-section because of an ambiguous condition How Erin’s water broke a week early, and her spinal didn’t take, so the C-section proceeded under general anesthesia, while Erin felt dissociated from the entire experience In recovery, she was told that her son was taken to the NICU because of low blood sugar, and she couldn’t see him yet How Erin’s mom, a physician, stepped in to advocate for Erin to see her son While eating breakfast a few hours after the birth, Erin felt a popping sensation in her incision and felt a gush of blood Erin was rushed back to the OR, and the spinal worked this time while Erin cried on the table--all of this was before she had even held her baby How Erin was repeatedly spoken about like she wasn’t even in the room; she felt like her input wasn’t even important When Erin got home, survival mode kicked in, and she regretted not advocating more strongly for herself How Erin questioned whether or not her son was even the right baby, worrying that a mix-up could have occurred in the hospital because neither she nor her husband witnessed his birth How she determined to “make it up” to her son by breastfeeding him How the Ob told her at two months postpartum that her condition should not have warranted a C-section in the first place---which just made everything worse How Erin felt an erosion of trust in her doctors and the medical system How Erin asked where the growth and meaning was in her situation and how she could use her experience to help others Erin applied to a Master’s program and went on to have three more kids with positive birth experiences How Erin found support for breastfeeding What Erin has found in her research by asking mothers about their experience with birth trauma and breastfeeding The magnitude of the response she has received, but the difficulty in hearing the painful stories of birth trauma The results from Erin’s research: Birth trauma is destabilizing to the breastfeeding process because of the physical and emotional pain in childbirth and the postpartum from mistreatment The importance of trauma-informed care How women with these experiences feel like the trauma is somehow their fault What care providers should be aware of in their work Resources: Instagram: Live Learn Lactate  
We know that our body systems are complicated. There’s no way we can understand everything we need to know to have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum, but the more we know how the brain and body work together, the more prepared we can be. Today’s show focuses on the thyroid, the small--but mighty--organ that impacts fertility, loss, pregnancy, and postpartum. Dr. Hilary Mandzik is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Cary, NC. She also sees clients remotely throughout North Carolina and Virginia. Hilary holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from George Washington University and a Master’s in Education from Harvard. In addition, she has advanced clinical training in perinatal mental health. Hilary is passionate about supporting parents in their journey from conception and onward. She wants to help parents and children feel connected to each other and live their best lives as individuals and as a family unit. In today’s show, Hilary tells us about how her thyroid condition impacted her fertility journey. We’ll discuss other clinical aspects to consider concerning the thyroid, as well as what you need to know if you’re working toward pregnancy. You’ll learn that many people have thyroid conditions and don’t even know it. Show Highlights: Hilary’s personal story of two pregnancies and a missed miscarriage, which clued her in to possible thyroid issues How Hilary didn’t fit the typical thyroid symptom profile How Hilary’s midwife discovered her thyroid issues With research, Hilary discovered that thyroid imbalance is a well-known cause of miscarriage, infertility, anxiety, and depression Why TSH and other hormone levels should be checked routinely in pregnancy How Hilary changed doctors five times within the first six weeks of her third pregnancy, refusing to see a doctor who would dismiss her thyroid issues How pregnancy is a major trigger for autoimmune issues The big difference between normal and optimal in lab ranges How Hilary’s experience has changed how she views perinatal mental health The partnership Hilary feels with functional medicine practitioners How thyroid conditions are often overlooked What tests to ask for from your provider The important role of mental health clinicians to help address health issues and refer clients Why we should take care not to stereotype people with thyroid issues Hilary’s advice to those struggling to get pregnant: educate yourself, connect with doctors who listen to you, and advocate for yourself How the thyroid can impact other systems in the body How the support of a mental health clinician can help you cope How Hilary went on to have a healthy pregnancy after finding and treating her thyroid issues Resources: Hilary Mandzik Stop the Thyroid Madness book Stop the Thyroid Madness website Stop the Thyroid Madness 2 book Hangry book: 5 Simple Steps to Balance Your Hormones and Restore Your Joy (Including a Customizable Paleo/Mediterranean Plan!) The Sarah & Dr. Brooke Show podcast   The Autoimmune Solution book by Dr. Amy Myers The Root Cause book by Dr. Isabella Wentz The Hashimoto’s Protocol book by Dr. Isabella Wentz      
Welcome to a new year! This is a monumental year for me, as it marks ten years since I was pregnant with my daughter and experienced postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. I never dreamed back then that I would be where I am today, trying to help moms and families because of my personal mental health experience. In today’s show, I’ll reflect on those thoughts and feelings that were so overwhelming for me. Show Highlights: As I look back, it’s easier to have compassion and a lighter heart about my experiences than it was a few years ago My planned and wanted pregnancy was actually a break for me from the ups and downs of PMS How I realized with reflection that anxiety was present in my life even before my pregnancy How it felt like I had done something wrong when I experienced a bleeding episode during my pregnancy Why positive and negative experiences get woven together as you reflect on the past The shame and guilt that came with my mental health condition Because of our deepest vulnerabilities, we don’t want to feel our feelings or talk about them The shame, anger, and fear that make you feel alone How scary and intrusive thoughts become traumatizing Why good, specific therapy is crucial My favorite parts of therapy in helping moms realize they aren’t crazy Why I urge you to see a perinatal mental health specialist, join a support group, or find resources to get the help you need The year I spent in an emotional freak-out space, feeling broken and alone Finding a safe person to talk to who will understand Why I am 100% sure that you can get better, too Resources: Postpartum PSI Directory  
As we close out the year, I’m reflecting on my work over the past years. I’m struck by how incredibly strong you all are, and I mean every person who’s endured a perinatal mental health condition. Perinatal mental conditions are very difficult to encounter, and many people navigate their way through these experiences without any help at all. Show Highlights: Going through pregnancy or taking care of a newborn while experiencing a mental health condition is tough, much more so when you have to take care of the other elements of life Loneliness and confusion come with the suffering Worry about other children, finances, and jobs adds to the pressure There are incredible amounts of strength and resilience from people who keep fighting Just getting the sleep you need and getting the right medications can bring amazing hope and relief When the mind relaxes into a new sense of self, then the body relaxes, too It’s worth celebrating when you realize you don’t have to suffer for the rest of your life If you’ve experienced a perinatal mental health condition or a loss, I see you and honor you and respect you Moments of sadness are normal and dehumanizing, but you deserve compassion You are not alone There are many trained professionals who know how to help, so find them and take advantage of the available resources  
Do you find the holidays stressful? We would all have to say YES if we’re completely honest. For a pregnant mom, a postpartum mom, or a mom experiencing loss, the holiday obligations can be overwhelming in magnified ways. In today’s solo episode, we will discuss how to survive the holidays and manage stress by setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing self-care. Show Highlights: The holidays: a mix of lovely things and difficult moments with the unseen pressure of motherhood to take care of everyone Boundaries are not easy, and sometimes confusing, but necessary Set boundaries around family, friends, spending, activities, and the time you spend with others Don’t be afraid to communicate what your needs are In spending time at someone’s house, have a set time limit or some kind of communication with your partner to signal when it’s time to go To figure out where you need boundaries, ask yourself, “What brings me stress? What do I find difficult?” Why we feel guilty for setting boundaries How anger and resentment toward others will develop when we don’t set boundaries How pushback from someone else can signal the need for boundaries It’s OK when you need a time-out from the tension of social situations Important skills include knowing when to say NO and when to say YES Why you shouldn’t feel obligated to do things that aren’t good choices for you Allow flexibility and compassion in considering your needs How saying YES and NO protects against resentment building up in relationships Ask yourself what you need when you feel anger, guilt, anxiety, and sadness If sleep and self-care are not on your holiday list, then you will feel depleted Sleep is essential for health and restoration, but especially for pregnant moms, postpartum moms, and moms with loss Give yourself permission NOT to do everything Steps to take to manage stress: Think about times in the past when you’ve ignored your own needs Figure out where you can make adjustments Find places where you can say YES and set limits Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty Why your new holiday regimen should be ways to manage stress, keep your energy level, and feel like yourself What feels restorative, whole, and good to you? Set intentions for baths, yoga, solitary walks, connection time with a friend, alone time, or time with your partner  
We’re diving deep into acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. We’re talking specifically about how these treatments can be used in support of people dealing with reproductive health issues and mental health conditions. Abigail Morgan is a mother of two, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and a writer. She is board certified by the state of CA in traditional Chinese medicine and has an additional board certification from the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). She is the owner of FLOAT Chinese Medical Arts in Glendale, CA, an integrative private practice that focuses on reproductive health for all genders and all aspects of the childbearing cycle. Abigail is a passionate advocate for choices in childbirth, and she’s been helping families get pregnant, stay pregnant, and thrive as parents since 2006. She is currently writing a memoir about her experience with postpartum anxiety and her remarkable recovery from it. She’s partnered with a nutritionist to create a new podcast. In today’s episode, we discuss how acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine help with stress during pregnancy and the postpartum. There is a lot of information here for us to learn about these ways to promote healing. Show Highlights: Abigail’s work with clients in the childbearing cycle and all aspects of reproductive health How Abigail works in conjunction with many therapists about perinatal mental health Why stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia are common issues with Abigail’s clients What acupuncture is and how it works Common misperceptions about acupuncture and the needles used Benefits of acupuncture: regulates the nervous system, increases blood flow, and reduces blood pressure An interesting study from Georgetown in 2013 about how acupuncture works on a molecular level How we give and receive energy (qi) in our bodies How acupuncture specifically helps with nausea during pregnancy Why the common contributors to anxiety are exhaustion, poor nutrition, headaches, insomnia, and pain The importance of self-care How traditional Chinese medicine helps integrate the mind-body connection How Abigail does empathetic listening with her clients The supports that Abigail offers her clients for the early postpartum period Emotional and physical changes that happen in the early postpartum period How Abigail refers clients out to others who can help them Herbal medicines that nourish the blood and body Why isolation is the #1 risk factor for postpartum anxiety and depression How to find a licensed acupuncturist (visit A.B.O.R.M.) The podcast that Abigail co-hosts with nutritionist Gloria Williamson, “A Nutritionist and Acupuncturist Walk Into a Bar” Resources: Float Chinese Medical Arts Instagram: Mama Float Facebook: Float Chinese Medical Arts Podcast: Instagram: Nutrition Acu Podcast A.B.O.R.M.
Today’s show is a personal story of the darkness of postpartum depression and the healing that comes through professional help, self-awareness, and gentleness. The best part of my guest’s experience is the passion she’s gained for helping other moms reach through the darkness to the other side of hope and healing. Teresa Wong is a Canadian writer who has written the graphic memoir, Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, which was released last Spring. The book has already had a positive impact on the world and has been featured on NPR and Buzzfeed, as well as in the Paris Review and the NY Times. If you have experienced a perinatal mood and anxiety disorders or any complications related to pregnancy or postpartum, there is something in this graphic memoir that relates to your story. It also shows how culture plays a part in our experience. Through Teresa’s pain, there are beautiful parts interwoven into this story and her healing journey. Show Highlights: How the idea came to Teresa for writing Dear Scarlet when she was pregnant with her third child and needed closure for her postpartum depression experience Why Teresa decided to make it a graphic memoir with pictures Why it was important to Teresa to keep the book short and readable for moms who need to read it How Teresa handled the sketches and drawings for her book How Teresa sought help for postpartum depression when she knew things weren’t right The feelings of guilt, shame, and regret that Teresa experienced The major hemorrhage at Scarlet’s complicated Why Teresa didn’t know what was normal with the birth of Scarlet, her first baby How Teresa’s mom came to help when she got home after Scarlet’s birth, which is part of the Chinese culture How Teresa was diagnosed with postpartum depression at about six weeks and sought additional help from a psychiatrist for about nine months How Teresa hoped and prepared for a better experience with her second pregnancy by having a doula After her second child was born, Teresa went through postpartum depression again at about eight months Why Teresa was disappointed in herself because she had taken preventative measures, but she knows how to get help when she needed it Why Teresa did cognitive behavioral therapy instead of medication for the second time and then had no postpartum issues with her third pregnancy How Teresa’s healing journey has helped her in other ways, like being aware of her feelings and knowing how to handle them The positive reactions from readers of Teresa’s book Teresa’s hopeful messages: “Be gentle with yourself and talk to yourself like you would to a good friend whom you love. These feelings are normal, but you need to get help. You don’t have to live with postpartum depression and muddle through. Ask for help. Resources: By Teresa Wong Instagram: By Teresa Wong
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and we are trying to honor each and every one of those losses. Each one has brought significant pain to many people, including grief that is most difficult to acknowledge and navigate. Today’s show focuses on one such loss that has led to the creation of a specific kind of support for thousands. Lindsey Henke is the founder and Executive Director of Pregnancy After Loss Support. She is a clinical social worker specializing as a reproductive mental health therapist with a focus on the grief and trauma that happens after a perinatal loss and the pregnancy that follows. She is also a writer, wife, and, most importantly, a mother to two beautiful daughters and one sweet boy. Tragically, her oldest daughter, Nora, was stillborn after a healthy full-term pregnancy in December 2012. Lindsey’s second daughter, Zoe, was born healthy and alive in March of 2014. Her writing about life after loss has been featured in Listen to Your Mother, Scary Mommy, Healthline, and The New York Times. Lindsey has had the honor of speaking all over the world on the topic of pregnancy after a previous perinatal loss, including at the 2020 Moms’ Maternal Mental Health Forum 2015, Pregnancy and Infant Death Alliance 2016 Conference, Postpartum Support International 2019 Conference, The 2019 Stillbirth Summit, and at The International Women’s Maternal Mental Health 2019 Conference in Paris. She is currently working on her first book. Show Highlights: How and why Lindsey started Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS), an online support organization for the birth person who is experiencing pregnancy after loss How Lindsey had a stillborn daughter in 2012 after a full-term pregnancy---a devastating and heartbreaking experience How she relied on writing and psychotherapy to help her heal Lindsey’s second pregnancy with her daughter, Zoe, and how she made weekly posts as a blogger Lindsey found that there wasn’t a support space for those experiencing pregnancy after loss How the PALS group was formed and then blossomed into 15 groups for thousands of members How Lindsey digests the research in the field of pregnancy loss to meet the specific needs and wants of the community What’s unique about the experience of pregnancy after loss The insensitive comments that people make during a pregnancy after loss experience The amount of fear and anxiety that occur in pregnancy after loss The balance of grief, fear, and stress, along with joy and hope Knowing when the “expected anxiety” crosses over into the need to seek professional help Invalidating messages that may come from healthcare providers and family members The dance between choosing hope and holding onto fear The circles of grief and how we need to seek support The prevalence of postpartum depression and anxiety in subsequent pregnancies How friends and family can be supportive in validating the experience of the mother Why you should think about what you say and how you say it to someone who has had a pregnancy loss Other steps that family, friends, and healthcare providers can do to give additional support to moms with pregnancy after loss Resources: Pregnancy After Loss Support Facebook: Pregnancy After Loss Support Instagram Facebook: LindseyMHenke
Today’s show is another moving, personal story of the journey from pain to healing, and all that happens in the middle. My guest tells the story of how cultural challenges added yet another layer of complexity to her postpartum depression and anxiety experience. Esmeralda Cardenas is a bilingual Licensed Professional Counselor in San Antonio, Texas. She is the owner and provider at Pillars of Life Counseling. Besides being a mental health provider, Esmeralda is a wife and mother of two sons, ages 6 and 8, with both pregnancies bringing her postpartum depression and anxiety. After working with children in different settings for many years, Esmeralda became an advocate and provider for parents experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She realized that she needed to own her story and overcome the many fears that came with it. Taking this step has allowed Esmeralda to serve moms and dads in her community with an effort to decrease stigma and help parents know that they are not alone. Show Highlights: The issues Esmeralda faced as an undocumented immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico Her first pregnancy, with no complications until the C-section delivery How Esmeralda was triggered with anxiety, pressure, and judgment from others because of the cultural stigma attached to not having a “natural birth” The symptoms of anxiety and depression, along with the guilt and shame How the pressures of new motherhood and a therapy practice led to Esmeralda’s struggles with rage and intrusive thoughts Why Esmeralda was terrified to let anyone know how she really felt How she finally shared with her husband what was really going on with her With her second pregnancy, two years later, she was much more anxious, but going back to work helped with the depression How the feelings piled up on Esmeralda How Esmeralda dug deeper into grace in owning and sharing her story---and redefined herself The challenges of being a working mom AND a stay-at-home mom Esmeralda’s advice for other moms The evolution we go through to become a happier parent in a better place Why there is hope for everyone, and no mom is ever as alone as she might feel Resources: Pillars Of Life Counseling Instagram: polcounseling Facebook: Pillars of Life Counseling
Today’s show is a personal story of postpartum anxiety and depression that led to a voluntary psychiatric hospital evaluation. My guest will share how she got to that point, along with the signs and symptoms that went unnoticed for a long time. We will also hear about her journey to healing and how she’s helping other moms now. I believe that hearing the details in others’ experiences can help us recognize these signs in ourselves and our loved ones. Celeste Chapko lives with her husband and three children in Northwest Indiana. She is the founder of Childbirth Melodies (soon to be the Northwest Indiana Center for Maternal Wellness), offering individual and group peer support and music therapy to moms dealing with postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Celeste is a survivor of severe postpartum depression and anxiety and is passionate about supporting moms on their journey to wellness. She is also a volunteer state coordinator, online peer support group leader, and Climb Out of the Darkness leader for Postpartum Support International. Show Highlights: Celeste’s journey with postpartum anxiety and depression: she noticed rage and anxiety at seven months into her third pregnancy, but after the birth, she convinced herself that nothing was really wrong with her How intrusive thoughts convinced her that she needed help; her Ob prescribed Zoloft over the phone and Celeste began seeing a therapist How Celeste went through panic attacks and just “wasn’t functioning well with life” Why she called her husband one day to take her to the hospital’s psychiatric unit After five days in the psych unit, she left with four medications and a referral to see a psychiatrist The signs in Celeste’s first and second pregnancies that went unnoticed The guilt and shame that mother feel, which lead to increased anxiety Why Celeste refers to herself as “a recovering perfectionist” How Celeste’s anxiety and rage manifested themselves in her pregnancy with excessive worry and obsessive thoughts How Celeste knew she needed next-level care in the psych hospital The feelings of hopelessness with nowhere to turn The need for more perinatal psych units for moms How Celeste came into the work she does today on “the other side” How Celeste is more laid back, compassionate, and understanding to herself and others The potential for positive change with the right help and support How Celeste’s experience has changed how she is raising her children to know how to take care of themselves Celeste’s professional journey: music therapist, special education teacher, doula for music-assisted childbirth, and peer support group leader Celeste’s program, The SHARE Journey (Support, Hope, Assessment, Referral, and Education) and how it helps moms with peer support Celeste’s work with her Northwest Indiana Center for Maternal Wellness The difficult task of getting people connected to the resources they need Resources: Childbirth Melodies Facebook: Childbirth Melodies
Today’s show is an interesting look into how postpartum issues were dealt with, or not dealt with, in the past. We are looking from the perspective of a daughter who has been on a quest to discover the truth about her birth, her unusual childhood, and her mother’s illness. Nyna Giles is the author of The Bridesmaid’s Daughter, a deeply personal memoir about family, mental health, and revisiting the past. We’ll hear her perspective about growing up with a mother who had mental illness, and how she now knows that her mother had untreated postpartum psychosis. Back then, there was not much knowledge or support for mothers going through any perinatal crisis. We get to hear from Nyna’s perspective what it was like to grow up in that environment and what she reflected on as an adult that she shares through writing The Bridesmaid’s Daughter. Nyna is the youngest daughter of Carolyn Scott Reybold, a Ford model best known as one of Grace Kelly’s bridesmaids. Nyna has worked with leading media organizations and is the COO of Giles Communications. She’s an advocate for the mentally ill, traveling the globe to share her story, revealing the challenges brought on by her mother’s untreated mental illness and her own lost childhood and education. Nyna is a board member of NAMI Westchester and serves on the NAMI New York State Legislative Committee. She is also a volunteer with Postpartum Resource Center of NY. She lives in Westchester with her husband and has three children and three stepchildren. Show Highlights: How the book tells the story of Nyna’s mother’s untreated mental illness A summary of her mother’s glamorous life as a successful model in the 1940’s and 1950’s and best friend to Grace Kelly How her mother married, built a dream house on Long Island, and gave up her career to become a full-time mother to Nyna’s two older sisters How Nyna’s birth was traumatic because she was almost 11 lbs.! Her mother had to have her third C-section and a hysterectomy How Nyna’s father had an affair while she was an infant, and her mother had no family close by and no support Why Nyna had a lack of formal education, no friendships, and was trapped with her mother in a cycle of dysfunction The only diagnosis her mother ever received was paranoid schizophrenia in her 50’s How the change was evident in Nyna’s mom in pictures before and after Nyna’s birth As a child, Nyna never felt connected to or safe with her mom---even though she was with her all the time Nyna’s social anxiety as a teenager, and why she left home at age 14 Why mental illness was a topic that no one talked about back then Now Nyna’s father started staying away from home because he didn’t want to deal with his wife and her mental illness How Nyna’s mom gave away all her money and became homeless Why Nyna has to balance and limit the pain she feels from the past Nyna’s transition to motherhood with her three children Why Nyna felt compelled to get her school records What Nyna learned through her discovery in understanding her birth and what really happened to her mother The revelation Nyna learned about the sexual abuse of her mother by her stepfather How we can each help with mental health by engaging in real conversations Resources Mentioned: Find out more about the book and Nyna:  The Bridesmaid's Daughter Facebook: Nyna Giles Author Twitter: Nyna Giles Instagram: Nyna Giles Author
One aspect of postpartum depression and anxiety that doesn’t get much attention is the rage that comes along with these issues. People who experience this rage can feel overwhelmed and confused, and it can be a scary scenario. Today’s guest shares her story of how she came through postpartum depression, anxiety, and rage, and how she uses her healing process to help other moms today. Jen Gaskell is a quality professional who works full-time outside the home. She and her husband live near Milwaukee with their two daughters, ages 8 and 11. Jen used her writing and her blog to help navigate her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety. She was a former co-producer of Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee, where she was part of the inaugural Milwaukee cast telling her story of PPD. Jen has written for Postpartum Progress and was a member of their editorial team for three years. Jen was a Climb Out of the Darkness team leader for Milwaukee for four years. She helps lead a Facebook group of local moms who’ve been through postpartum mood disorders and recently became a PSI helpline volunteer. Show Highlights: How Jen struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety following the birth of her youngest child When she didn’t know who or where to turn to, she turned to Google to research her symptoms How she knew she needed to see someone but was afraid of having her kids taken away How Jen found a therapist and was able to get help quickly The signs in the beginning that told Jen that something was wrong The pressure Jen put on herself because of gestational diabetes and the details of managing the risks How her anxiety turned to irritability during her pregnancy and then spiraled into rage in the postpartum The feelings of irritability and rage that Jen noticed The key indicators that something was wrong How Jen learned about her triggers and when to take a break The guilt Jen felt for needing a break from her kids The internal pressure to be “on top of things” all the time How Jen learned to cope, especially journaling and learning to give herself grace How hard struggling moms work not to let others know the truth of how they feel How Jen became comfortable in sharing her story to help others The importance of normalizing the therapy process and the steps to get better Jen’s hopeful message to other moms: “It’s not you. Those negative thoughts are not who you are. There is so much support available, so reach out. This is a common condition, and it’s treatable. It won’t be like this forever.” Resources: Tranquila Mama Twitter and Instagram: @jenrenpody Facebook: Tranquila Mama Blog Listen To Your Mother on YouTube
Today’s show is a fascinating discussion about the law and postpartum psychosis. My guests helped usher a new law through the Illinois legislature, and the bill became law in January 2018. It’s the first criminal law in the nation to recognize the effects of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, so we’re digging into what it took to get the legislation passed and what steps you can take to get the law changed in your state. Dr. Susan Feingold is a licensed clinical psychologist, perinatal legal advocate, and author. She’s a member of the President’s Advisory Council and Postpartum Psychosis Task Force for Postpartum Support International. Susan wrote Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders, and has specialized for over 26 years in women’s mental health issues related to reproduction. She’s an advocate and expert witness involved in legislative efforts for women with postpartum depression on the state and national level and served as the President of the Board of Trustees for Depression After Delivery, Inc. Along with Barry Lewis, Susan won the 2018 Maternal Mental Health Innovation Award in Policy and Advocacy; she also won the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award for her work in perinatal issues and women’s mental health. Barry Lewis is a litigation attorney with over 44 years in the private practice of law, primarily in the area of criminal law. He’s the past chair of the Chicago Bar Association Lawyer Referral Committee, winner of an award from Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, and has been a continuing legal education lecturer. His most recent published work was in The Champion, the magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and was titled A New Model of Law Offers Hope: Postpartum Disorders and the Law. Barry and Susan have a book coming in January 2020: Advocating for Women with Mental Illness: Changing the Law and Transforming the National Climate. The book covers why the law needs to be changed and the steps we can take to make it happen! Show Highlights: Why Susan and Barry are busy working on their new book due out in January One purpose of the book is to motivate others to help change laws in their states How a small group of people was able to make a change in the Illinois law How the change process began with two incarcerated women in Illinois who were serving 30-year and 33-year prison sentences How the new law recognizes postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis as mitigating factors in sentencing when women commit crimes while suffering The long process in getting legislation passed The typical charges in infanticide or postpartum psychosis/depression cases and the shortcomings of the law in dealing with them The difficulty for defense attorneys in making an insanity plea The arbitrary aspect of sentencing from state to state and case to case because there are not sufficient laws The magnitude of women who could be supported and helped with new, sweeping legislation The steps that need to be taken in treatment and sentencing for incarcerated women suffering from postpartum depression/psychosis Why these women benefit from being declared unfit for trial What people can do to start the change process in other states: Find the legislation schedule Look for a sponsor in the House or Senate Take an advocate training session How infanticide laws differ in England, Scotland, and Wales The important first step: eliminate mandatory minimum sentences Why unique conditions call for unique laws How the new Illinois law has opened the door for other legislation The development model to follow in dealing with these issues inhumane ways: Identify the problem Write the law clearly Document the need for new laws Attract a sponsor Convince legislators to act Examples of appropriate sentencing Resources: Websites:  Dr. Susan Feingold   and   Barry Lewis Law Email:  and
If you’ve ever had to be on bed rest during pregnancy, then you know it’s not as simple as it sounds. It takes intention to get through it with your mental health intact. Today’s guest, Jessica Vanderwier was on bed rest and she’s here to share how this experience impacted her, along with her best advice about how we can better support moms on bed rest. Jessica Vanderwier is a registered psychotherapist from Guelph, Ontario, who is passionate about supporting families. She is known online for Our Mama Village, a platform where she shares daily pieces of encouragement and support for moms and families. Jessica started this page after she went through a difficult transition into motherhood, and saw the need for a supportive community that moms would access anytime they needed. In her therapy work, Jessica supports families from preconception to working with children with mental health concerns. In her private life, Jessica loves her role as a mom and wife and spends her time with her husband and two-year-old daughter. Show Highlights: Jessica’s pregnancy: started normally, even though she was still working 40-50 hours/week At 20 weeks, cramping began, and she felt terrible after overdoing it planning a Christmas party, so she headed to the hospital to get checked The first clue that something serious was wrong at the hospital was the way the nurses kept repeating internal exams and ultrasounds--with no explanation why The nurse insisted that Jessica get in a wheelchair, so panic set in, with still no reason for the concern The diagnosis was incompetent cervix, preterm labor, and early dilation; the on-call Ob said the next step was bed rest to take the pressure off her cervix Jessica’s instructions were to be on the couch or in bed with her feet up all day, only getting up for brief bathroom breaks Why it was a difficult mental adjustment to have no work and no purpose other than to rest all-day How Jessica tried to keep a schedule each day in moving from bed to the couch, reading, books, and even taking an online course When she reached 34 weeks, her restrictions became a little more flexible; she was allowed to do dishes and ride in the car with her husband Her full-term birth was an answer to prayer, but then she entered a postpartum time of anxiety How she navigated life after bed rest How she felt like those who had helped her during the bed rest were burned out, so she didn’t ask for postpartum help At four months postpartum, Jessica decided to ask for help The frustration when the doctor discounts your postpartum feelings of anxiety and depression How this frustration fuels Jessica’s work today with moms How she got sleep, help with childcare, and therapy to feel better How Jessica looked for ways to help other moms Our Mama Village began as a Facebook page where moms could go for hope and encouragement and know they aren’t alone Why Our Mama Village has grown because the need is great and the message needs to get out to moms Jessica’s advice to others on bed rest: Be gentle with yourself Find something that gives purpose and meaning to each ay Find ways to talk and connect with your baby Schedule each day so they don’t roll along indefinitely Have something each week to look forward to Seek professional support, even if it’s online therapy Jessica’s online course (coming soon) with effective tools for dealing with anxiety and simple strategies to help moms enjoy motherhood Resources: Our Mama Village Instagram: Our Mama Village Facebook: Our Mama Village
Dealing with perinatal mental health issues is a difficult enough task, but the problem is compounded for Muslim women living in the US. My guest today helps us understand the issues and how we can best support these moms. Dr. Venus Mahmoodi specializes in trauma and reproductive mental health. More specifically, in today’s show, she’ll tell us about perinatal mental health for Muslim women, including the rates of depression for the Muslim community in the US, what makes them particularly vulnerable to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and how we can support Muslim women in a culturally competent way. Dr. Mahmoodi completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University in California, with an emphasis on women’s neuroscience and health through collaboration with Stanford University. Her clinical training included working with refugees and torture survivors, veterans, and perinatal women in a specialized, intensive outpatient program. Her dissertation focused on the perinatal experience of Muslim women living in the US, including the protective aspects of Islamic practice during and after pregnancy against depressive symptoms. Dr. Mahmoodi completed specialized training through Postpartum Support International, and advanced specialized training in grief/loss and distress related to infertility at the Seleni Institute in NY. She now cares for individuals and couples at the Seleni Institute, which focuses on perinatal mental health as well as the Haleel Center, which focuses on the mental well-being of Muslims. Show Highlights: Why the percentages of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders increase for women of color, including Muslim women (up to 28%), but there are lower levels of support, services, and resources How culture and religion play huge roles in the Muslim population The unique challenges for Muslim women, including issues with their country of origin, because their practices will differ from those in other countries The far-reaching effects of Islam in countries around the world, with Indonesia and South Asia having the largest numbers The misconceptions that Muslims only come from Middle Eastern countries How the two sects of Muslims differ in how their religion is practiced and expectations for pregnancy and postpartum Societal pressure and family pressure within the Muslim community How family traditions in pregnancy and postpartum can lead to stress and anxiety for moms Religious practice and prayer restrictions in the Muslim community Other coping strategies that Muslim women can use when they are restricted from prayers Feelings of inadequacy for the Muslim mother How The Haleel Center finds ways to incorporate religious thought and women’s expectations Vulnerabilities for Muslim women in gender roles and stigmas for patriarchal societies Strengths for Muslim women in that religion protects them against mental illness, helps them cope with and manage stress, and gives them a sense of connection to God How we can support Muslim women in culturally competent ways by being curious and avoiding assumptions Join our Patreon today and support this Podcast: Patreon: Mom And Mind Our listeners get a 10% discount on Ritual Vitamins for your first three months! Ritual Mom And Mind Resources: Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions Edited by Sameera Ahmed and Mona M. Amer
Everyone eagerly anticipates becoming a grandparent, right? Think again. There are various reasons why you might be apprehensive about achieving this milestone in life. The truth is that it’s not socially acceptable to admit these feelings. People may shrink away in horror if you dare to confess being hesitant about what you are supposed to embrace with unbridled joy. In today’s show, we are diving deeper into this hush-hush topic. Dr. Shoshana Bennett was the very first guest on the podcast for Episodes 1 & 2. She very graciously came on when I was new at this, and she tolerated my fumbling around and my poor sound quality, too! I’m so grateful to have her back as the first guest to kick off the 3rd year of the Mom & Mind podcast. This time, she’s bringing the perspective of being a new grandmother with her own history of postpartum mental health challenges. This is such a necessary conversation, especially as the field of perinatal mental health grows, and we are recognizing and treating the conditions more. As those mothers develop into grandmothers, this will be something to consider for that time of life. Affectionately known as “Dr. Shosh,” she educates, engages, and empowers her audiences while discussing serious and often uncomfortable topics using humor, the latest research, solution-based protocols, and firsthand knowledge she gleaned after experiencing life-threatening postpartum depression. After two life-threatening bouts of postpartum illness, Dr. Shosh helped pioneer the field of maternal mental health. She founded Postpartum Assistance for Mothers in 1987, became president of California’s state organization, Postpartum Health Alliance, and then served as president of Postpartum Support International. She is the author of Children of the Depressed, Postpartum Depression for Dummies, Pregnant on Prozac, and is the co-author of Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression & Anxiety. She is an executive producer of the documentary, Dark Side of the Full Moon, and co-founded the Postpartum Action Institute. To date, Dr. Shosh has helped over 20,000 women around the world recover through private consultations, teleclasses, and support groups. At the time of this interview, Dr. Shosh wasn’t a grandmother yet but became one on June 5. In spite of anxiety and scary thoughts, she’s been able to enjoy her grandson and watch her daughter have a totally different postpartum experience than she did. Show Highlights: Shosh reads her recent article, “Scared to be a Grandma” What she heard when she submitted this article to various publications How Dr. Shosh is breaking ground in the field of reluctant grandparenting, just as she did with perinatal mental health back in the 1990s The difficulty in understanding that a grandmother may be apprehensive The fascinating feelings in the grandparent experience Why Dr. Shosh has been getting therapy support in preparing for her grandchild Embracing the whole journey to grandparenthood Finding ourselves and identifying what needs to unfold to deal with our feelings The importance of starting the conversation and being honest without judgment Maintaining the connection between parents and new grandparents Shosh wants to hear your comments, questions, and thoughts! See her contact info below! Resources: Dr. Shosh Email: Dr. Shosh’s books: Children of the Depressed Postpartum Depression for Dummies Pregnant on Prozac and Beyond the Blues
Today’s show is a bonus episode as we celebrate our 3rd anniversary! It’s been an adventure and a learning process along the way. I’ll admit that I had no clue what I was doing when we started, or what was involved in doing a podcast, but I knew we needed to get information and resources out there to moms and families. So now, after 152 episodes, I’m proud of how far we’ve come on the journey---and we’ll keep going to get the word out to even more moms and families in the future! Show Highlights: The incredible details of the podcast’s reach: we’ve had 240,000 downloads in over 75 countries! The facts that show the need: 20% of new parents will experience perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, so we still have a lot of work to do How I got started without knowing anything about podcasting The rewarding feeling from the feedback, knowing the show has helped listeners The benefit in sitting and sharing with each other The intensity of our heavy topics and episodes Why I don’t want anyone to feel alone in this struggle The expenses involved to keep the show going, along with our new fundraising efforts Information about the new Monthly Mom and Mind Collaborative Resources: Patreon for Mom & Mind Podcast
I first heard today’s guest when she appeared on Rebecca Scritchfield’s Body Kindness podcast, and I couldn’t wait to get her on the show! We’re talking about body image in the perinatal period and why we should be talking more about it. We’ll discuss her research, the roles of self-compassion and mindfulness, and some wonderfully helpful resources. Dr. Jennifer WEbb is an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Science and a core member of the Health Psychology Ph.D. program clinical faculty at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She received her baccalaureate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience from Harvard, went on to complete her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychologist at the University of Southern California, and did her postdoctoral fellowship training in Clinical Health Psychology at Duke Integrative Medicine. Her research program is informed in culturally and body diverse groups. Her particular emphasis involves the enhancing of the integration, dissemination, and accessibility of evidence-based, mind-body approaches to strengthen embodied self-regulation, positive body image, and wellbeing among women during the developmental transitions of young adulthood, pregnancy, and the postpartum. Show Highlights: How researchers are playing “catch up” in the field of body image and how it’s affected by mood and anxiety during milestone periods How negative body image 3 months postpartum and during pregnancy can increase the chances and severity of depressive symptoms later on The definition of body image: how we think and feel about our bodies, how they move, and how they function The impact of sociocultural pressures and the media and social media messages that we get during pregnancy and postpartum times Western notions of what pregnancy and postpartum body should look like: a narrow portrayal, thin ideal, and a constrained approach Why we need more cross-cultural research across diverse groups of women Obsessiveness around body image can even come from well-meaning healthcare providers The concepts of body surveillance and disordered eating The importance and impact of conversations with healthcare providers, which offer a huge opportunity to help with the reframing process A “health at every size” perspective and non-dieting, weight-neutral understanding Fighting against the “get your body back” messages that our society gives women during the postpartum How researchers define the elements of positive body image: Appreciating and accepting the body as it is Respecting the body through active self-care Protecting the body from negative messages What it means to show acceptance to ourselves and our bodies as we go through changes Lisa Rubin’s research on women during pregnancy and how appreciation for our bodies can help during pregnancy and postpartum and become a lifestyle commitment How mind-body practices can help How Jennifer’s research suggests that mindful self-care was negatively related to negative body image and depressive symptoms in a sample of women Other ways to support women: intervention work, collaboration, guided self-help, and a focus on wellbeing and not diet culture Resources: Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield Breathe, Mama, Breathe by Shonda Moralis Mindful Motherhood by Cassandra Vieten Books by Dr. Marjit I. Berman Expecting Mindfully by Sharon Salzberg, Sherryl H. Goodman, and Sona Dimidjian Body Confident Mums`
As we approach the 3rd anniversary of the podcast in June, I’ve been doing lots of reflection about the journey we’ve taken and what we’ve accomplished. Your feedback has been vital in letting me know that the show has a positive impact and is meaningful to many people. The underlying message in everything we do is that no one is alone on their parenthood journey---and that message will continue. Show Highlights: How the podcast was born out of my suffering and healing process with postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD The reality: no one is immune from these postpartum problems---even a therapist like me Why normalizing postpartum mental health issues is important for every mom and dad How depression and anxiety lie to us in sneaky ways How you’ll try to bargain with yourself, convince yourself that nothing is wrong, and blame other stressors in your life Why depression screening questionnaires don't’ always work, because we often refuse to come to terms with our condition How a connection to others with the same experience gives relief and validation How the healing process occurs over time How therapy, self-care, and connection to others can bring healing How I can look back now and see the risk factors that I overlooked What I would have done differently to prioritize my sleep The importance of prevention information to help prepare and educate new parents What’s coming up in June for the show: a slight change in format Resources: Email us:   I’d love to hear from you!
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