How to Screen Yourself for Postpartum Depression

May is Mental Health Month. As childbirth education advocates, Lamaze believes that mental health during and after pregnancy is critical to the health and safety of moms and their babies. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, psychosis, or any other mental health issues, contact your care provider and seek support and resources from Postpartum Progress and Postpartum Support International. You don’t have to suffer alone — and you don’t have to suffer. There is support and treatment available for mental health disorders. Also know that you are not alone — it has been found that 1 in 7 women will experience postpartum depression, though that rate is thought to be higher for all postpartum disorders.

So how do you know if you are experiencing a postpartum disorder? Many moms downplay or dismiss their feelings, chalking them up to “hormones,” but it’s important to take notice and check in with yourself. A postpartum disorder is more than just a “bad day,” and even if you feel as though you are coping, a postpartum disorder ultimately affects your quality of life. If you feel as though something is “off” or if your partner expresses concern about your state of well-being, you can take a free, quick, confidential, online screening quiz to determine whether you may be suffering from postpartum depression.

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EDPS) was developed in 1987 to help doctors determine whether a mother may be suffering from postpartum depression. The scale has since been validated, and evidence from a number of research studies has confirmed the tool to be both reliable and sensitive in detecting depression. The EPDS Score is designed to assist — not replace — clinical judgment. If you feel you may be at risk or suffering from post natal depression, please share the results with your care provider.

A Voice of Strength I Didn’t Know I Possessed: Part II of An Interview with Ivy Shih Leung

A Voice of Strength I Didn’t Know I Possessed: An Interview with Ivy Shih Leung, author of “One Mom’s Journey to Motherhood: Infertility, Childbirth Complications, and Postpartum Depression, Oh My!”

 

In this second part of my interview with Ivy, she shares insight into her Chinese culture and pregnancy and postpartum. Secondly, she delves into her experience with infertility and complications during pregnancy. Finally, Ivy shares wonderful thoughts as to how writing, blogging, and communication can help to end stigma about PPD and create the causes for healing. You can read the first part of our interview here.

 

How has culture affected your writing about your experience?

I don’t feel that my culture really affected my writing about my PPD experience.  Though, I have to say that I am one of the few Asian bloggers I’m aware of.  Unlike most of my Asian friends and acquaintances, I am very outspoken and opinionated.  The Chinese tend to keep their emotions bottled up and thoughts and experiences to themselves.  In general, they are a very proud people.  Everything is pretty much about “saving face,” which means not putting oneself out there when it comes to personal experiences, especially if there is anything in the least bit negative.  As we know from the Western culture, pregnancy and motherhood are supposed to be blissful experiences.  I, on the other hand, have a book that shares ALL my thoughts and experiences while suffering from PPD.  It’s a fairly big deal for any woman to share her PPD story, let alone publish a book about it.  It’s an even bigger deal for a Chinese woman to do either.  

 

What would you like mainstream culture to know about your culture regarding pregnancy and postpartum?

Although I am Chinese and even speak Mandarin fluently, I was born and raised here in the U.S.  As a result, I am very Westernized and do not observe many of the traditions my parents and the generations before them may have observed.  Actually, my mother gave birth here and was not privy to the custom of Zou Yue.  She gave birth in a foreign country with no loved ones around her.  She received less help with taking care of me when I was a newborn than I had when I had my own daughter.  At least when I had my daughter, my husband helped, and my mother and mother-in-law each stayed a week to help. 

Zou Yue is like some of the other mother-nurturing customs observed by other cultures (la cuarentena in Mexico, sarantisma in Greece, Jaappa in India) in terms of observing a 30 or 40 day period of taking care of the mother, so she can take care of her baby and get adequate sleep to recover from childbirth.  Forty seems to be a magical number, a number that has survived through the centuries and therefore has special significance….no doubt it has something to do with the fact that 40 days is the average length of time for a new mother’s body to recover from childbirth and return to a pre-pregnant state.  It’s also why an OB/GYN will tell the new mother, once she’s given birth, that he will see her in 6 weeks.  Each of these traditions involves female family members and friends of the new mother providing her and her baby with care, so that the new mother’s only focus is on getting rest and bonding with/feeding her baby.  They also help around the house and prepare meals.  Certain rituals are observed in which food is prepared a certain way to help keep her body/system warm. She is protected from feeling overwhelmed; hence, visitors are kept away (or kept at a very minimum) during this time. She is told to avoid bathing for fear of catching cold.  All these rituals have the mother’s well-being in mind.  In terms of breastfeeding, female family members are on hand to teach her how to do it. In these other cultures, there is no expectation that the new mother know how to breastfeed instinctively and easily.  There is a reason behind the phrase “it takes a village.”

I have blogged about the importance of social support and how, through the years, we seem to have lost perspective on things when it comes to the community coming together to help a new mother who has just had a baby.   Getting adequate social support—comprised of both emotional support (e.g., shoulder to cry on, listening non-judgmentally) and practical support (e.g., help with breastfeeding, cleaning, errands, laundry, taking care of the baby for a few hours so mom can take a nap or shower) is critical for new moms. Having enough support during the first 4-6 weeks—until a new mom’s body recovers from childbirth and her hormone levels return to their pre-pregnancy state—can help keep anxiety levels down, help her get the rest she needs from all the changes her body has gone through with childbirth.

 

When you were pregnant, how was your culture addressed by care providers in ways that were helpful? And what about during your recovery from PPD?

I don’t remember if my OB/GYN and hospital staff asked me any questions, either orally or via a written questionnaire, as to whether I had any cultural preferences that needed to be taken into consideration during or after childbirth.  There definitely was no attempt on the part of my OB/GYN to ask me if I had any preferences for the duration of my pregnancy.  Fortunately, I didn’t have any preferences, anyway.  I just wanted to be treated with respect and care, both of which my doctor ended up failing at. Now, in terms of the GP who treated me during my PPD, he was the ultimate example of a doctor with extremely poor bedside manner.  The way I was treated by him and my OB/GYN angered me so much that I wrote them both letters during my recovery from PPD, telling them that their treatment of me aggravated my already extremely painful experience, they should get with the program when it comes to PPD, and I was dropping them and moving on to doctors who didn’t lack bedside manner the way they did.

 

Infertility and Complications

Can you share a little about your experiences with both?

Without getting into the details as covered in my book about my infertility experience and childbirth complications, I’ll just say that, like more and more women these days, I got married late (at age 36 ), had a dermoid cyst removed a year later to increase the likelihood of getting pregnant and not having it get in the way of a developing fetus, tried to conceive naturally for over a year before being referred to an IVF center where we failed our first cycle (it was such less than optimal experience mostly because the staff and environmental overall were cold and disorganized), and got pregnant successfully via my 2nd IVF cycle at a different center.  What started off as 2 fetuses became only one after a car accident I had about 2 months into the pregnancy.  Other than nausea that lasted my entire pregnancy, some spotting, and overall anxiety that I would carry to term, my pregnancy went well.  I delivered vaginally (with an epidural and episiotomy), but ended up having my uterus removed 3 days afterwards due to placenta accreta.  During my entire 7-day stay, I was constantly woken up for blood work and extremely exhausted as a result.  On top of that, I was starved for nearly the whole time I was there.  Due to my surgical procedure, I was kept in an entirely different wing from my daughter for over a day, and whenever I called for a nurse, no one came.  Some nurses were not nice to me at all.  It was like a living hell for me most of the time I was in the hospital.  To get the full details of my infertility, childbirth complications, and PPD experiences, you can read my book. 

 

How can your experience help the readers of Giving Birth with Confidence?

My hope is that those who read about my experience in my book—which covers a lot, including key statistics and information on the biopsychosocial factors behind PPD (infertility and childbirth complications are risk factors)—will become more knowledgeable about perinatal mood disorders.  I hope that they will also read the growing numbers of blogs of mothers who are speaking up about their struggles with perinatal mood disorders.  Why?  Well, knowledge is power.  With more knowledge, there would be less ignorance and stigma, and motherhood myths will have less of a negative impact on mothers than they do today. I want to see fewer mothers being caught off guard and not knowing what is happening to them, should PPD strike.  Being ignorant and unprepared for it causes unnecessary fear, anxiety, guilt, and inability to appreciate one’s baby. For example, insomnia after the third week postpartum is a common first symptom of PPD. 

My blog is hit numerous times each day via Google and other search engines using words like “postpartum insomnia,” “new mom insomnia,” “insomnia four weeks after childbirth,” “can’t sleep when the baby sleeps,” “can’t sleep six weeks postpartum,” and so on, which means that there are many moms out there who are going through what I went through, in terms of insomnia as a symptom of PPD, beginning at around 40 days.  That’s right, there’s that magical number again!  Had I known about PPD before my daughter was born, I would not have been as scared as I was as to why I had insomnia and couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted beyond words and even during the times she slept. My fear would not have escalated to full-blown anxiety attacks. I would’ve recognized other symptoms like loss of appetite (I lost so much weight so fast that within a couple of weeks I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant!). As soon as I started to have insomnia, instead of merely taking the Ambien prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve immediately known to question it as a sign of PPD and gotten the right treatment then.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20….

 

I would like to thank Ivy for her wonderful work and sharing her experiences and knowledge with Giving Birth with Confidence. To learn more about Ivy, visit her blog at http://ivysppdblog.wordpress.com/.

Real Life Is…. An Interview With Mom, Postpartum Depression Survivor, and Photographer Melissa Miller

As happens between women who have experienced postpartum depression (PPD), we find our ways to each other. Out of seemingly nowhere — an email, a conversation — some sort of connection is formed and coincidence creates opportunity to share the extraordinary journey of motherhood with a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD).  In this case, Melissa and I were introduced to each other!  I watched her photo project, “PPMD“ and my heart was so moved. She captures the essence of the beauty and bravery of women who have walked through hell and back — not only recovering from PPD, but growing from it. What Melissa brings to Giving Birth with Confidence is the real story of a real mom realizing her creativity as an essential part of the healing process following postpartum depression.  I am honored to know her, and introduce her to you!

 

When did you realize you had postpartum depression?

This is actually a tough question for me.  Not for emotional reasons but because I think I was in denial or maybe even unaware I had PPD for a long time.  Postpartum depression came about after the birth of my 2nd child.  I am also beginning to realize I may have suffered with depression while I was pregnant with her too.  After she was born I made excuses for my depression and anxiety that it was due to lack of sleep and my daughter being colicky.  It was on a visit to my daughter’s naturopathic pediatrician that my having PPMD came out.  The doctor had been concerned about me when I brought my daughter in and it was during one of the visits that she addressed her concerns with me.  Although I felt there was something wrong with how I was feeling, I was still in denial about admitting I had postpartum depression.  I was scared to admit it.  I tried confiding in a few people and the look on their faces told me they didn’t understand and they were now scared.  Some even suggested taking my kids.  I clammed up.  I didn’t say another word.  Again, I was grateful for my daughter’s doctor.  She is also a midwife.  She was the one person I could speak to without judgment and I owe her so much.     

 

How did your photography and creativity help your recovery?

Photography became my voice.  I remember days when I would be crying, anxious and filled with so much emotion that I didn’t know what to do. I could pick up my camera and in a way, detach myself from it all.  All of a sudden I was looking through my viewfinder and looking at life around me in a different way.  It is difficult for me to express but at that moment it helped me, it helped lift the anxiety and depression for just a minute.  It broke the cycle.  At other times I couldn’t express to people how I was feeling so I used my photography to express emotions in other ways.  Not specifically just my emotions and voice, but others too.  I couldn’t talk about what I was feeling because I didn’t feel anyone would understand.   As I poured myself into my photography I found myself wanting to do more, to learn more, so I went back to school.  It is funny how, in life, there are really no accidents.  If it hadn’t been for my picking up the camera as a way to stay creative being at home with my kids I wouldn’t have had this incredible gift to use while dealing with my PPMD.  And, if it hadn’t been for my having PPMD I wouldn’t have gone back to school and if I didn’t go back to school I wouldn’t have done my project, “PPMD.”

 

Walker: Tell us about your current photo project, “PPMD.”

 My project. Well, as I mentioned about no accidents in life, I was sitting in my Assignment and Editorial class and the topic of our final assignment came up.  We had weekly assignments throughout the 10 weeks of class while also working on a final assignment to be presented at the last class.  The instructor mentioned the best projects are those we can connect with.  I don’t know how it came out but all of a sudden postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) popped into my head.  I also immediately questioned how I was going to present a photo essay on postpartum mood disorder.  I had no idea but presented my idea anyhow.  My instructor loved the idea and encouraged me to include audio.  So, I decided I was going to take photos of women who had or were currently struggling with postpartum mood disorder.  I was going to pose them in their homes and then ask them to provide me with an experience, memory or something else of significance that related to their own experience with PPMD.  I was encouraged to have 10 images for my final and this meant 10 women.  I had no idea how I was going to find that many.  

I should also point out that my main goal was to create a project that would not only empower women who had experienced PPMD but to also educate people about PPMD in hopes of eliminating the judgment and stigma associated with it.  I didn’t want women to be scared, like me, to share their experiences and I wanted all women to get help and to not be ashamed.  I want women to look at these photos and hear the voices and say “hey, I am not alone,” and “these women don’t look crazy; I am not crazy either.”  I used my resources and emailed my local parents community yahoo group and the staff at the non-profit I volunteered for.  I was overwhelmed at the responses I got.  I had over 15 people respond.  It also awakened me to how many women suffer PPMD.  I scheduled time to meet with each woman without my camera.  I wanted to connect and hear their stories.  This was the most amazing experience.  I cried with these women, I laughed with these women.  I heard their stories, I shared mine.  We were not alone.  It was amazingly cathartic for me and for them.  I have received many thank yous, because for most of us, it was the first time we were able to share our stories without judgment.  The horrible things in our heads we were able to laugh about.  We knew they were not reality and we just needed to be heard.  My project shares the voices of the women and their portraits capture them in a way that is reflective of me and my experience.  This project has only just begun.  My dream is to share this project worldwide. To travel and meet with women and then photograph and audio record them.  At this time I am unsure how the project will continue to grow but am still going to school and this project is an active part of my education.  

 

 

 

Melissa Miller is a photographer, student, wife and mother of two living in Seattle, WA.  Photography came about as a way to explore her creative voice.  She’s done work for Open Arms Perinatal Services, PALS Doulas and Thrive by Five’s “Love.Talk.Play.” campaign.  She is currently enrolled at Photographic Center NW where she is taking classes and continuing her personal project, “PPMD“ on the subject of postpartum mood disorders.

10 Questions for a Partner of PTSD Survivor

 

This article is part of the Traumatic Birth Prevention & Resource Guide by PATTCh. Access the complete guide to learn more about traumatic birth and find resources for women and families.

By Walker Karraa, MFA, MA, CD(DONA), President PATTCh

This is an interview I did with my husband, Tony. His perspective on the events of my traumatic birth and subsequent PTSD speak to the impact of these issues on partners, but is not a statement of suggested treatment. It is an honest snapshot of a partner’s experience of birth trauma and his partner’s PTSD, hopefully shedding light on recovery from traumatic birth and reclaiming life post trauma.

 

Were you aware of the PTSD in my birth?

I think that my first clue that something was beginning to happen was during labor. It was specifically during transition that I noticed a slow but clear change in your presence. It appeared as though you began to dissociate from not only me but the world, as if your body had been left behind to experience the rest of the experience without you. It changed after we were home with the baby but for me, that was the moment it began.

 

When did you realize something was wrong?

I knew something was wrong right away. But I didn’t realize the extent of the problem. I kept thinking it would get better. But instead it got worse. I didn’t know where mild baby blues ended and where postpartum depression began. Nor did I have any information on how to get help.

 

What was that experience like for you?

Extraordinarily frightening. I didn’t know what was happening during labor. We were so connected as a couple and it began to shift in a way that was very scary. Once the full force of the PPD began to level itself in our lives in the first few weeks of being home with the baby, I felt confused and helpless and I was experiencing extreme anxiety. When you passed out from lack of sleep and fell to the floor behind me as I was holding the baby, my anxiety changed to terror.

 

What would you do differently now that you know about postpartum depression?

I would have reached out immediately to health care professionals for help. I would have encouraged formula feeding and weaning of breastfeeding right away to facilitate more ease of movement for you to be away from the baby for treatment or even just a break. I would have encouraged proper prescribed medication under the guidance of a psychiatrist to begin to ease the terrible burdens of the disease. It is so difficult to remember how helpless I felt and how under the influence I was of all the media hype about breastfeeding and bonding. That really affected my ability to act

 

What surprised you about my PTSD and postpartum depression?

The insomnia. I was used to seeing depression and how it affected your daily life due to your chronic condition, but the affects of the insomnia were devastating.

 

What scared you the most?

The scariest thing was the constant fear that you may try to hurt yourself.

 

What advice would you give a partner?

To act quickly. To know that no matter what the level of depression, anxiety or insomnia your partner is experiencing, they should be seen by a health care professional and there are lots of options.

 

What do you think women need most if they have PTSD following birth?

They need people in their lives who are willing to acknowledge it for what it is and are willing to be there with them no matter how scary it is.  They also need good professional medical care as quickly as possible. Whether it is therapy or medication, they need to be under the care of a professional. They also need to know that they are not permanently damaging their baby and that they can take time away during the day or night, whenever possible, for a break.

 

How did you see the interaction with our son?

I was worried about him a lot at first.  Not just because of your depression but also because of my own stress and anxiety. I was very afraid that it would affect him adversely. But having watched him grow and mature over the last ten years, I am completely convinced that having the treatment that you finally did receive, starting around his third month of life was an invaluable change in the dynamic between the three of us. It was not all smooth sailing after that but it continued to improve because of it. I shudder to think of what might of happen, had you not found and accepted the treatments of the wonderful therapist and psychiatrists that first saw you.

 

How did you see the interaction with our son?

I was worried about him a lot at first.  Not just because of your depression but also because of my own stress and anxiety. I was very afraid that it would affect him adversely. But having watched him grow and mature over the last ten years, I am completely convinced that having the treatment that you finally did receive, starting around his third month of life, was an invaluable change in the dynamic between the three of us. It was not all smooth sailing after that but it continued to improve because of it. I shudder to think of what might have happened, had you not found and accepted the treatments of the wonderful therapist and psychiatrists that first saw you.

 

How did the next pregnancy and birth of our daughter differ?

Everything was different, but for me, the most notable difference was choosing to be open to bottle feed with formula from the start. That gave you a much greater sense of freedom. You were able to be away without the constant fear that the baby would starve without you. I can’t recommend that enough to other parents. I know it goes against the conventional wisdom of the day regarding breastfeeding. But in my humble opinion (which is grounded in personal experience) they are flat out wrong. Our daughter is attached, loving, kind, deeply in touch with emotions and easily able to connect to others. Not to mention she is flipping brilliant (state test score fact…not merely a parental opinion) and she was bottle fed from infancy.  And once you were diagnosed with breast cancer when she was only 7 months old, we were able to transition her so easily. You just never know what is going to happen—and having that option saved our lives.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Final Thoughts

Trauma impacts everyone, and the experience of trauma subjective — in the eye of the beholder, the person experiencing an event as traumatic. This is true for partners and care providers as well.  The perception of sudden, life-threatening circumstances by partners in the birth room merit deeper understanding. Neurological dynamics, and biological responses to trauma perception are on the forefront of much of the trauma research today. And champions in the field are asking the important questions about the effect of birth trauma on partners. And PATTCh will continue to promote ongoing discussions, symposia, and opportunities to share this research. We have a lot to learn.

Preventing the occurence of traumatic birth experiences, through consideration of risk factors for both parents is key. Partners in the military, law enforcement, with a history of trauma or interpersonal violence deserve to be considered with respect in the birth room, and birth process. Support in both information from qualified professional, and instrumental support during birth and at home during postpartum period are necessary for partners to understand the normal range of emotions and what to do if they or their partner experience symptoms of distress beyond that range.

More information on PTSD can be found on the PATTCh Resource Support page.

Disclaimer: Tony’s experience, and feelings regarding treatment, and bottle/formula feeding are his, and should not be misunderstood to be those of the Board of PATTCh.

 

Walker Karraa is  a doctoral student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. She is a birth doula, maternal mental health advocate, and researcher. She currently writes for the Lamaze research blog, Science and Sensibility. She presents at conferences, trainings, and organizational retreats pertaining to perinatal psychology, postpartum mood disorders, childbirth education, and labor support. Walker also is the President of PATTCh, a not-for-profit dedicated to the prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth.

 

 

PATTCh is a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of traumatic childbirth. Our mission is to develop cross-disciplinary relationships, research, and programs that:

  • prevent PTSD following childbirth through education, interdisciplinary collaboration, and multidisciplinary research;
  • educate perinatal care providers and paraprofessionals in the prevention and treatment of birth and reproduction related trauma;
  • encourage the development of culturally appropriate therapeutic approaches to post-traumatic stress symptoms following childbirth;
  • promote healthy birth practices for all women and families;
  • promote evidence-based research regarding PTSD secondary to childbirth;
  • increase global awareness of the prevalence, risk factors, and effects of PTSD secondary to childbirth; and
  • support collaboration and understanding among all stake-holders, including: researchers, policy makers, medical and mental health care providers, educators, community members, volunteers, women, and families.

 

Transforming Depression, Increasing Awareness: An Interview with Liz Friedman

Liz Friedman is the Program Director at MotherWoman, Inc. and the Founder of the Postpartum Support Initiative.

What do you remember from your experience of postpartum depression?

Liz: When I became a mother almost 9 years ago I experienced a severe perinatal emotional crisis.  My pregnancy was complex, my birth was traumatic, my postpartum period was disastrous. I did everything right and everything went wrong.What I recall most distinctly from that period was the fear that I was losing my mind. I was terrified that I had made a terrible mistake and that I would never be an adequate mother for my beautiful son. I thought I would never recover. The isolation of that time was deeply damaging and my loneliness in the face of that crisis still brings me to tears. Yet step by step I found a path and began to recover with the help of a few excellent resources in my community.

 

How did that experience influence your work with MotherWoman?

Liz:  With every step forward that I took, I became angrier about what no one told me. How could I not

have known there was the possibility of this happening? Why didn’t I know that isolation, difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth are some of the key risk factors for perinatal emotional complications?  Why didn’t I know that there are ways to prevent and prepare for the risks of postpartum depression?  Most importantly, why didn’t I know that postpartum depression is the leading complication of childbirth? Why didn’t I know that 1 in 8 mothers experience perinatal emotional complications?

By the time my baby was 6 months old, I began to gather mothers together to share our experiences of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.  MotherWoman was born from the same desire to create a place for women to share their REAL stories of motherhood. Annette Cycon, LICSW founded the organization in 1998 and I joined in 2005 with the explicit goal of bringing a focus to perinatal mothers. We founded the Perinatal Support Initiative and developed the MotherWoman Support Group Model to address this issue. We believe in mothers’ ability to heal and lead powerful lives as the mothers and women they are meant to be.

 

Before you had children, what was your awareness of depression and anxiety in pregnancy and postpartum?

Liz: Awareness? What awareness? Not until after having lived through the experience did I gain any real awareness. And it wasn’t until I became an advocate and educator that I received a true education. This is the one thing that mothers say again and again as they walk into our perinatal support groups: “Why didn’t anyone tell me??”

I strongly believe it is our responsibility as educators and advocates ensuring that all mothers have accurate information regarding depression/anxiety disorders so they can be informed, and thoughtful about how to best approach the childbearing period of their lives. We need to do this in a way that doesn’t frighten them but rather empowers them. If we do not do this as part of our prenatal education we have done mothers a huge disservice.
What would you suggest to childbirth educators and doulas?

Liz: Pregnant women trust you because you are their childbirth educators and doulas. They will listen to you. Have courage and tell them the facts of the postpartum depression and anxiety mood disorders.

Every childbirth educator and doula must make it an essential part of their curriculum to cover the basics regarding PPMAD (perinatal and postpartum mood/anxiety disorders). This means telling mothers and their partners what symptoms, prevalence, and risk factors, and treatment options may be, and referrals in the area.  Partners need to know what to look for because often they are the ones who first notice a mother struggling.  Childbirth educators and doulas need to insist that pregnant women put attention on what emotional life is like postpartum and prepare for it.   Mothers and partners need to be encouraged to create a Postpartum Plans that is evidence-based and addresses some of the most common challenges in the postpartum time.   Partners need to be made aware of how much support they will be expected to give and how much physical and emotional support a new mother actually needs for the entire postpartum year!

 

What questions should pregnant women ask potential doula about depression/anxiety?

Liz:

  • Do you have experience supporting mothers who have had depression/anxiety?
  • Are you philosophically opposed to your clients using medications to assist with depression/anxiety?
  • How can you help me prepare for the possibility of experiencing depression/anxiety?
  • What resources do you have to help me if I develop depression/anxiety?

 

What advice would you offer pregnant women today?

Liz: Many mothers make a birth plan to prepare for their birth.  I recommend that every women make a postpartum plan!  If mothers had a real idea of what the postpartum period would be like, they would PLAN! In order to make a plan, you need to understand the risk factors, the likelihood of different outcomes and path for prevention that works for you. Could you imagine what our postpartum experiences would have been like if we had real support set up for us after we gave birth to our babies?

 

What was it like doing TEDtalks?

Liz: I won the TEDWomen’s contest in Dec 2010 and it was the first time in the history of TED that a postpartum mother’s story was highlighted and given international attention.  At TED you have to be bold so I told them the truth.  I spoke about the incredible despair and isolation I experienced during my postpartum time.  I told them my dream: I will do everything in my power to ensure that no other mother has to go through what I went through; alone
, terrified and not knowing if she will ever be ok again.  And then I showed them the path: through the MotherWoman Support Group Model we will bring women together to transform our lives and build solid foundations beneath our feet.

 

Where do you hope to see MotherWoman 10 years from now?

Liz: MotherWoman is going international! Our Support Group Model (SGM) is transforming the way professionals approach the issue of depression and anxiety mood disorders in pregnancy and postpartum.  Our Support Group Model is innovative, ground-breaking and provides the missing link in caring for perinatal mothers. Our model not only educates mothers about PPMADs and provides structured safety for diverse mothers to share their stories and to heal but it is also an empowerment model which believes in each woman’s inherent wisdom and ability to take positive steps that benefit her and her family. Our goal is to have one Support Group for every 2000 births nationally.  In communities utilizing our model, awareness about depression and anxiety disorders in pregnancy and postpartum is growing and the number of mothers who are seeking help and care is increasing– and that means that mothers are recovering and their families are thriving.

 

Book Review: Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts

Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood (Kleiman & Wenzel, 2010) is a courageous and compassionate examination of the scary thoughts that may accompany anxiety in pregnancy and postpartum. Recently, author and perinatal mental health expert Karen Kleiman, MSW shared valuable insight into the topic, and how every mother and care provider can benefit from this book.

Can you describe the term “scary thoughts”?

Scary thoughts” is the expression we use in the book to incorporate any and all categories of faulty thinking that can interfere with feelings of well-being of a new mother. This term refers to thoughts, urges or impulses that are intrusive and bombard a new mother at any time with no notice. They can take the form of worry (anxiety), obsessive thinking (OCD), rumination (depression), catastrophic misinterpretation of bodily sensations (panic), and intrusive memories (PTSD). Whatever form the scary thoughts present in, they are always unwanted and the degree of distress can range from mildly annoying to severely disturbing.

How common are scary thoughts in motherhood? And what are helpful signs needing help?

Research by John Abramowitz has shown that 91% of all new mothers (and 88% of fathers) experience unwanted thoughts after childbirth (Abramowitz, Schwartz, & Moore, 2003.) That’s a very high number! That means almost every new mother experiences some degree of obsessive thinking.

Keep in mind that it is not the thought itself or the content of the thought that is worrisome it is the level of suffering it causes. The level of suffering refers to the amount, frequency, and how time-consuming the distress is. Not surprisingly, if a mother perceives the thought as threatening, her anxiety will be greater. In this way, it is actually her interpretation, or misinterpretation, of the thought, rather than the thought itself, which makes her so anxious about them.

Women who have a history of an anxiety disorder or depression, or who tend to be a worriers, or describe themselves as perfectionist, have an increased risk of experiencing scary thoughts. (Though having no such history does not exempt a woman from experiencing them). The presence of any anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period is typically associated with scary thoughts.

What advice would you give to pregnant and postpartum women today who may be experiencing scary thoughts, anxiety, or symptoms of mood disorders?

Intrusive thoughts are almost always unwanted and scary. One of the best things they can do is to understand that these thoughts are extremely common and occur all the time. Almost all mothers will admit they have had distressing thoughts that bombard them out of nowhere from time to time. The important thing to remember is that having the thoughts is not, in and of itself, problematic. Rather, how the women reacts or deals with her troublesome thoughts is what determines whether she needs treatment or not. In other words, we know that the thoughts are triggered by anxiety. The more anxiety a woman has, the harder it may be for her to deal with it, and the more it may interfere with her ability to function and get through her day.

How do you think the book would be best used by pregnant women?

Pregnant women are also vulnerable to having scary thoughts. Will my baby be okay? What if I do something that hurts my baby? What if I don’t want my baby? Why did I get pregnant in the first place? Pregnant women also need to know that these thoughts are common and if they persist or are particularly troublesome for a woman, she can get treatment, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which will help her learn how to adapt her thinking in response to these thoughts and better manage the anxiety. This way, she will develop skills that will help reduce her risk for postpartum depression and anxiety after her baby is born.

How could a pregnant or newly postpartum mom use this with her care provider (OB/GYN, midwife)?

Perhaps the best way to use this book is to either let her care provider understand what she has learned or by sharing the book directly with her provider. The book is geared toward both the consumer and the provider since it has been our experience that excellent healthcare practitioners do not always have up-to-date information, and unfortunately, many still do not understand the nature of scary thoughts. Providers who are misinformed can inadvertently agitate a situation by over-reacting, thus, reinforcing a woman’s greatest fear – that if she discloses what she is thinking, someone will judge her or think she is crazy.

How can new mothers help each other de-mystify mental health and deconstruct the happy mother = good mother myth you discuss?

The stigma attached to new mothers who are anxious or depressed has been around for ages. The best things women and healthcare providers can do is to help educate others and speak about the issues that surround this vulnerable time in a woman’s life so accurate information can be disseminated. Though much headway has been made in the areas of research and public awareness, we still have far to go as a society who is learning to accept and embrace a mother who doesn’t always feel so good.

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I encourage all moms, family members, childbirth educators, doulas, and care providers to add this book to their ‘must have’ library. Further information about this book and topic are available at www.postpartumstress.com. There is a wonderful video on the topic at http://postpartumstress.blogspot.com.

 

Karen Kleiman, MSW, licensed, clinical social worker, is founder and director of The Postpartum Stress Center of Pennsylvania and The Postpartum Stress & Family Wellness Center in New Jersey. She is author of several books on postpartum depression, including This Isn’t What I Expected , and an internationally recognized postpartum depression expert. In 1988 she founded The Postpartum Stress Center, a treatment facility for prenatal and postpartum depression and a training center for therapists. Her work has been featured in local and national magazines, numerous radio shows, local and national television shows, including Inside Edition, The Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. Karen lives with her family outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to her clinical practice, Karen teaches a specialized post-graduate course for clinicians, provides training programs for healthcare professionals and mentoring opportunities for therapists who wish to specialize in the treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Amy Wenzel received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Iowa, followed by her clinical psychology internship at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. She has served on the faculties of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the American College of Norway, and the University of North Dakota. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. She is author of Anxiety Disorders in Childbearing Women: Diagnosis and Treatment and editor of the forthcoming: Handbook of Perinatal Psychology (Oxford University Press), as well as author or editor of books on topics such as cognitive therapy, cognitive research methods, and close relationships. She is founder of the Hope & Resiliency Clinic, a treatment, research, and training clinic focused on suicide prevention and support for survivors of suicide.

Blossom in the Desert, Part II: Postpartum Progress, an Interview with Katherine Stone

In this second part of my interview, Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress offers her unique insight into the growing prevalence of depression/anxiety in pregnancy and postpartum, and the role of childbirth professionals in addressing perinatal mental health concerns. Katherine also speaks to the amazing potential for personal growth through the experience of postpartum depression/anxiety.

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Can you share how you have experienced personal growth through your experience of postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

The personal growth has been amazing.  I really think getting through a dark time in your life or tough experience, no matter what it is, helps you to learn more about who you are.  It also gives many people a purpose that, until then, they didn’t know they had.  That has been the case for me.  While I loved working in corporate marketing, my life has been enriched in countless ways by the work I do now.  I love that technology allows me to reach women anywhere they are and give them the kind of information they need to get help and get better.  While postpartum depression is not something that I’d wish on anyone, I think it’s possible, once you’ve given yourself enough time to fully recover, to find some gifts in it, even if that’s just knowing that you have much more strength and courage than you ever thought.

Why do you think we have such high prevalence of postpartum depression and anxiety disorders (PPD)?

PPD exists everywhere, not just in the US, or in Western nations.  I wrote a story a few years ago on my blog, for instance, about some research that found that PPD is highly prevalent in Negev Bedouins. 

I don’t believe there’s a single reason as to why it exists or is so prevalent.  There are many things that can play a part in whether a woman will have PPD, from her family history of mental illness, to her current financial situation, to whether she has diabetes, to what her childbirth experience is like and on and on.  Perhaps we’re just recognizing it more, I don’t know.  Plus, I imagine that the way in which we now live plays a part.  Most of us are no longer in the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child.  We have the baby, we’re out of the hospital lickety-split, we have fewer social supports and many of us are back to work in short order.   I doubt any of that helps with our emotional wellbeing.

As you know, I focus a lot on the area of stigma for mothers with mental health challenges. Have you had a personal experience of stigma?

I don’t think I’ve personally experienced much stigma, other than what I put on myself in the form of shame and isolation when I was going through postpartum OCD. 

I see it quite a bit, though, with the women I speak to all around the world.  People have no idea how poorly women with PPD are still being treated.  Women are dismissed by doctors, told they can’t be helped, told they can’t possibly have PPD if they seek treatment past 3 or 4 months postpartum.  They lose jobs.  Some are told by their faith communities that their PPD is a spiritual failing.  If they later divorce, their PPD experiences are sometimes brought up in custody battles.  Some lose the ability to get life insurance after being treated for PPD. 

I think the treatment that gets to me the most though is the poor treatment by health care professionals.  I’ve had desperate women told they should just take a hot bath or eat more meat and they’d feel better.  Women told they should just wait it out and call back in several weeks if things don’t get better.  Women told by OBs that the OB can’t help because he or she is not in the mental health business.  Women who finally get the courage to seek help and are told they’ll have to wait months to get in to see someone.  Those things really make me mad.

How can women with history, risks, or diagnosed depression or anxiety give birth with confidence today? What would your advice be regarding their birth, and after?

I can’t say I’m much of an expert on the giving birth part, but at least in terms of the potential for antenatal or postpartum depression or anxiety, my advice would be to know your risk factors and know the symptoms, and make sure your loved ones know them as well.  Know that if the symptoms should arise, there are great resources to help you.  PPD and related illnesses are temporary and treatable with professional help.  Reach out to advocates like myself or the people at Postpartum Support International www.postpartumsupport.net who understand what you are going through and will connect you to that help.  You can be confident that you will get well.  You will get back to the old you.  You will be a good mother.  Really.

Where could birth professionals play a bigger role?

I think birth professionals could play a bigger role by being as up-to-date and informed as possible on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Know the psychiatric resources in your area.  Know that women can get a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder any time in the first year.  Know where the support groups are. 

I’d also love to see them doing in-depth social histories on women to identify their risk factors for these illnesses from the start, before they ever have the baby.  Those with high risk could receive special education and resources in advance, so they’d be more prepared for what might happen and how to deal with it quickly.  Imagine the suffering that could help prevent.

Additionally, it seems like I’m hearing from a lot of women who’ve experienced birth trauma.  It is so important for birth professionals to realize that events in the delivery room that they perceive as fairly routine are never routine and often very scary for someone who has never had a baby.

For more information regarding birth trauma, please refer to http://postpartum.net/Get-the-Facts/Postpartum-Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder.aspx.

One of the biggest fears I hear from women, is that we will somehow harm our children, either with medication, breastfeeding choices, or depression. How can women transform this fear into confidence in birthing and mothering?

That’s a great question.  I’m not sure if we can ever fully eliminate the fears or worry over how we might hurt our children, whether related to PPD or anything else we do as mothers.  Raising little people is such a monumental job, and most of us take it so seriously that there are always going to be worries about whether we are doing it right and making the right decisions.  That being said, we still have to make those decisions.  We can’t put our heads in the sand.  And the truth is that our own mental illness has the very serious potential to harm our children in the long run, so something must be done about it.  Women have got to get help.  They deserve to be healthy, and their children deserve healthy mothers. 

I have learned to focus on making the best decisions that I can, based on all of the information available to me at the time, and then I try to let go and move on to the next thing.  That’s the very best I can do, and I’ve become confident that that is good enough.

Katherine Stone is the author of Postpartum Progress (http://www.postpartumprogress.com), the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Postpartum Progress has been named among the top ten depression sites on the web by PsychCentral, won a 2010 Fit Pregnancy Best of the Web Award, and is a Parenting magazine Must-Read Mom Runner-Up.  Katherine is also the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress Inc., a non-profit dedicated to vastly improving the support and services available to women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Additionally, she writes the weekly column “If Mama Ain’t Happy” on ParentDish, and is a guest contributor for the topic of PPD at BlogHer.  She was the winner of the 2010 Bloganthropy Award, given for using social media to make a difference, and was named a WebMD Health Hero in 2008.  Follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprogr.

Blossom in the Desert: Postpartum Progress, an Interview with Katherine Stone

At a recent mental health conference, I sat in a ballroom filled with the leading experts in the field of perinatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.  A heated topic emerged.  A tall woman with vibrant red hair stood in line and waited her turn at the comment microphone.  With utter clarity and striking confidence, she spoke truth to power for all women experiencing depression or anxiety around the time of childbirth. She stood amidst every expert and spoke for all of us.  That woman was Katherine Stone, the author of Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other maternal mental health issues. 

I nabbed her in the hallway at the break and asked if she would do an interview for Giving Birth With Confidence. She said yes, and handed me her business card….a photo of the desert with one brilliant flower blossoming in the middle. That photo captures Katherine–her steadfast commitment to represent potential, and to encourage women to stay bright and bold in the middle of dry times.

It is my pleasure to offer the first of a two-part interview with Katherine. In part one Katherine reflects on pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period sharing her own journey through postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and her recovery.  In Part II we will learn about Katherine’s advocacy, and tireless effort to help all women give birth with confidence.

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Tell us a little about your work and blog.  

I am a full-time advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and the mother of two children, ages 4 and 9. 

I started my blog Postpartum Progress in 2004 so that women wouldn’t feel as alone, ashamed and uninformed as I did when I had postpartum OCD with the birth of my first child in 2001.  It has since become the most widely-read blog on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  I am extremely proud of it, and the community that has been created through it. 

What were your births like?

My first birth was a bit of a nightmare. My water broke first thing in the morning and off we went to the hospital.  I then spent hours and hours and hours in labor, and actually pushed for 4 hours. Four hours! I was completely emotionally and physically spent, beyond spent, by the time my son was finally delivered via forceps.  I already felt like a failure for not having been able to “properly” birth my own child.  Afterwards, he had jaundice, and unbeknownst to me the nurses in the nursery were giving him a bottle to prevent dehydration so after the first or second day he started refusing the breast. Oh, and the day we went home from the hospital was September 11.   All around, not the best experience.

How, if at all, did your births affect your OCD?

I do think it had an influence, although truth be told I can see now that I was already headed toward postpartum OCD anyway.  Still, perhaps it wouldn’t have been so severe.

What would you like to share about your personal experience of Postpartum OCD?

It was a nightmare. I’ve never been so scared in all my life.  I was sure my life was over and that I’d never be the same again. I felt completely disconnected to my baby and was convinced he would never love me.  I had intrusive thoughts, like “what if I drown him in the bathtub?”  (I didn’t know at the time of course, that they were intrusive thoughts.  I just thought I had become a monster.) I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was filled with anxiety and dread all the time.  Postpartum OCD is just an awful illness. 

It’s hard to put into words how terrifying it is and how it can become so easy to be convinced that you are such a horrible and worthless person.

How did you get through it?

After several weeks of complete terror, I reached out for help.  I figured my life was over anyway so I might as well tell someone and get help.  I couldn’t stand the pain anymore.  I was sure when I told the first therapist I saw what my thoughts were that she’d call the police.  Thankfully she knew what was wrong with me, and explained it to me in the calmest and most supportive terms.  She told me I would be okay.  That was the first step in my recovery.  I took medication and went to therapy as my treatment.

What did you learn?

I learned a lot about the human mind and how we don’t have as much control over it as we think.  I learned to have great empathy for anyone suffering a mental illness.  I also learned that I’m a survivor and a strong and loving mother.  It was a hard path to take to learn all of that, but I’m grateful for it now.

How did you make meaning out of the experience?

I suppose the way I made meaning was to commit myself to helping all of the women who come after me.  Hundreds of thousands of people have gotten help from my blog Postpartum Progress, and I’ve recently started a nonprofit to try to do even more good.  It’s given me my life’s work, so I don’t regret having had postpartum OCD.

Did you have a birth or postpartum doula?

We did hire a baby nurse to help us after my son was born, but I sent her home after a couple of days.  I was so riddled with anxiety that I couldn’t stand to have her around.  She did nothing wrong, of course.  I just felt at the time that it should be me taking care of the baby, and that I shouldn’t need to have a nurse.  I already felt like I had failed the birth, and failed breastfeeding, and so I didn’t want to feel like a needed a nurse to help me do what I thought were basic mothering things like diapering and bathing. 

What did you learn in your childbirth education class about postpartum mental health?

PPD was glossed over.  In fact, I clearly recall the teacher of the class saying that none of her students ever got PPD so we shouldn’t worry about it.  What a travesty that was.

What did you know about your risk factors for depression before you had your baby?

I didn’t know anything about risk factors for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders before having my son.  I was never asked a single question.  I was never screened.  Had I known, I think I would at least have been prepared for the possibility that it would happen.

How does your experience influence your parenting? 

I’m not sure it influences my parenting any longer, but I think for the first couple of years I had a lot of guilt about it and I worked extra hard to make sure my son and I had a good bond.

Last year, I launched a new non-profit organization, called Postpartum Progress Inc., which is focused on improving the kinds of services and support that women receive.  I want to see more professionals who specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  I want to give women help who don’t have access to it based on where they live or their resources.  I want to see improved public awareness.  I want more specialized treatment programs.  There is SO much work to be done, and I’m excited about contributing to it.

I’ve also recently launched a new service called Daily Hope, which is a first-of-its-kind project to help women who are currently suffering.  They can opt in to receive a daily email of encouragement on getting through these illnesses.  The messages of hope are written by me, as well as the nation’s top experts and authors on maternal mental illness, as well as survivors.  Because most women do not have access to PPD support groups and specialists where they live, we are bringing the experts and support to them.  This is one of the first projects of my non-profit, so it’s very exciting.  A lot of work, but very exciting.  Women who’d like to sign up can click here:  http://postpartumprogress.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=49e8e6d424badbb0285da7485&id=6f51f854b1

If you would like more information regarding postpartum progress, or postpartum depression and anxiety, visit www.postpartumprogress.com for links to excellent information, resources and support.

Katherine Stone is the author of Postpartum Progress (http://www.postpartumprogress.com), the most widely-read blog on postpartum depression and other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth.  Postpartum Progress has been named among the top 10 depression sites on the web by PsychCentral, won a 2010 Fit Pregnancy Best of the Web Award, and is a Parenting magazine Must-Read Mom Runner-Up.  Katherine is also the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress Inc., a non-profit dedicated to vastly improving the support and services available to women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Additionally, she writes the weekly column “If Mama Ain’t Happy” on ParentDish, and is a guest contributor for the topic of PPD at BlogHer.  She was the winner of the 2010 Bloganthropy Award, given for using social media to make a difference, and was named a WebMD Health Hero in 2008.  Follow her on Twitter at @postpartumprogr.

One Dad’s Survival Experience with Postpartum Depression

When Tony and I had Ziggy, the first few months were nightmarish. It was Christmas time in Seattle, and I remember having insomnia so bad I thought I had lost the ability to sleep. In an attempt to heal, I decided to ask Tony 10 questions about his experience of being a partner to someone suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety and PTSD.

When did you realize something was wrong?
I knew something was wrong right away. But I didn’t realize the extent of the problem. I kept thinking it would get better. But instead it got worse. I didn’t know where mild baby blues ended and where postpartum depression began. Nor did I have any information on how to get help.
 

What was that experience like for you?
Extraordinarily frightening. I didn’t know what was happening during labor. We were so connected as a couple and it began to shift in a way that was very scary. Once the full force of the PPD began to level itself in our lives in the first few weeks of being home with the baby, I felt confused and helpless and I was experiencing extreme anxiety. When you passed out from lack of sleep and fell to the floor behind me as I was holding the baby, my anxiety changed to terror.

What would you do differently now that you know about postpartum depression?
I would have reached out immediately to health care professionals for help. I would have encouraged formula feeding and weaning of breastfeeding right away to facilitate more ease of movement for you to be away from the baby for treatment or even just a break. I would have encouraged proper prescribed medication under the guidance of a psychiatrist to begin to ease the terrible burdens of the disease. It is so difficult to remember how helpless I felt and how under the influence I was of all the media hype about breastfeeding and bonding. That really affected my ability to act.

Were you aware of the PTSD in birth?
I think that my first clue that something was beginning to happen was during labor. It was specifically during transition that I noticed a slow but clear change in your presence. It appeared as though you began to dissociate from not only me but the world, as if your body had been left behind to experience the rest of the experience without you. It changed after we were home with the baby but for me, that was the moment it began.

What surprised you about PPD?
The insomnia. I was used to seeing depression and how it affected your daily life due to your chronic condition, but the affects of the insomnia were devastating.

What scared you the most?
The scariest thing was the constant fear that you may try to hurt yourself.

What advice would you give a partner?
To act quickly. To know that no matter what the level of depression, anxiety or insomnia your partner is experiencing, they should be seen by a health care professional and there are lots of options.

What do you think women need most if they have PPD?
They need people in their lives who are willing to acknowledge it for what it is and are willing to be there with them no matter how scary it is. They also need good professional medical care as quickly as possible. Whether it is therapy or medication, they need to be under the care of a professional. They also need to know that they are not permanently damaging their baby and that they can take time away during the day or night, whenever possible, for a break.

How did you see the interaction with our son?
I was worried about him a lot at first. Not just because of your depression but also because of my own stress and anxiety. I was very afraid that it would affect him adversely. But having watched him grow and mature over the last ten years, I am completely convinced that having the treatment that you finally did receive, starting around his third month of life was an invaluable change in the dynamic between the three of us. It was not all smooth sailing after that but it continued to improve because of it. I shudder to think of what might of happen, had you not found and accepted the treatments of the wonderful therapist and psychiatrists that first saw you.

How did the next pregnancy and birth of our daughter differ?
Everything was different, but for me, the most notable difference was choosing to bottle feed with formula from the start. That gave you a much greater sense of freedom. You were able to be away without the constant fear that the baby would starve without you. I can’t recommend that enough to other parents. I know it goes against the conventional wisdom of the day regarding breastfeeding. But in my humble opinion (which is grounded in personal experience) they are flat out wrong. Our daughter is attached, loving, kind, deeply in touch with emotions and easily able to connect to others. Not to mention she is flipping brilliant (state test score fact…not merely a parental opinion) and she was bottle fed from infancy.

Postscript from Lamaze:
Every woman and family’s experience with PPMD is different, along with every set of solutions to address the illness.  We at Lamaze honor Walker and Tony for their courage in sharing this story, as well as the means by which they engaged to seek treatment and healing. We also stand behind evidence-based research that in most cases, breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for mom and baby and can be relaxing, calming and healing in and of itself.

Daily Support Service for Mothers Who Suffer from Postpartum Disorders

Earlier this month, Postpartum Progress (www.postpartumprogress.com), the most widely-read blog in the United States on postpartum depression, launched a new service to help pregnant and new mothers get through the difficulty of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Daily Hope is the nation’s first support service featuring once-daily e-mails to mothers with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD and antenatal depression or anxiety. This free service provides encouragement from survivors, the country’s top perinatal mental health specialists and authors of the leading books on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and parenting.

Many of the nearly one million women who suffer each year do not have access to perinatal mental health specialists or PPD support groups where they live. “I hear from thousands of mothers across the country and around the world who say that having someone to lean on who deeply understands can contribute a great deal to their recovery process,” said Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress and survivor of postpartum OCD. “I felt Daily Hope would be a great way to use technology to offer mothers encouragement from the nation’s most trusted experts on their illnesses, regardless of where they live or what type of health insurance they have. The more support we can provide to women with postpartum depression, the better, because the quicker the recovery, the less likely the illness will have a long-term impact on mom and baby.”

Contributors to Daily Hope include, among many:

  • Karen Kleiman, MSW, author of “This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression”
  • Ann Dunnewold, PhD, author of “Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide” and “Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box”
  • Marlene Freeman, MD, MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health and Harvard University
  • Pamela Weigartz, author of “The Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety Workbook”
  • Susan Stone, LCSW, former president of Postpartum Support International
  • Janice Croze, co-founder of 5MinutesforMom.com and survivor of PPD
  • “Aunt Becky,” author of the blog Mommy Wants Vodka, founder of Band Back Together and survivor of antenatal depression
  • Adrienne Griffen, founder of Postpartum Support Virginia

To sign up (for free) and subscribe to Daily Hope, click here.

Postpartum Progress, founded in 2004, provides the most comprehensive, in-depth and accessible information available on perinatal mental illness for pregnant women and new mothers. Having already helped more than 350,000 women and healthcare providers, Postpartum Progress offers an unflinching look at getting through postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis, and antenatal depression & anxiety. Postpartum Progress has been named one of the top 10 depression blogs on the web by Psych Central, the winner of Fit Pregnancy’s Best of the Web Awards in the Advice category, and was a runner-up in Parenting’s Must-Read Moms and Scholastic Parent & Child’s Best Parenting Blogs Awards. It has been featured on Babble, ParentDish, Café Mom, Health.com and many other parenting websites. Postpartum Progress was founded by Katherine Stone, who was named a WebMD Health Hero in 2008 and won the Bloganthropy Award in 2010 for her advocacy work for pregnant and new mothers with maternal mental illness.

Postpartum Progress the blog and Daily Hope are both offered by Postpartum Progress Inc., a newly-formed non-profit organization dedicated to vastly improving the amount of services and support available to women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.