Why I Love Working With Pregnant and New Moms
Since I became a therapist, I worked mainly with children and families during the first few years. When I transitioned to working in private practice, I began to see more adults for individual therapy and eventually became interested in the unique struggles of the pregnancy and postpartum period for women. Add in my own personal experience with postpartum insomnia with my second son, and I knew there are something worth exploring in this area for my clinical practice.
Around the same time that I was discovering my professional interest in this area, there was increased public health awareness of the prevalence of "postpartum depression", a blanket term many people use that covers the range of issues women face during their early childbearing years. The term "postpartum" has come to represent not only typical depression, but anxiety, OCD, insomnia, rage and other mood issues that are present during this timeframe. The technical term used by most therapists in our field is "perinatal mood and anxiety disorders". Whatever it's called-postpartum depression, baby blues, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, it is all a varying degree of difficulty adjusting to the major life change of having a baby.
I used my second maternity leave to immerse myself in the literature about pregnancy and postpartum mood disorders and was able to attend a wonderful training with Postpartum Support International to become certified in treating perineal mood and anxiety disorders. I continue to participate in continuing education in this area and am super excited to attend a training this week on postpartum depression in fathers! Yes, the pregnancy and postpartum period can affect male partners as well!
Here's what makes my job so rewarding:
- Many women recover from postpartum mood issues very quickly!! With the right amount of therapeutic support coupled with becoming more confident in their parenting skills and gradual improvement of sleep, many women report improved mood within a few months of beginning therapy!
- Couples work during this time is also very effective. Compared to couples therapy for other life issues, when partners come together for therapy during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby, their goals are often the same-adjusting to family life. Most couples want to be on the same page and to support each other during this time, so couples therapy is often a positive team-based process.
- There is a great community out there for pregnant and new moms! I love helping my clients find local resources, from new moms groups to jogging partners to music classes for their little ones, Rhode Island has a great community for pregnancy and new parents.
- Rhode Island also has a great professional community as well! Women and Infants Hospital has a renowned day program where women with more intense mood symptoms can attend with their babies and receive individual and group therapy along with medication management, if needed. There are many psychiatrists and nurse practitioners who are well trained in this perinatal health issues, which is so important because many women are concerned about taking medications during pregnancy or while breast-feeding. Doctors can provide important education about what medications are safe during this time.
I can confidently say that most of the women I have worked with who struggled with pregnancy and postpartum mood issues have made significant improvements during their course in therapy. A job well done makes for a happy therapist!