Frequently Asked Questions
I might have the baby blues... I'm not sure, how do I know?
Many moms talk about the baby blues, which are normal adjustments when becoming a mom. They are often hormonal-feeling, mild to moderate tough moments in the first two weeks after giving birth. You may find yourself teary-eyed or emotional however you bounce back fairly easily and this is the exception not the rule.
When symptoms impact how you are enjoying motherhood, your child[ren] and/or relationships, your ability to function the way you want, there may be something more going on. You could be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety (PPA). Women commonly experience a combination of the above and these fall under the umbrella of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.
WHAT IS A PERINATAL MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDER?
Perinatal refers to any time during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth.
A mood or anxiety disorder occurs when your mood or anxiety [frequently a combination of depression, agitation, anxiety and panic], create disorder in your life. These conditions can impact us at any time in our lives, however at a time of physical, hormonal, emotional and social change, we are more at risk for experiencing a mental health condition.
1 in 7 women meet criteria for a mental health during this time and MANY more have several symptoms which we often refer to as emotional complications, but do not necessarily fit a formal medical diagnosis.
For many women this looks like frequent panic, worry, irritability, agitation or loss of interest. You may not feel like yourself, you may have scary or distressing thoughts. Perhaps you are unable to mother the way you want to or your work performance isn't what it used to be. These feelings of course are not exclusive to this time period, however taking care of your changing body or growing family can certainly complicate feeling unwell!
It's been more than a year since i had a baby... could this be impacting me?
Yes! The term 'perinatal' mentioned above encompasses that first year postpartum however it's not uncommon for mild to moderate symptoms to linger or pull you down beyond your little one's first birthday. Without treatment symptoms can last for years. Counseling can help even if you have felt something is not quite right for years.
WHAT IS BIRTH TRAUMA?
For a variety of reasons, women experience birth as traumatic [over 40%!] whether the experience brings back physical or emotional memories from the past, or things do not go as planned. The key to understanding traumatic birth is knowing that it is unique to the mom or partner experiencing something as traumatic- there is no one definition or specific criteria. If you or your partner experienced trauma, flashbacks or panic related to pregnancy, birth or postpartum, we can work through these challenges in counseling.
I'm not depressed. I'm angry. What's up with that?
It's very common for women to experience a mix of a few different emotions. If you are not feeling yourself in your relationships or are not mothering the way you want to be, perhaps less patient or more irritable and quick to snap than you used to be, you could be experiencing some perinatal emotional complications. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are rarely clear cut and defined. One of the most common phrases we hear from women is, "I'm just not myself."
What if I'm having scary thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts or images that pop into your mind and are unwanted. They stir up feelings of worry, guilt, shame or panic are very common during pregnancy and after baby's arrival. Moms often take extra precautions to avoid triggers or protect themselves or baby. Intrusive thoughts are upsetting to you and often violent or tragic- they can feel very vivid in the moment and you may find yourself tearful or feel your heart race because they make you so worried. You may be afraid to tell anyone about these distressing images or worries, but with help you will get better- counseling can help.
DO YOU WORK WITH COUPLES?
Absolutely! Change is difficult for everyone and motherhood and family transitions complicate the strongest of relationships. In the strongest of relationships, having [or trying to have] a baby changes the relationship. You each change and the way you interact and communicate changes. It's not uncommon to feel disconnected or distant from your partner. We can reconnect and work on strategies to help you both feel heard, respected and loved again so you can get back to enjoying your entire family.
What happens in counseling?
We will start out meeting once weekly for 50-60 minutes. I want to learn about where you are struggling or unsatisfied in your life, what's not working, and where you long for change. Together we'll come up with a plan to reduce your symptoms, improve your mood, manage your stress and once again feel like yourself.
Will i get better?
That's the plan! Our goal is to empower you to overcome the challenges you're presently facing whether you're facing perinatal emotional complications, struggling to maintain work-life balance, or perhaps not mothering the way you want to. If you're looking for relationship satisfaction we can problem-solve obstacles in with your partner so you both enjoy your life more fully. With treatment it does get better.
is what we discuss private?
With the exceptions of mandated reporting of disclosure of abuse or neglect, and basic diagnosis and dates of treatment to insurance, we keep the strictest of confidence. As licensed mental health professionals, we are ethically and legally bound to protect your privacy and take that very seriously. Without a signed release of information from you giving explicit permission to speak with someone, we will not confirm or deny we have a counseling relationship.
do I need medication? do you prescribe medication?
Counselors, social workers and therapists do not prescribe medication, however if we decide that is an appropriate component of treatment for you, we promise to collaborate with your trusted prescriber, or connect you to a provider whom we trust. Some moms benefit from medication to help them get better, and sometimes this is short-term.
will you talk to my doctor?
It can be very helpful to collaborate with others helping you work on wellness and when it is useful we will invite you to sign a release of information so we can update your providers on your progress and collaborate in your care. This decision is yours and we will respect your preferences.
do you work with anyone else TO HELP ME GET WELL?
We see great value in collaborative, holistic care and frequently refer to complementary professionals such as doulas, childbirth educators, lactation supports, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and aromatherapists. We are happy to collaborate with psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners [PMHNPs], primary care doctors, OB/GYNs, and midwives (CNM or CPM)