The PWCB and Boulder Women's Care

By Diane Drapkin, MSW

As a therapist at the Postpartum Wellness Center and in collaboration with Boulder Women’s Care, I see many families embarking on parenthood. In line with best practices for meeting the holistic health needs of perinatal women, the PWCB and Boulder Women’s Care have established a four-week postpartum check for all women who deliver at Foothills Community Hospital. 

A common refrain from new moms is: “this is really hard ……” “This” could be postpartum recovery, sleep, feeding, packing up to leave the house for the grocery store or an appointment, negotiating family members and new boundaries, and so on.  As a society, we don’t talk about these daily challenges and exhaustion that come hand in hand with new parenthood. We tend to romanticize the experience.

The truth is that 1 in 5 moms will struggle with a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD).  New moms in the clinic frequently ask me, “what does that mean?” or “what is the difference between that and the ‘baby blues?’”

The so-called “Baby Blues” usually occurs in the first several of weeks postpartum and fades with time. I often say about the “Baby Blues” that you may find yourself crying over a commercial on television in this time period, primarily because of rapidly changing hormones plus exhaustion and general emotional overwhelm. It is important to note that this normal experience is acute and should dissipate as time passes.

When the “Baby Blues” doesn’t pass and PMAD symptoms develop, we want to catch it as quickly as possible! This is where the four-week check in the clinic has been a golden opportunity. The goal of the four-week check is to screen for emerging PMADs. Additionally, this check gives new families an opportunity to ask questions, express emotions, and honestly reveal the ups and downs of new parenthood in a safe and supportive environment. Many new moms will start our visit with “I’m fine” and end with “this is so hard, and nobody every talks about that” or “my mom/mother-in-law keeps telling me it should be easy and natural.”

I see many mothers face the daunting transition from a life filled with controlled schedules and met expectations to life with a newborn, which can often be very difficult to schedule and control. When consumed with mastering a new role under a wave of exhaustion, it can be difficult to realize that you are not re-gaining wellness after delivery. Our four-week check is an opportunity to explore these dynamics and provide support.

Postpartum support can have multiple facets, including: individual therapy, couple therapy, lactation support, acupuncture, and naturopathy.  As a psychotherapist at the PWCB, I realize the value and accessibility of these services in supporting parenthood transitions. Our collaboration with Boulder Women’s Care means we are able to offer support very early in the postpartum period, allowing us to successfully address a multitude of things, from challenging feeding dynamics to navigating a traumatic birth.

We look forward to continuing our community partnerships in support of a holistic model of care toward perinatal wellness.

Mind Positive Parenting: A Resource to Know

By Jessica Harrison

With a mental health practice primarily serving young families, I predictably face questions about parenting. I routinely bear witness to the distress that accompanies insecurity, fear and overwhelm in parenthood. This distress is often amplified by pregnancy/postpartum depression and anxiety (or the lingering symptoms and effects of PPD/A as children grow). Plus, we're all familiar with the plethora of expert (and novice) advice ranging dramatically in approach, adding to (causing?) the confusion and frustration. 

The Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety Workbook (and More!)

By Jessica Harrison

Postpartum depression has become a part of the vernacular in many communities, thanks in large part to advocacy efforts emphasizing routine screening and increased training in health care settings. Online and/or phone support networks, such as Baby Blues Connection (local to Portland, OR), Postpartum Support International, and Postpartum Progress, are increasingly common.  Because of this work, more families are receiving appropriate support and postpartum outcomes are improving. 

Six Things You Should Know About Antidepressants and Pregnancy

By Kate Kripke

In light of the recent uproar over the article on antidepressants and pregnancy that was published this week on the New York Times‘ Well Blog, I thought I would pause today on the unknowns that likely burden every single mom who suffers with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD. There is so much mixed-up and contradicting information out there: co-sleep/don’t co-sleep; breast-is-best/healthy mom-is-best; have a birth plan/let go of the birth plan; cloth diaper/disposable diaper; medicine for depression and anxiety is safe/medicine is not safe. As if being a mama wasn’t confusing already, all of this conflicting info is enough to make a mama’s head take a double-spin. And its exhausting!

The Overlap Between Miscarriage, Perinatal Loss, and PPD: 13 Things to know about Grief

By Kate Kripke

Losing a baby though miscarriage, elective termination, stillbirth, childbirth, after a NICU stay, SIDS, or any other time is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult experiences that a parent will ever endure. There are no words to explain the depth of despair that a parent goes through when attempting to understand the shift that occurs when all hopes and expectations suddenly drop out from underneath anything stable.

Can PPD Be Prevented

By Kate Kripke

Is it possible to prevent postpartum depression?

I am asked this question a lot.  Experts believe that because there is no definite way of knowing how a woman’s body will respond to childbirth, so we cannot say that there is a specific prevention, so to speak, for postpartum depression.  However, I do believe that there is much a woman and her family can do during pregnancy that will lessen her chances of a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder like postpartum depression, or that may, at least, play a role in the reduction of symptoms.

PPD and Attachment

By Kate Kripke

Each woman who becomes a mother wants to have a solid, strong, and healthy attachment with her baby.  And with that, I think it’s fair to assume, each mother fears on some level that this will not occur.   Some moms worry that they won’t have the tools to bond and attach appropriately because their own relationships with their parents are conflicted.  Others fear that they won’t be able to create an attachment as strong as the one that they had with their own mom or dad.  Others find that their histories have contributed to a sort of “overcompensation” with their own kids, and they feel that the only way to attach is to give all of themselves.  And some moms may feel that they don’t have the knowledge or experience to attach appropriately with their little ones. Almost every mom who struggles with a mood and anxiety disorder like PPD worries about attachment.  Attachment, it seems, is one of those hidden dilemmas that makes early mothering feel overwhelming for most of us.

10 Things to Consider About Therapy for PPDs

By Kate Kripke

Every time a mom in distress calls me to schedule a new therapy appointment, I am reminded of the courage that this takes. Society just doesn’t set us up for the reality of needing this type of support after having a baby. Women are led to envision romantic moments around breastfeeding, moments cradling a swaddled baby who sleeps peacefully with a light smile on her lips, loving and contented embraces with partners, and sweet jaunts through the park with a baby carriage in which a baby lies peacefully. 

A Non- Pharmaceutical Prescription for Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

By Kate Kripke

Although it would be hugely reassuring if we could pin-point one, specific, cause of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, experts in the field have not yet been able to be absolutely sure what causes these issues.  Actually, what we have found in all of the research and observation is that there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when we try to assess what it is that is causing a mom to suffer. 

Vulnerability and Postpartum Depression

By Kate Kripke

What comes to mind when you hear the word “vulnerability?”  Really, what are the images, words, and reactions that invite themselves along with that word?  My guess is that it is something like this: weakness, fear, shame, powerlessness, and insecurity.  I imagine that, for most of you, the word vulnerability sends with it a warning sign and a very deafening message of “Be Tough!”  I imagine that all of you reading this know what it feels like to be vulnerable and that most of you are working very, very hard to run in the opposite direction.  To prove to others that you are anything but.

The Overlap Between Miscarriage, Perinatal Loss, and PPD: 13 Things to know about Grief

By Kate Kripke

Losing a baby though miscarriage, elective termination, stillbirth, childbirth, after a NICU stay, SIDS, or any other time is, without a doubt, one of the most difficult experiences that a parent will ever endure. There are no words to explain the depth of despair that a parent goes through when attempting to understand the shift that occurs when all hopes and expectations suddenly drop out from underneath anything stable.

A Breathing Meditation for New Moms

By Kate Kripke

Breath is a magnificent thing.  Really.  Of course we need to breathe to exist, but we often forget how important breath is for mental health and  stress management.  Our brains need oxygen to thrive and breath is also a pretty simple tool in practicing mindfulness.   And when we are most present and mindful we are also usually our most grounded.

Psychotherapy Options for Treating PPD

By Kate Kripke

You may have heard it over and over before: One of the best ways to treat a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder like postpartum depression is through therapy. “Find a therapist” is probably the first suggestion that you will hear from people who specialize in these challenges. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, OCD, and adjustment can be understood, worked through, and alleviated though psychotherapy, but what this treatment actually looks like can vary tremendously.

The Healthy Mom Checklist for Postpartum Health

By Kate Kripke

We talk a lot on this blog and Postpartum Progress about what it is like when a mom is NOT well.  But let's pause for just a minute and focus on what might be included in the lives of moms who are. Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders can happen even when the below are maintained, but fact is that the below decrease one's risk of developing (and certainly exacerbating) a PMAD.  So, here you go.

Do You Feel Like Someone is Holding Your Postpartum Depression Against You?

By Kate Kripke

Postpartum depression changes you. There is no doubt about it.  It can also change your partners, children, extended family and friends.  Thankfully and for the most part, these changes are positive ones; although it is certainly difficult to see this side of things when you are smack in the middle of your recovery.  But I can say with complete honesty that when moms have received adequate support during their illness, more times than not, women and families leave behind their postpartum mood and anxiety disorders feeling a greater sense of self, more ability to communicate their needs, and more prepared to keep themselves healthy and teach their little ones to do the same.  I know that it is hard to hear when you are amidst the suffering, but postpartum depression can create opportunities for growth that women never saw coming.

Making the Choice to Get Pregnant if you Struggle with Severe Mental Illness

By Kate Kripke

Let’s say you are in the high-risk category for developing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder like postpartum depression.  You have battled depression, anxiety, OCD, or bipolar throughout your lifetime, and you have been told that the major hormonal and identity shifts that occur during pregnancy and childbirth are likely to push you out of remission, aggravate your symptoms, or lead to even more mental health challenges than you have already faced, like psychosis perhaps.  Maybe you are currently taking medicine and maybe you are not.  Maybe you are willing to continue your medication while pregnant, and maybe you are not.  Maybe you have already had a child and suffered with severe postpartum mental illness including psychosis and maybe you have not. But one thing is for sure: you desperately want a baby and you are scared to death about what this might mean for you.  And for your child.