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.

Traumatic Events and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

By Kate Kripke

I think that it is probably fair to say that the traumatic events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week have left most of us feeling emotion that we were not prepared for.  Most of us, whether or not we are parents ourselves, whether or not we are close in vicinity to that little part of the world, whether or not we work in schools or have elementary-aged children or know someone who does... most of us, whether or not we are currently struggling with a postpartum anxiety disorder, will feel the ripple effect of the unfathomable trauma that occurred.  Many of us will feel anger, rage, fear, sadness, and confusion at some point if not all at once. While we feel these things, there is also the important reminder of perspective, resilience, and hope... all elements of emotional wellness that are not necessarily felt right away or that come without effort, but certainly are elements of emotional wellness that are needed to make it through such crises.

Getting Postpartum Anxiety Off Your Back

By Kate Kripke

Postpartum anxiety is probably the most common beast in my office. There are certainly differing shapes that this big, furry, gnarly-clawed beast takes—general anxiety, panic, OCD for example—but usually the annoying, mean, and seemingly relentless monster has a big “A” stamped on his forehead. And this monster is ferocious at times, making it impossible for moms to sleep, eat, breathe, and think clearly. He is on a serious mission, no doubt. Sometimes he is so big and impending that I get a sense of his foul breath from my chair. Even though it is not me who he is chasing, I get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be the mom who is living in his humongous shadow.  Not good.