Perinatal mental health treatment encompasses a wide variety of therapeutic modalities, to include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) just to name a few. It is best practice for clinicians who work with this population to have undergone at least some formal training with a reputable organization, and some clinicians opt for certification. I received my training from Postpartum Support International (PSI), a global non-profit dedicated to connecting individuals and families with resources and information to support them before, during, and after welcoming a baby into their lives, as well as in the event of pregnancy or infant loss. I subsequently went on to get certified in perinatal mental health, and I complete continuing education trainings to maintain this certification.
Perinatal mental health unfortunately used to be a taboo topic, and it is only recently that people have started sharing their experiences of mood disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar I or II disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), posttraumatic stress disorder, and psychosis in their journeys to becoming parents. Research shows that 1 in 5 mothers will experience clinical levels of depression and/or anxiety before and/or after baby’s arrival. This number is significantly higher for mothers of color (almost 1 in 2). 1 in 10 fathers also experience clinical depression and/or anxiety connected with becoming a parent.
Perinatal mental health disorders often result from a combination of biological factors and life experiences. Whether you become a parent of a baby via conceiving naturally, Assisted Reproductive Technology, Third Party Reproduction, adoption, etc., navigating this transition can feel overwhelming, scary, and isolating. Experiences such as pregnancy and infant loss, infertility, and lack of resources and support can significantly contribute to perinatal mental health issues. It is possible to both wholeheartedly love your baby and struggle with distressing thoughts and feelings. Social media can be a double-edged sword in that it allows parents to connect with one another to form villages, and the never-ending pictures of seemingly perfect parents with perfect babies can cause individuals to perceive that they are alone in their experiences and that the only explanation is that they are “bad parents.”
Perinatal mental health is much more than just individual therapy in a safe and non-judgmental space. Perinatal mental health therapists provide clients with resources and ideas to help them access a variety of supports and to develop or strengthen their village. If you think you may be struggling with a perinatal mental health issue, please contact me to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.