A traumatic birth can be physically and emotionally devastating. Social support for those going through trauma treatment and for long-term survivors of trauma can improve quality of life, reducing anger, anxiety and depression.
Are You There Alone? is written by Suzanne O’Malley, an investigative reporter. She followed the tragedy in real time. She was present through Andrea Yates’ 5 weeks of court proceedings. To write this book, she read all of the transcribed trial testimony, 2000 pages of Andrea Yates’ medical records and interviewed nearly 100 people, including Ms. Andrea Yates and Mr. Rusty Yates, her ex-husband, to write this book.
DBT for Managing Emotions for New Moms
Taking care of a newborn is all encompassing. It is exhausting. And it’s natural to want to give our all to our baby.
How can a new mom maintain emotional balance? It would be insulting to give a simple answer to this complicated and nuanced question.
In May of 2018, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) expanded the definition of postpartum care of mom and baby and embraced the inclusive concept of the “fourth trimester.” For decades, American mom-baby advocacy groups have used the fourth trimester as a way to conceptualize newborn care in the first three months. And now ACOG validates and identifies this conceptualization of the fourth trimester as a sensitive period of development for both mom and baby.
Since the 1950’s, the mom-baby advocacy groups, such as La Leche League, conceptualized newborn parenting in the fourth trimester as informed by the human evolutionary scale. They normalize baby’s crying by framing it as a signal to be picked up and comforted by his or her caregivers. La Leche League says that it’s normal to provide comfort for a newborn baby by way of nursing, carrying and co-sleeping. All these behaviors imitate the womb environment of warmth, movement and lots of touch. La Leche League normalizes that a baby’s crying is his or her way of communicating with and connecting with their loved ones, and is not a form of manipulation. La Leche League says “It’s normal to ‘Pick the baby up!’ ” Using the construct of the fourth trimester, La Leche League is a positive community intervention for education about and parenting the newborn.
Postpartum Depression, Shame and Stigma
Clara just had a baby. But she was not feeling very…well, happy. Yes, she felt overpowering love for her new baby. But she also felt irritable, depressed, nauseous and she was crying alot. Even worse, she started having nightmares. Scary nightmares that she dared not talk to anyone else about. They were, well, just plain disturbing. They centered around things that she imagined could just happen to her baby that were outside of her control. She was trying to hide behind a veil of smiles and perky laughter.
Clara felt very scared and very, very, ashamed of herself. She wondered why she wasn’t happy. She didn’t want to admit she was depressed. After all, she couldn’t possibly have a mental illness! Weren’t people who are depressed kind of crazy and lazy? What couldn’t she talk herself out of this?
5 MindBody Ways to Care for Mental Health During Pregnancy
Be mindful of your mental health during pregnancy. For many women, pregnancy is the most joyous times of their lives, but for some women it can be a time of increased anxiety and depression. If you have certain risk factors, such as a personal or family history of trauma, depression, anxiety or bipolar disease, you have an increased chance of becoming depressed, anxious or having a manic episode in your perinatal time.
Stress during and after pregnancy increases the likelihood of depression or anxiety. Mindfully taking care of yourself is just as important as your doctor visits and decorating the nursery!
Hire a postpartum doula to help in the fourth trimester
What is a postpartum doula? A postpartum doula is a woman hired to “mother the mother” after childbirth. Sometimes postpartum doulas say they are “grandmothers for hire!” Usually a postpartum doula is an experienced mother herself, so she knows what type of help is needed during the babymoon. The postpartum doula fills multiple roles in emotional support, babycare, and helps with light household chores. But, a postpartum doula doesn’t provide medical advice or assistance.
Last week, we discussed the story of Betty’s traumatic birth here. This week, we’ll discuss Betty’s healing plan from a traumatic birth. Betty ‘s husband helped her find a therapist who specialized in trauma and perinatal mood disorders by using Google and looking through Psychology Today profiles. Betty was fortunate in that she had babysitting assistance from her mother and mother-in-law. Betty also was able to take extend time off from work, as she had been steadily employed at the same company for many years, her work was well respected and she had an understanding supervisor. Not all woman have these options. Betty knew this and she was grateful for the foundation that she had in place.
Betty approached her first visit with her therapist with trepidation. Betty was cautious. Like many trauma survivors, she didn’t want to endlessly talk about her trauma, because, somehow, talking about the incident felt like it might be re-traumatizing to her. But she was feeling bad and she was curious about the new trauma treatments called Somatic Experiencing® (SE) and EMDR. She had researched EMDR and found there was 30 years of research supporting its efficacy, so she was hopeful.