Katherine Stone

is the creator of this blog, and the founder and executive director of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the 15 most influential patient advocates to follow. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

2nd Annual Warrior Mom® Conference: Time Off For Mom

2016 WMC LogoToday’s post comes from 2016 Warrior Mom® Conference speaker and attendee Kelly Bauer, with the help of some of the incredible women who will come together on October 14th and 15th in Atlanta at the conference. Kelly is a mother, wife, writer, and storyteller. On her blog, MotherhoodMisfit.com, she discusses motherhood, her journey through postpartum anxiety and OCD, and her experience with grief after losing her unborn daughter, Clara, to Spina Bifida, 22 weeks into pregnancy. She will be presenting a session entitled “Momposters: Why Real Moms Feel Like Frauds” at this year’s conference.

In the next few days, nearly 200 women, the majority of them survivors of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, will descend upon Atlanta for the 2nd annual Warrior Mom® Conference. It is an event which many of us have been looking upon with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Personally, these days leading up to the conference have been a poignant reminder of just how badly I need the break.

Yesterday, my son came home with some bug bites which he had gotten while at daycare. These things happen of course, and so I put some ointment on them and put him to bed, not really giving it a second thought. Later, I awoke in the middle of the night in a panic, overwhelmed, with an intense drive to check on his bites. I wasn’t checking for anything in particular … I was just … checking. It’s sort of what I do. You see, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Oh, and also PTSD. I know … I’m a blast at parties. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night gripped with fear I wish that I could be anywhere else, just temporarily. It is in those moments that I wish, most desperately, for a vacation from my mind and it’s fearful whims, even briefly.

The guilt follows soon thereafter. A little voice inside my head tells me that to want to be temporarily elsewhere must mean that I am a terrible mother.  Surely good mothers don’t want to be away from their families, right?


Those of us who are gathering for the Warrior Mom® Conference will be doing just that – spending time with each other, away from our families. Well, we’ll be doing that and learning, laughing and loving of course. Some of us do so reservedly, and understandably so. For even though most of us know that to desire time away, in the company of women who understand and support you, is a completely healthy thing to want, we still sometimes cling to the mom guilt which tells us that we must always be sacrificing ourselves. Some of us still battle mental health issues which sit perched on our shoulders, whispering doubt into our ears about the idea of being far from the safety of our homes. These malicious little shoulder whisperers tell us that even the exhaustion, depression, and fear are safer, because with them we are familiar. With them, at least, we know where we stand.

Does that sound like you, mama? It’s okay if it does. Sometimes that sounds like me, too.

As an antidote to that doubt, I’d like to share with you some reasons to spend time away for you. Specifically, I’d like to share reasons to attend the Warrior Mom® Conference, from the mothers who are attending themselves. Below are some quotes from mothers who are going to this year’s conference, explaining exactly why they decided to go. You’ll see that their reasons are as varied as the walks of life from which they come. I hope that among them, you find a reason which silences your own doubts.

“I am coming so I can have ‘me’ time, free of the responsibility of being Mommy/Wife/Chef/Maid, etc. So I can socialize with other women, surrounding myself with people who understand all the feelings surrounding motherhood. For support, hugs, learning and laughter.” -Mariah W.

“I’m going because I honestly want to embrace and hug every single woman there. I need that energy and I need that sense of community.” – Jennifer S.

“I periodically consider backing out. I’m so overwhelmed by life. I am still going because I need the time to focus on me and to learn. Time to be with other adults who get it. I’m so anxious about traveling and that’s where I’m getting stuck. But everything is paid for and I feel I need to go. I know once I’m there it will be fabulous and awesome.” – Julie V.

“I’m going (again) because it was a great learning experience. It is also a time for me to unwind (and hubby to take over child responsibility). It’s an amazing feeling to be in a room with people who get it, who have similar stories. There is this incredible bond we have. I am going for hugs. I am going to share my story to help others. I am going to learn from others. I am also going because everything is paid for and I’ve never been to Atlanta.” – Stephanie B.

“Because being with Warrior Moms is one of the only times I find I don’t feel like I have to take care of anyone else. That other people rush to help fill me up.” -Susan P.

“I’m going to take care of me. I need a break. I need time to myself to learn and spend time with strong women.” – Bridget D.

“I’m going because I want to be surrounded with amazing women that just get it. I can be me and not feel like I have to prove anything to anyone. To learn as much as I can so I can bring it back home and help other mamas. To be able to just relax and let go and not have to worry about the everyday things that have me stressed and overwhelmed.” – Brittany G.

“I’m going because I have to. Can’t articulate fancy reasons. My soul demands it.” – Courtney H.

“You don’t need to do or be anything at the conference, just show up. That’s it. And feel yourself being held up by all the other mamas. Hearing other women’s stories, in person, is something so profound. I’m going because I have to. Because I went last year and I still don’t have all the right words to describe how profound it was and maybe I never will. It’s such a powerful feeling.” – Danielle N.

“I’m going because I feel like this is the final step in my healing. Because when I wake up I don’t feel scared or anxious or alone anymore. Because going means I have acknowledged how far I’ve come and where I’m going. Because I want to celebrate all the successes we’ve achieved and be inspired to help mamas achieve that same success.” – Carolyn S.

“Because last year I walked in empty and left full. Of energy, of inspiration, of purpose, of ideas.

Because this year has been so hard and I need a refill.

Because I won’t have to change a diaper or remind anyone to pee.

Because I’ll get to sleep in a dry bed with no one on top of me.

Because I’ll get hugs and drinks and crying and laughter and learning and knitting and geeking out with the only women who really understand.

Because if I don’t get away I might just crumble into a billion pieces.

And you. I’m coming to see you.”

-Graeme S.

As for me? I’m going in order to learn from women who are further in their recovery from me. I’m also going so that I can inspire women who may not be as far in recovery as me. Hell, I’m going so I can remind myself that there ARE other women who have walked and are walking the same path as me. I am going because those women understand me. They hold space for me. I am going so that I can participate in that glorious exchange of energy that happens when you bring women together who have survived and are thriving.

Whatever the reason, if you’re coming to the Warrior Mom® Conference this year, know that we are so glad to have you. And if you couldn’t make it this year, that’s fine too. We are still holding space and love for you. Also know that we can’t wait until the day you are able to join, and can share with us the unique reason that brings you.

Until then, here’s to being a great mom who occasionally wants to spend time away.


Thank you so much to our Warrior Mom® Conference 2016 title sponsors Cotton Babies and Sage Therapeutics, as well as conference sponsors Northside Hospital, Write Notepads, Bloom Beautifully, the National Council for Behavioral Health and See Baby Midwifery.



Sage Therapeutics


Northside Hospital



Amy Dingler Sponsor


Bloom Beautifully

See Baby Midwifery



NICHD Moms’ Mental Health Matters Initiative Launches

We’re so pleased to welcome Dr. Triesta Fowler to Postpartum Progress today. Triesta runs the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) National Child and Maternal Health Education Program. We worked with NICHD to bring them together with Warrior Moms at our conference last year in order to provide valuable patient input into the development of materials that can be used to help moms and families. Here’s the wonderful result of that work:

mmhm_productcollage_nichq_largeIn July of 2015, we had the privilege of meeting some of you at the Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom® Conference. We showed you preliminary versions of materials that would eventually become the cornerstone of  Moms’ Mental Health Matters initiative, our effort to equip moms just like you with the tools to handle perinatal anxiety and depression. We aimed to develop something that could resonate with all women, and we needed your candid input.

You provided insight into every aspect of the content and the design of the materials, explaining to us how these tools would have impacted you and your families. We learned that it was crucial that we expand the focus beyond postpartum depression, offering information about both anxiety and depression, occurring both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. You suggested language that would resonate with mothers and their partners to empower them to get the help they need. You offered feedback on how we could best use images and design elements in ways that would draw you in. Most importantly, you drew from your past experiences, selflessly sharing your stories in order to help future mothers.

We couldn’t be more excited to announce that the Moms’ Mental Health Matters initiative has launched, and the materials that you helped create are here! You can learn more about the initiative and view, download, or order the materials here. Please feel free to share this information and these materials throughout your communities. We hope that they will help you continue the important work that you do to support moms with depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy.


Triesta Fowler, M.D.

Coordinator, National Child and Maternal Health Education Program

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institute of Health

Triesta Fowler Lee

Postpartum Depression In Other Languages: Spanish & Chinese

postpartum depression in other languagesOne of our goals at Postpartum Progress this year has been to start translating our resources for postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression in other languages.

We’ve chosen to focus at the beginning on our New Mom Mental Health Checklist. This checklist is used by moms and healthcare providers to help start a conversation about how the mothers are feeling, what symptoms they might be experiencing and what risk factors they have.  Therapists and hospitals all over the country are adopting it, and they have downloaded it thousands of times.

We launched a version of the checklist for Black and African Diaspora women earlier this year. Today we are excited to launch the Spanish and Simplified Chinese versions.

We selected a translation service upon the recommendation of people at the Office of Minority Health. We wanted a service known not just for translating words but for doing so according to the national standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS). Our organization feels strongly about talking about maternal mental health in language moms use, not professionals, and we’re known for using what we’ve always called “plain mama English.” We’re excited to now have Spanish and Chinese, and you can expect more languages forthcoming.

As with everything else we do, our resources for postpartum depression in other languages are free to anyone. All you have to do is click the links below and fill out the form to download them! (Note: The checklist will look blurry on the link. That’s so people don’t download them without submitting a request form. Your copy will be crystal clear, we promise!) 

New Mom Mental Health Checklist – Spanish/Lista de verificacion para nuevas mamas pera obtener ayuda de saluda mental materna

New Mom Mental Health Checklist – Simplified Chinese/新产妇精神健康帮助核查单

We’re so grateful to all of our amazing donors. Without you we wouldn’t be able to continually create and offer resources for maternal mental health. Thank you!!!!!!

Parenting After Childhood Trauma

parenting after childhood traumaDid you experience childhood trauma? It’s worth thinking about if you are pregnant or postpartum and struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety or PTSD. Or even, actually, if you’re just a mom out there reading this and wondering how early traumatic events could possibly affect your parenting.

Childhood trauma can include any event during which you felt (even if you don’t remember) helpless, scared, horrified, out of control and/or overwhelmed. These events or situations can include:

  • extreme poverty
  • homelessness
  • a natural disaster or war happening where you lived
  • physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • neglect
  • domestic violence in the home, such as seeing your mother choked or hit
  • a parent with alcoholism or addiction
  • a parent with a mental illness
  • a parent in prison
  • the death of a parent
  • a parent who left your family (abandonment)

These are events that obviously can deeply affect anyone. And yet as adults we often think what “happened in the past shouldn’t affect me” because it’s “old news.” We think as adults we should no longer be impacted by experiences that happened decades ago.

The truth is childhood trauma can actually change how your body works, including your brain. This is why it has the power to affect you later in life, even when you are all grown up.

When I think about the traumas I went through as a child, it makes things that have happened to me and continue to happen to me as a mother make a lot more sense.

When I was born I was placed for adoption. I lived with my adoptive parents for a few months — I don’t even know how many, to be honest — and then was returned back to my biological parents, two young college students who hadn’t planned on getting married or having a baby. I lived with parental alcoholism at a young age and also parental mental illness. It’s no surprise to me, when I think about it, that I later suffered postpartum anxiety and OCD after the birth of my first child.

I was essentially hysterically vigilant over Jackson from the moment he was born. I worried I wouldn’t be able to take care of him enough. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t relax. It felt very important to protect him, so much so that all of my intrusive thoughts were about me being the one to cause him hurt. I think now about the fact that my own experience in the first few unstable months of my life MUST have impacted how I was thinking and behaving when Jack was a newborn.

In my tween years, I was fondled by a strange man in a Sears department store. My dad was in a different part of the store with my brother, and I was alone in the girls’ section when he approached me. He tried to get me to leave the store with him but I managed to run away. I can’t remember a lot of the details but I do remember standing in the store while people looked for him, and having all of these salespeople worrying over me and talking about what happened while I was standing right there.

It’s no surprise then, that I have a thing about my 10-year-old daughter walking through the neighborhood by herself. I feel I have to watch her as she goes. HAVE TO.  The other girls her age are walking around alone, yet I feel a compulsion in my very cells to stand on the porch and watch her to make sure she arrives safely.

Parenting can be a trigger for those of us who have experienced childhood trauma. You might find yourself in a situation with your child that reminds you, even if you don’t recognize it, of something that happened to you. You might find yourself acting in ways as a parent that you don’t quite understand. Can you think of ways you might be reacting right now that could be tied back to your experiences as a kid?

What You Should Know About Childhood Trauma

If you went through childhood trauma, you might find yourself feeling some of the following ways:

  • always on guard
  • always vigilant
  • like you can only let a few people, if any, get really close to you
  • unsafe, or very focused on maintaining your safety and protecting yourself
  • anxious
  • unable to relax

You also might experience:

  • higher stress levels
  • shame or guilt
  • low self-esteem
  • feelings of emptiness
  • depression, anxiety, PTSD
  • physical ailments like headaches, panic attacks, stomach upset

Here’s what you should know: You can heal. If you managed to get through childhood trauma then you have a source of strength. You already have tools you might not even know you have.  You’ve already figured out how to keep going in life, and you are already doing things, great things, to take care of your child DESPITE what you experienced. If you feel that you are being impacted by traumatic events in your life in ways you don’t like, you can reach out for help.

You have many choices and options when it comes to getting support in healing from trauma. They include attending a support group, trying art therapy, learning how to use mindfulness tools and other coping techniques, trying EMDR therapy or ACT therapy, seeing a counselor, or even working through a workbook that offers exercises in healing from trauma like this one and this one.

You might also like:

When Postpartum Depression Rises Up Out of the Buried Traumas of Childhood

How Your Own Mother & Childhood Trauma Can Impact Postpartum Depression