Thank You. Yes, YOU.

Today, I looked at my inbox and realized I hadn't done that Federated Media thing, and the BlogAds thing, and I needed to reply to comments for my syndicated piece on BlogHer and also to the comments over at my ParentDish column, and I went to write my PD column that's due tomorrow but realized what I was writing wasn't gonna work, and several people have emailed me their Warrior Mom stories that I haven't had a chance to read, plus I owe the people in NJ info on my speech for next week except I haven't really written it yet, and I haven't uploaded Kate's post yet and I still haven't written that story about Sylvia Lasalandra's new book, and I still have to review the nominees for the Dosie Awards since I'm a judge, but I also have to follow up with that lady who hasn't responded to me about the Warrior Mom charms and that other person who hasn't responded about that other project, and oh crap I've got to write some more Daily Hopes because otherwise I'll get behind, and next week I have that speech here in Atlanta and the poor people at MHA are still waiting on me for info for that, and I need to schedule a conference call with the lady who is interested in that research on social media and health, and what about those provider tools I was working on, and please God don't let me forget the March of Dimes chat, and that's just some of the first page of emails on Gmail that I haven't dealt with, and don't even get me started on what a crappy job of fundraising I've done so far for Postpartum Progress the nonprofit, and there are about 45 yellow sticky notes on my desk where I've written down things I need to do except when am I gonna do those … and how the hell am I supposed to get any of this done when it's summer and my kids are home and … AAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So you know what I've been doing? Sitting here looking at your emails. So many of you have been so kind to take time to sit down and write to me about your experience here on Postpartum Progress and how this blog has helped you in some way. I save every single one (including yours Helen, Emily, Claire, Josey, Alena, Rebecca, Dorothy, Susan, Leslie, Megan, Alice, Ann, Melissa, Katie, Jill, Robin, Kristy, Elizabeth, Anna, Beth, Amy, Lauren, Michelle, Darlene, Stephanie, Raquel … and everyone else's … all of you.) Because on the days when I feel overwhelmed and like I'm COMPLETELY BLOWING IT IN A MAJOR WAY, like today, it's your words that keep me going and make me feel like every minute is worth it. So I just want to take a minute to stop everything and thank you — thankyouthankyouthankyou — from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement and your thoughtful words about Postpartum Progress. I cherish your words.

Now, don't go and make me cry about it, because I have work to do.

When the Risk of Not Getting Help for PPD Just Isn’t Worth It

Babies are resilient. There’s no doubt about it. But babies and children may be negatively affected by a mom’s untreated depression, anxiety, or other mood disorder during pregnancy or postpartum. And it seems to me that this might not be a risk worth taking. Moms need help for PPD.

Please note carefully the specifics of what I said above: “Babies and children may be affected by a mother’s UNTREATED depression, anxiety, or other mood disorder during pregnancy or postpartum.” Many, many of you can attest to the fact that children whose mothers suffered from prenatal or postpartum depression or anxiety and received treatment are just fine- even thriving.

Moms who make it a priority to get help for PPD, follow treatment recommendations from a trained professional, get well, and take care of themselves do so to benefit not just themselves but also their children. And most of these kiddos go on to be happy and healthy preschoolers, teens and adults.

What we worry about is when a mom’s depression or anxiety goes untreated. It is these instances when there is high potential for emotional, social and developmental delays in babies and children. I say this fully knowing that this fact may bring additional layers of anxiety to women who already suffer, and I am hopeful that those women understand that this post is not a condemnation or a finger shake. It is, instead, a compassionate offering through a realistic look at the risks that may come to those who do not reach out for the support that they deserve.

I am motivated to write this after reading an article in the New York Times Magazine that talks about Depression in Preschoolers. While we know that there are many factors contributing to the development of depressive symptoms in children this young, and that often these children do not have parents who are depressed themselves (and, conversely, having a depressed parent does not necessarily mean that a young child will also be depressed), we do know that many of these little people may not have received the empathetic attunement and emotional mirroring from their mothers that they need to thrive. Babies need to be attended to and heard, they need to be held and comforted, they desire eye contact and voice recognition, and if a mother is unable to provide these things because she is depressed or anxious, a baby may suffer the consequences.

So, here are some of the risks for babies and children whose mothers suffer from UNTREATED antenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety:

  • Pregnant women who are depressed are less likely to take adequately care of themselves and their unborn babies.
  • Preterm labor has been linked to depression and anxiety in pregnant mothers.
  • Preeclampsia has been linked to depression and anxiety in pregnant mothers.
  • Depression and anxiety during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight in babies.
  • Babies whose mothers were depressed or anxious during pregnancy are more likely to have eating and sleeping challenges and are more likely to be difficult to soothe.
  • Attachment and bonding may be negatively affected and this can have an impact on a child’s ability to form healthy relationships during school-aged years and on through adulthood.
  • Fathers, whose partners are depressed, are also more likely to develop depressive symptoms in the postpartum period. If this happens, neither parent may be able to attend to the emotional needs of their newborn.
  • Mothers who have postpartum depression tend to spend less time engaging in eye contact, mirroring facial and voice expressions, and casual play with their babies. All of these activities are important for bonding and attachment.

With this said, we know that other caregivers, such as a father, grandparent, other family member, friends, and nannies can provide the emotional reciprocity that is needed if and when a mom is temporarily unable. While a baby needs its mother first and foremost, that child will absolutely be okay if, temporarily, it is getting all of its physical and emotional needs met by someone else. What matters most, truly, is that mom gets the support that she needs to feel well so that she can care for her babe in the ways that are important to both of them.

So, moms, if you are suffering, please get help. For you and for your little one.

Kate Kripke, LCSW

Suffering Postpartum Depression? Announcing Daily Hope

postpartum depressionI am so excited to launch a new feature here at Postpartum Progress. It’s called Daily Hope. This free service is specifically for those of you who are currently suffering from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, antenatal depression or related illnesses.

Learn more and sign up here: http://postpartumprogress.org/tools/daily-hope/

Have a friend that you think could use this, or a patient? Be sure to let them know!! If you join, you can opt out (unsubscribe) at any time.

I’m looking forward to providing some daily inspiration for everyone out there who is suffering at this very minute.

Daily Hope and Postpartum Progress the Blog are services of Postpartum Progress Inc. the Nonprofit, which is working to vastly improve the support and services available to women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, primarily through the use of technology.

The 21-Day Self-Care Challenge: Day 13

LIVING Self-Care

Back for the 21-day self-care challenge? Aren’t you proud?!

Like most women, you’re an expert multi-tasker, priding yourself on answering the phone, stirring the stew, juggling the baby, and writing a check–all at once. But we’re fooling ourselves about multi-tasking’s effectiveness. Research shows that efficiency increases when we really tune into the process.

Experiment with this by practicing mindfulness, the antidote to tuned-out multi-tasking. Pick a treat that you really relish; perhaps chocolate or the freshest piece of fruit. Sniff the aroma. Feel your mouth salivate. Touch the tiniest bit to your tongue. Is it sweet, salty, cold, juicy? Hold the first bite in your mouth for a moment. Swirl it around, note the feeling as your teeth begin to chew. Continue to consume the treat slowly, zeroed in on every sensation.

Practice this mantra: “Live in the moment, do what matters most, forget the rest.”

Copyright © 2010 by Ann Dunnewold and Diane Sanford, authors of Life Will Never Be The Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide.