Something I didn't expect my struggle with postpartum depression anxiety to bring me was this drive to learn knew things and meet knew people. The further along I come in my recovery, the more grateful I am for the path this illness has led me down and certainly for the people I have met along the way.
Today I share with you a slideshow/movie creation I made. Ask my husband about my technology skills, and he might just laugh. But this project has driven me to open my mind and really learn how to do some techy things. I originally wanted to play it to Rachel Platten's "Stand By You" song, because that song resonates so much with me when I look at the relationships I have built over the last year, but you know, copyright issues.
Thank you to all the moms in this video and to all the supporters that keep Rebecca and I on the path of this mission.
And to all the moms in the hole, we are here to help you out. We are here to Stand By You.
Holding the Umbrella,
You know it's funny how things happen in my mind. Elizabeth and I really didn't have a planned post for today and we had just decided we were going to link to something else when out of nowhere it hit me.
Hello Earth Day!
But you see that's not where my brain stopped no, it then jumped over to planting trees, fun projects with the kids, then moms and of course "Mother Earth" and then the natural health and holistic health movements. Seriously if we've never had the opportunity to sit down and brainstorm together let's make a brain date you'll find my stream of consciousness, especially when well caffeinated, is really quite fun.
Now back to Earth Day- April 22- marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Now if you're a history nerd like myself go click Earth Day to learn about this one day were twenty million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate their desire for a more sustainable environment. Hey I wonder how many moms were out marching for Earth that day. I don't want to get into a rant about various religious-political-social issues surrounding Earth Day or Creation Care Day or whatever you choose to call it. Once the gears in my head started spinning I really kept thinking of how the natural parenting community, or as we sometimes call it "crunchy mom" community often sees things, especially when it comes to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. A lot of moms are concerned about taking medications, especially while breastfeeding or are simply interested in seeking more natural remedies for all ailments, including postpartum depression.
If I had a dollar for every time I saw a post in a moms group asking something like "what are natural remedies for anxiety" or "what oils are good for depression" I wouldn't have a mortgage to pay anymore. Seriously.
So, with this in mind, today I want to touch on a few complementary options for treating prenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety.
I just want to throw this out there, there is nothing wrong with deciding to take medication for mental illness. Medication combined with therapy is the most effective known treatment for maternal mood disorder.
As always, consult with your health care provider before starting or stopping any treatment plan, be it pharmaceutical or otherwise.
I also want to mention the value of Mom's groups, you know the kind where you get together with other moms with or without your baby and chat about various topics. Research has shown Peer-to-Peer support is an integral and effective part of recovery from maternal mental illness. It improves outcomes, improves quality of life, helps connect people to treatment, reduces severity, and is cost effective. If you are able to get to a group or even a play date with a couple of other moms, go for it. This may seem like a huge task but if you go, odds are you'll be glad you did. Let us know if you need information on motherhood groups near you, we'll be glad to share a list of resources.
Now if you are able to get out of your home (I say able because I know depression and anxiety can make just stepping outside a huge feat) you may want to consider what are called Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM. According to the MAYO Clinic, nearly 40 percent of adults report using complementary and alternative medicine. Doctors are implementing CAM therapies too; often mixing them with more mainstream options — hence the term "integrative medicine."
What is considered “alternative medicine” changes constantly because different forms undergo research and testing over time and tend to become more mainstream. To make sense of the many therapies available, it helps to look at how they're classified by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):
Whole Medical Systems
A system is more than a single remedy, it's actually many practices or remedies that center on a philosophy, for example:
Thought to strengthen the communication between your mind and your body. CAM practitioners say these two systems must be in harmony or balanced for you to be well. Examples are meditation, prayer, relaxation and art therapies.
I'd like to mention the concept of mindfulness and its power when it comes to motherhood. Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. Practicing mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Here in Tampa Bay, we have professionals that specialize in Mindfulness, Evelyn Ojeda-Fox of Red Tent Collective is one such professional. I encourage you to check out her Dunedin based business and ask her about services such as mother's circle, motherhood mentoring, even Craniosacral Therapy. Many moms rave about the mother's group that meets there each week!
Biologically based practices
These are dietary supplements and herbal remedies taken as teas, oils, syrups, powders, tablets or capsules. Using ingredients found in nature, these are very popular with people interested in using herbs in place of or in addition to prescription medicines.
Here's a brief article on herbal treatment for anxiety courtesy of the MAYO clinic. I'd like to point out the importance of knowing potential side effects and adverse reactions to herbals and please use caution if you are breastfeeding.
If you're interested in learning more about using herbs or many other holistic options, our friend and supporter De'Nicea Hilton, DOM, AP, holds a Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is certified as a diplomat of Oriental Medicine with a thorough knowledge of Acupuncture and Point Location, Biomedicine and Chinese Herbology. Dr. D as she is affectionately called recently shared more information with us about her practice and working with women experiencing in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She offers appointments in both Clearwater and Temple Terrace. The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. is looking forward to inviting Dr. D to join our Temple Terrace Peer-to Peer support group coming soon!
Manipulation and body-based practices
Chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation and massage are examples.
Sometimes the simple luxuriousness of a massage or the relaxation that comes with a visit to the chiropractor can do a world of good for a mother whose feeling overwhelmed and on the verge of burning out. Chiropractic care in particular is associated with relieving some of the physical ailments of postpartum adjustment. As an example, the hormone relaxin, which is crucial for loosening ligaments in preparation for birth, lingers in the body for 6 months to a year after pregnancy, leaving your pelvic and sacral regions vulnerable to misalignment and injury. Regular chiropractic adjustment is believed to help maintain stability in the region, helping you to recover quicker and more effectively. Dr. Shannon Whitlock, not only offers home and birth center visits, but she holds specials classes and mom's morning out events. Remember those moms groups I mentioned, find one.
A buildup of anxiety manifests itself in tense muscles-a feeling of stiffness and tightness. Hands-on massage therapy treatment can increase relaxation, while helping the body to grow stronger. For our friends on the other side of Tampa Bay, especially if you are currently pregnant, check out Melissa of Rising Lotus Maternity Services and over here in East Hillsborough, Anita Griffin Thomas is a licensed massage therapist who works with chiropractors, neurologists, immunologists, OB/Gyns and orthopedists to achieve the best possible outcome for their patients.
Some CAM practitioners believe invisible energy force flows through your body, and when this energy flow is blocked or unbalanced you can become sick. Different traditions call this energy by different names, such as chi, prana and life force. The goal of these therapies is to unblock or re-balance your energy force. Energy therapies include qi gong, therapeutic touch, reiki, and magnet therapy.
Things to keep in mind
Many doctors practicing today didn't receive training in CAM or integrative medicine, so they may not feel comfortable making recommendations in this area. Bare in mind that mainstream therapies have been researched and tested for safety and effectiveness. Science based evidence does exist for some CAM, for many there is still a lot of unknowns.
Sadly, there are CAM practitioners who make exaggerated and sometimes outright false claims about curing diseases. If your CAM practitioner encourages you to skip treatment from your doctor or therapist be very aware. Mental illness is still a medical condition and it's crucial to ensure proper care and treatment. Large scale, carefully controlled medical studies are costly. Trials for therapies are often funded by big companies that develop and sell drugs. Fewer resources exist to support trials of CAM therapies. That's why National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was established — to foster research into CAM and make the findings available to the public.
Talk to your doctor about risks and benefits of any therapy you're considering especially if you are pregnant, have other medical problems or take prescription medicines. Don't stop or change your prescription medications — without talking to your doctor first. Finally, be sure to keep your doctor updated on any alternative therapies you're using, including herbal and dietary supplements.
One thing I did not get into here is essential oils. Again there's just not a lot of research and I don't want to give unsafe information to anyone. So I will offer this, if you like the smell and want to diffuse some oils or maybe wear a special skin safe blend, go for it. Please be very cautious when using essential oils as injuries can occur.
In addition to essential oil use I did not talk about placenta encapsulation. I just want to touch on it real quick, since I have written about it before, while there is no science-based evidence confirming that placenta consumption can improve postpartum adjustment there are numerous accounts of anecdotal evidence from moms who have tried placenta encapsulation or placenta smoothies. I cannot tell you for certain that consuming your placenta will improve your mood, speed your recovery, or promote breastfeeding success but it may work for you. Perhaps even the placebo effect is worthwhile. We have been fortunate to work with many placenta specialists, specifically broadening their knowledge of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and are more than glad to help you narrow down your search.
And the last thing I want to mention, is go outside. Plant a tree if you like (this seems like a lot of work) or simply sit in the sunshine breathing in fresh air. Just being outdoors has been proven effective at boosting one's mood. I used to sit on my porch steps nursing my baby in the afternoons just to get my fresh air and sunshine fix and I felt great after each time. In fact, I suggest finding a great moms group that has outdoor meet ups and play dates because, well, outdoors is good for moms and kids. I can even help you find one!
Umbrella is open, today's forecast is a Purple Rain,
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Cesarean moms have different battles during their perinatal period. It is common for moms of babies birthed through surgery to have increased baby blues as they learn to cope with their birth story. Cesarean birth also increases risks for more extensive forms of perinatal mood or anxiety disorders.
Full disclosure, I personally, have not had a cesarean, but as a birth doula, I know the way the air feels tight when the decision is about to be made to move from the labor suite to surgery. I also have seen the strength, determination, and love these moms have, and it's no different than any other mom birthing their baby.
I find it fitting that Cesarean Awareness Month is followed by Perinatal Mental Health Week. Having any unplanned surgery can bring havoc to your emotional state and mental health, let alone one that is responsible for safely bringing your child into the world.
It is common for moms that delivery via cesarean to have mixed emotions. If you are a cesarean mom suffering with feelings you can't quite explain, or a guilt you don't deserve, I highly recommend visiting an ICAN meeting. As with most things, discussing your feelings with others that have been there too can be healing.
It is important to be aware of how our births affect our sense of self. It is a moment in our lives that will change us forever.
It is so important to remember that birth, like everything is not a right vs wrong dichotomy. There is no hard, fast rule.
We also need to know how our language can affect other moms. We have to drop the judgmental language or tone at the door, and be supportive of each mom's story, especially because life doesn't come with a rewrite option.
I am going to link back to Rebecca's early post about Birth Shame because I feel it is applicable here again.
I hope that we can all have more compassion for those around us and their stories. Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the difference.
To all the moms that brought their baby earth side via surgery; I know you are amazing.
Note: to support your local ICAN chapter and enjoy a good night out (SELF CARE!) check out MOMPROM!
We were first inspired by Lauren DePaola, the CEO/Founder of Postpartum Wellness & Family Counseling in Gainesville, to contact our County Board of Commissioners and our Mayor's office. She shared her wording of the proclamations she had submitted to Alachua County and the City of Jacksonville. We ran with it.
We are so excited and proud to live in a city and county where the elected officials hear the voices of the people and act. Thank you, Mayor Bob Buckhorn for the pictured Perinatal Mental Health Week Proclamation. We look forward to receiving the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioner's proclamation in the next few weeks. The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. has big plans for this inaugural year and intends to continue with our mission to educate and bring awareness about perinatal mental health issues every day of the year.
You can read the County Commissioner's Proclamation in plain text below.
Come celebrate Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week with us on May 3, 2016 at Tampa General Hospital.
WHEREAS, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are a spectrum of mental health issues that manifest during pregnancy or shortly after birth; and
WHEREAS, perinatal mental health is an important issue to mothers, fathers, families, infants, and health care providers; and
WHEREAS, many people are not screened or treated for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders because they may lack comprehensive health care, an understanding of the disorder, or knowledge of where to go for help and care; and
WHEREAS, families of all races, income levels, ages, and backgrounds are profoundly impacted, contributing to developmental and behavioral issues and attachment disorders in young children; and
WHEREAS, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are treatable with timely therapy, community-based support services, and medications; and
WHEREAS, increased education and heightened awareness about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are vital for all residents of Hillsborough County; and
WHEREAS, residents, communities, and service providers, must have a greater understanding of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in order to provide timely diagnosis and treatment,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED that the Board of County Commissioners of Hillsborough County, Florida does hereby declare May 1 to May 7, 2016 as
Perinatal Mental Health Awareness Week
in Hillsborough County, and urges all residents to familiarize themselves with the warning signs of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and for women and men to make sure they have been properly screened for symptoms and receive appropriate treatment if needed.
On May 3, 2016 we are asking all our supporters to participate in Give Day Tampa Bay. Visit www.giveday.org to make your tax deductible donation and support moms and babies in Tampa Bay!
You never know who you are going to meet on your journey. Through our recent SISTERMom training, Rebecca and I have had the pleasure of meeting a local celebrity.
Deanna Silva is the current reigning Mrs. St. Petersburg, Florida and hopefully advancing to be crowned Mrs. Florida this May. Now, my adolescent minded prejudices would have thought, "What could this beautiful and talented woman and I have in common?" Sadly, it is this terrible illness that brings us together. But also, thankfully, we are brought together.
We are so proud of Deanna as she is taking on Postpartum Depression as her platform. It is brave and inspiring to see someone with with so much social spotlight, highlight a dark and personal struggle.
We thank you, Deanna, for holding the umbrella and speaking your truth to bring awareness to this critical health crisis. We know how hard it is, and we applaud you. We ask all our supporters, to support Deanna as she prepares for Mrs. Florida United States.
Please read her beautiful story "Finding Purpose Through the Pain: How PPD became a Blessing in Disguise."
Caught in a landslide..no escape from reality... (I am sorry, kind of)
Yesterday morning, I was semi-daydreaming through a workshop titled “Expectations in Relationships”. While the workshop was focused on romantic relationships, I couldn’t help but think about a different relationship and the expectations I had once held for motherhood. The definition of expectation is “the act or state of looking forward; a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.”
The goals of the workshop were to decide if we should have expectations? Identify Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Expectations, and to offer tools to build healthy expectations.
Immediately I thought about how Motherhood is rampant with misconceptions, expectations, and idealizations that unlike the gradual reality of a romantic relationship, are typically thrust upon you in one final push.
Some healthy examples of expectations for relationships included: my partner will communicate with me and my partner will put in their share of the work. Unhealthy examples included, my partner will know what I am thinking, and my partner will complete me or make me fully happy.
Comparing the examples to the list of “Motherhood Expectations” I solicited from an online group of moms, I found that many moms are entering this relationship full of unrealistic and unhealthy expectations for themselves, their partners, and their babies. The crash of reality with these unrealistic expectations has to do damage mentally, emotionally, and socially.
Where do our Motherhood Expectations come from?
Expectations typically come from our experiences (ie, we decide to do things or not to do things the way our mother did them), our past experiences with infants, and societal norms. One way our unrealistic expectations are allowed to develop is the fact that nobody talks about the ugly, the unpleasant, or the unmentionable. We often only see the pretty side of motherhood, amazing birth photos or new nursing mom's with a happy baby perfectly latched, or my personal favorite, calmly sleeping babies in a beautifully decorated nursery. Social Media highlights the joys and precious moments. What about the sore bottoms and chapped nipples? Friend and mentor Sarah Workman Checcone of Postpartum Society of Florida decided to change this by discussing the unspoken details in her book From Bump to Grind.
Let's look at some of the Motherhood Expectations voiced by the mom's group members.
Full disclosure, for my first son, some of these expectations were met. So I had no reason to believe otherwise that there weren’t universal truths. And in the same manner, some realities were blown with him, so my second time around I had no expectation of a clean house, healthy prepped dinners, or routine. But each expectation or “ideal” we strive for, is an opportunity for disappointment.
Part of me laughs as I say the easiest way to deal with this disappointment is to drop the expectations. But realistically, we will have expectations. So, based on the suggestions from the presentation, I would like to offer some tools, or tips really, for creating healthy expectations.
Occasionally, even when we manage to lower our expectations, we discover that something about motherhood just doesn’t meet the bar. When these expectations are unmet, it is common to feel upset. So I leave you with a few reminders of what to do when you find yourself disappointed by unmet expectations.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the