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Spotlight: Perinatal Mental Health

Protecting your mental health during a monumental transition in your life.

Your precious baby is resting in your arms. Snuggled in and warm. They are your world. It's as though your heart has literally leapt out of your chest, and is now dancing around, wiggling its fingers and toes right in front of you.

From the moment you became pregnant and for the foreseeable future your body has become a vehicle of attachment and survival for another being. Does it still feel like your body is your own? Does this fill you with wonderment? Anger? Maybe both? Almost every woman experiences some degree of ambiguity regarding her pregnancy and transition into motherhood. That does not mean that you are ungrateful or that you will be a bad mother. It just means that you are experiencing a mixture of emotions. Like a human is supposed to.

Why are our families and our societies so against acknowledging the mixed bag that emotions are? It is not a natural state to only experience good or to only experience bad. One can feel blessed and resentful at the same time. One can feel excited and afraid at the same time. Being pregnant, birthing a child, and then bringing that child home and raising him or her are MONUMENTAL events in our life, like no other! A new life is innocently expecting you to serve unconditional and unlimited amounts of love and nutrients regardless of what else you’ve got going on. It is natural to feel more or less okay with that on any given day.

Maternal mental health, or perinatal mental health, does not get the attention that it deserves. It’s a silent suffering by mothers at a time when they “should” feel joyful. Admitting that we are struggling to care for ourselves or our baby is hard because we fear judgment for not being strong enough or a good enough mother. Some of us have the benefit of having friends or family nearby to help with chores or to look after the baby while we rest. Some of us don’t have that support system in place. And yet, having supportive people does not mean that they will understand or listen to what is asked for. In their efforts to be helpful, they may fall into the trap of doing what they think you need rather than listening to what you ask of them. These good but mismatched intentions can add to the mother’s sense isolation.

Baby blues are what parents (birthing or not) experience at any point during pregnancy or after birth in anticipation of significant changes in their social, familial, vocational, and leisurely pursuits. It can manifest because you are getting less quality sleep, experiencing physical discomfort from being pregnant, anxious about that darn baby registry, nervous about your birth plan, or anything really. Becoming and being a parent is not all sunshine and rainbows.

If you have a history of depressive episodes, panic attacks, clinical anxiety, or are generally worried about how well you will cope with arrival of your newborn, don’t hesitate to shore up your web of supports. Keep your medical team on alert. Connect with a mental health practitioner who is trained in perinatal mental health. Speak with your spouse, doula, or any other birthing partners about your worries. Don’t accept “Don’t worry” as an answer. It’s okay to worry. Also, you don’t have to suffer in silence.

Dr. Jain has developed a Maternal Wellness Plan to help you create a game plan for surviving the Baby Blues. She also has an educational webinar that provides an overview of perinatal depression and perinatal anxiety, and the risk factors for developing perinatal mental illness. Her webinar also reviews potential consequences for missing the signs of perinatal mental illness and walks you through how to complete the Maternal Wellness Plan. Reach out to Dr. Jain at to sign up for this webinar and to develop a Maternal Wellness Plan with her. If you would like additional support, don’t hesitate to ask about her availability for short-term or ongoing individual therapy or couples counseling during this transitional stage in your life.


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