Women Ask Wednesday: What mental health resources are available in the pandemic?

Hump day!!! Hope your week is going well. Since last summer, I’ve been working on a list for mental health resources that women can access during the pandemic to hand out to women in our clinic. The pandemic has brought many, many challenges to everyone, but…to women that are pregnant, new mamas, seasoned mamas, or someone struggling with loss…the isolation has only fueled the fire of mood disorders. And women are struggling to ask for help and to find help. Although this is the reality, it is unacceptable.

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If you think about the time period from the start of pregnancy to when your baby turns a year old – it’s almost TWO years! Looking at the picture above, two years is a long time to think one of the sayings or have anxiety or depression signs or symptoms. I think I have felt every single thought or symptom at some point as a mama. At some point with my daughter, my default phrase was “We’re doing great. We’re doing great.” to get through those thoughts – especially times when it was just her and I at home. What I didn’t realize was I had postpartum anxiety and by the time I recognized it, my daughter was 6 months old. And my mistake was that I never asked for help.

The good news is that resources are available and that there is help. Those thoughts and feelings are not normal.

Okay, first and foremost, did you know that there are risk factors for anxiety and depression in pregnancy and postpartum?

Postpartum Support Virginia created a screen for women to see if they have physiologic, internal or environmental factors that put them at risk for perinatal mood disorders. I recently listened to Mara Watts, the Director of Outreach and Education at Postpartum Support VA on the Journey to Midwifery podcast . (I highly recommend a listen for everyone – mamas, women currently with/history of mental health struggles, and providers – listen here!). Mara talks about the power of seeing risk factors in black and white and the power of print for women and families in planning care and success during pregnancy and the postpartum period. After hearing that, I thought – it’s amazing we haven’t been doing a screen like this at the first pregnancy visit nationwide. Think of what a routine screening like this could do for women and their families!

Okay, let’s get to my top three resources!

In the midst of the pandemic and different mandates across the nation and the world, my first and favorite recommendation is Postpartum Support International. The organization has the best online resources, it’s an international platform and it’s easy to navigate. Postpartum Support International also has a closed facebook group with women and professionals working with and through perinatal mood disorders and a 24/7 telephone hotline women and families can call as well: 1.800.944.4773.

Their page to find local support is here.

Postpartum Support International also has weekly online meetings that are FREE!!! I mentioned these in the last Friday Five but the schedule is reposted below as well – however, the picture doesn’t list all the weekly meetings offered so please check the site for all offerings. If there is a silver lining with the pandemic, it’s that organizations were forced to improve their platforms to reach people online. It doesn’t replace the benefits of meeting in person, but it’s a step in the right direction. The site also has many good resources for dads.

Print flyers here! (source).

And lastly, they offer a Perinatal Mental Health Discussion tool that could be use anytime in the perinatal period.

Print your copy here! (source).

Secondly, Postpartum Progress’s resource list. The list is divided out by resources in individual states and Canada! Women can look for a local group while participating in the Postpartum Support International groups or do both! The site also has a great place for women to learn about postpartum depression and anxiety and I love these posts in particular:

Thirdly, Postpartum Support Virginia. They are an initiative by the state of Virginia to help women struggling with mental health or to be better prepared during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The organization has done a fantastic job with connecting resources across the state and providing free access to resources online. I used to hand out their pamphlets when I worked in Hampton Roads! One of their amazing resources is this Postpartum Plan. Oh my goodness, if we have failed somewhere in postpartum care for women it is in the area of how to prepare for the postpartum period. I personally feel like I learned everything by experience (I think most women would agree). But, it’s a really hard way to learn and it’s a steep learning curve.

Their postpartum plan should be in all prenatal care – probably around the 28 to 32 week visit timeframe. Then we catch all the mamas that have their babies preterm! Practicing midwives, what do you think?? Expecting or seasoned mamas – how do you think this would change how you prepare for your postpartum period?

I also love their Path to Wellness handout. Sometimes people need to see the path forward to have hope and I think this handout offers that! I love that all the components are discussed – an important factor in healing. Generally it’s a combination of things that are needed most!

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Other recommendations include…

From Postpartum Education for Parents, these tips for fathers, family members and friends. Again, sometimes it’s easier to day things when they are in black and white!

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The site also offers a list of recommended books for women about the postpartum period or perinatal mood disorders (check it out here) and a warmline for women in the Santa Barbara, California area.

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Warmlines are such a lovely idea to me – what other warmlines are out available to women? Does a comprehensive list exist anywhere? Email me or comment below if you know of one!

For questions about medications to treat perinatal mood disorders, the LactMed Database is a free resource for anyone. Simply type in the medication’s name and the site populates the evidence available for the medication. It includes studies completed in the United States and internationally. Sometimes I print out the information for the patient to take home and review if medication was reviewed as an option but isn’t necessarily part of the plan yet!

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For women looking for solidarity in perinatal mental health disorders, The Blue Dot Project is doing a great job of increasing awareness! Check them out here.

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For practical tips for parents, check out Partners to Parents from Australia. The site is meant for new parents or expecting parents. The site offers a free book called Supporting Your Partner When You Have a Baby. And they offer a nice review of the evidence about how strong partner support and relationships prevent perinatal mood disorders.

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Lastly, the full list of resources on the blog are copied below.

Please share these with anyone you know who could benefit from them!

Practicing midwives, please consider recommending these resources in addition to your community resource list (these are always available on the RESOURCES page).

And please, please, please let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!

Hope these are helpful!

Jamie


1 year ago on the blog…Women Ask Wednesday: What’s your favorite (non-book) item to recommend to pregnant women?

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