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May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

Marisa McCutchen, LCMHC, Perinatal Wellness Counselor

Lyndi Sargent, CCE, CD, CCAP, Maternal Child Resource Coordinator

Having a baby is a time full of emotions -- some wonderful, and some not so wonderful. One moment mothers may feel overjoyed, grateful, or content and the next moment, feel frustrated, sad, or worrisome. The postpartum period is a time of rapid discovery. Some things seem easy (like learning how to burp your baby) while other things are much harder (like learning how to ask for help).

Babies don’t come with an instruction manual and the transition to parenthood is not scripted. Whether a new parent or adding a new baby to the family families are impacted in varying ways and to different degrees. At the very least, the transition to parenthood can feel like a ride down a pot-holed dirt road with no shocks in the car -- bumpy and jostling to the family. This is expected. It takes some ups and downs to learn.

For many, this bumpy road smooths out within the first few weeks after having a baby and moms start to feel more like themselves. This initial emotional reaction is something referred to as the “Baby Blues.” Baby blues include mild sadness, frustration, exhaustion, irritability, and worried thoughts. Sometimes, however, the potholes feel crater-sized and the journey seems to go on for much longer than a few weeks. When this happens, women can experience symptoms that prevent them from feeling like themselves and enjoying the postpartum period. Many get stuck in worried thoughts, experience great sadness or negativity, or become so focused on the well-being of the baby that moms forget to care for their own needs. When this happens mothers might be experiencing a postpartum mood/anxiety disorder. Research indicates that 1 in 5 moms and up to 1 in 10 dads experience a postpartum mood/anxiety disorder. It is the #1 most common complication of childbirth.

Postpartum Mood/Anxiety Disorders are very treatable. With proper professional support, parents can get back to feeling more like themselves and focus on raising children in the way they imagined. Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is ready to support new parents through this time.

If you or someone you love is struggling in the postpartum period, please reach out to the following resources:

Postpartum Group - Peer Support
Contact Marisa McCutchen, LCMHC, Perinatal Wellness Counselor, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital

Virtual New Parent Support Group

Postpartum Support International

Relief Parenting

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