I had an interesting conversation with a friend this week. As we sat down to a delicious slice of cake at one of my favorite local haunts, The Dessert Lady, (no she’s not paying me in bread pudding for that plug) I mentioned to my buddy, a really amazing therapist, that I was thinking of seeking out some of the lactation consultants, pediatricians, and parenting class instructors in town to do some free outreach about perinatal mood disorders. After swallowing a delicious bite of cannoli cake, she said something akin to this: “Holly, I’m just so tired of everyone telling new mothers how horrible everything is going to be, and how they’ll mess up their children if they even look at them sideways. There’s just no point in scaring them to death with awful things that probably won’t happen to them.”
I have to admit, I was taken aback. As I sat there silently, nodding at her, my coffee seemed to turn sour on my tongue. Was I, as she seemed to imply, a fear monger who was going to make perfectly normal women doubt themselves in their new mama roles? Were my talks going to be less educational than catastrophic? And worst of all, was I really going to make otherwise emotionally healthy women believe that they were defective? As you can imagine, these are thoughts that strike terror in the hearts of those of us who feel called to be professional healers. I came into this field to help people see that they are mostly better, stronger, and more resilient than they think they are, not make them doubt themselves.
I do have to agree with my girl about one thing though—early parenthood is a dense wilderness of competing advice about how to care for these new creatures we have brought into the world. I’m just worried that we don’t get enough solid guidance on how to care for ourselves. Supporting mothers is a delicate balancing act between normalizing the fears and tears we all have as fledgling parents, and offering more structured interventions when more intensive help may be needed. Mostly, it’s about offering information early enough so that women will seek help when they need it, and realize that having a rough go of it is not always their fault.
So, let’s make Central Florida a place where women and their families have access to relevant information about perinatal mental health. Feel free to email or call me with any questions you may have. If I don’t have the answer I will attempt to connect you with a resource that does know. You can also check out www.postpartum.net, the home of the most up-to-date perinatal adjustment information on the web.
As always, you’re welcome to contact me for a free consultation by phone (407) 913.4988 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Partner in Healing,