Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Continuing the Conversation: Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2! 
(This is a two part episode! To catch up and check out Part 1, click here!)

Hey TBH Village! This week, we’re back to continue our super important conversation with mental health therapist Jess Vanderwier about postpartum mood disorders. Let’s dive back in!

When it comes to treatment, it all loops back into the risk factors that cause postpartum depression and anxiety issues in the first place. A professional can help you evaluate all the aspects of your postpartum life that can contribute to these issues. For example, in terms of biology, it would be important to get a physical checkup, especially concerning your thyroid, to make sure there is not an underlying issues causing symptoms. Sleep is another important factor to look at it, as lack of it can both cause and exacerbate issues - you should ideally be getting a solid four hour chunk of sleep every night, so if you need to enlist the help of family and friends to get that or even a postpartum doula, you should not be scared to do so! 

Social support should also be evaluated - a lot of mamas think they have to do everything all on their own (Jess felt this same way!). You have to recognize the incredible work you and your body just did in creating a tiny human and even if you are normally the type to always be in a season of giving, it’s important to open yourself up to being comfortable with being in a season of receiving. Finally, eating habits are something that are often overlooked but still so incredibly important. The focus after birth is often on how baby is doing with feeding, but what about mom? It’s important to be eating full, nutritious meals to fuel both your baby and your own healthy mind. 

Choosing to get psychological help is an admirable step and can be so helpful even if you aren’t experiencing explicit symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder. This transition into motherhood can be so messy - makeup streaming down your face, messy bun, spit-up all over you messy, and it can take time, but you are so capable of coming up on the other side, even if you need some help along the way. 

If you have a new mama in your life, the best way you can help them is by encouraging real and honest conversations with them - check in and see how they are REALLY doing. There is so much to talk about when it comes to a new baby and the mom’s well-being can often get lost in that - take it upon yourself to be that checkup for them! As a friend or family member, your role is not that of a counselor but simply that of support - encourage them to get professional help if needed and walk alongside them every step of the way. Be mama’s village - bring meals, show up, ask tough questions, give her time to sleep, and help her remember that she doesn’t have to do it all on her own. Remind them that their main role is to love their baby the best way that they can - all the other to do’s will eventually get done.

As HeHe says - you have permission to do what feels right for you, and you always, always have choices.

If you want to help a new mom get professional support, Jess suggests to approach it from a place of love and compassion, starting off soft rather than jumping right into finger pointing. For example, you may suggest they check out Postpartum Support International, who has a warm line that can set you up with someone to talk to about how you’re feeling and ease you into getting professional support. They have a list of clinicians who are trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and can help in setting you up with one of these people. When searching for professional support, it’s so important to find someone who has specific training in these disorders, as they can really understand what’s going on and therefore help YOU understand what’s going on. 

Finally, social media is another important point to touch on when it comes to the transition to motherhood. Unfortunately, moms often fall into the habit of guilting other moms on social media based on their own transitions and it can get nasty. It’s okay if you need to take a break from certain accounts or people on social media - choose to surround yourself with joy and encouragement instead! Your choices are yours so own them and be okay with them and don’t let what other people say get you down - there will always be haters! Build your village with the people who lift you up - you deserve it. 

Through this journey, Jess has developed her own online community - what started as a  little blog about perinatal mental health research took off with a bunch of moms becoming interested and has evolved into a safe space for women to share their experiences and talk about the real issues that moms face all while looking at it from a research perspective too! It is a space that Jess wishes she had had as a new mom - a place to both get information and to be reassured that you are not alone. If you want to join this community of over 4000 mamas, head on over to Our Mama Village.

Connect with Jess on her website Our Mama Village, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"


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