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"You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help you will be well." - Postpartum Support International

Photo by Angela Pidala

What is Perinatal Mental Health?

Perinatal Mental Health is just a fancy phrase to describe any type of emotional, behavioral, or mental distress during your fertility journey, whether throughout pregnancy, up to one year postpartum, or even before, as you work to grow your family, possibly after a pregnancy loss or miscarriage, working through fertility treatment, or during the adoption process.

 

Here are some common stressors that you may be experiencing that perinatal mental health support can help with:

  • Pregnancy or Postpartum Anxiety

  • Pregnancy or Postpartum Depression

  • Experiencing a Traumatic Birth or Traumatic Delivery 

  • Pregnancy Loss or Miscarriages 

  • Fear of getting pregnant, and also desiring to grow your family

  • Unsure the next steps for growing your family

  • Going through Fertility Treatments 

  • Going through the Adoption Process

  • Experiencing distress after finalizing adoption "Postpartum Adoption"

  • Childhood Trauma showing up or resurfacing during pregnancy or postpartum 

  • Intrusive Thoughts or Scary Thoughts about yourself, your baby, and/or the world around you

  • Loving your baby postpartum, and also Grieving your "Pre-Baby" Life and identity

  • Having excessive Panic, Worry, or Anxiety about your baby's safety or other external factors

Why Postpartum Depression happens?

Majority of people have at least heard of postpartum depression, but don't necessarily know what it means, or what it looks like, or why it even happens. Many moms think, "Oh yeah, I know about that, but THAT won't happen to ME." Just liked I explained above, the symptoms of "postpartum depression" can actually start BEFORE the postpartum period and actually start showing up during your pregnancy. This is the same for "postpartum anxiety" as well. Those worry thoughts and anxious feelings, or even panic attacks can also begin during pregnancy. But what does it look like? And why does it happen? While there are risk factors that put you at higher chance of developing, what we now call, a PMAD (perinatal mood and anxiety distress), there is no single cause or reason. Actually, it is more of a combination of biological, environmental, hormonal, and psychological factors; anyone can develop a PMAD, and it's NOT your fault if it does happen.

 

Here are some common risk factors:

  • History of a mood or anxiety disorder (depression, anxiety, OCD)

  • Thyroid imbalance, diabetes, or other endocrine disorders

  • Lack of support from family or friends

  • Financial stress or poverty

  • Severe Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) 

  • Pregnancy or birth complications, past miscarriages or pregnancy loss

  • History of abuse/childhood trauma

  • An unwanted or even unplanned pregnancy

  • Abrupt discontinuation of breastfeeding

Here are a few signs/symptoms:

  • Change in mood occurring daily, intensely, and getting in the way of your basic needs

  • Disturbance to sleep and appetite

  • Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness

  • Crying and sadness, constant worry, or racing thoughts

  • Loss of interest or finding pleasure in things that you used to enjoy

  • Feelings of anger, rage, irritability, or scary and unwanted thoughts

  • Intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, tightness in your chest, nausea, or hot flashes 

New Mom With New Baby

Can postpartum anxiety start later?

This is SUCH an important questions. Often times, people think that postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression MUST show up, well postpartum. And that is just not true! They can actually start earlier, from the moment you find out you are pregnant! Another important piece to identify and define, is the word postpartum. Most people think postpartum means, a few weeks after baby is born, maybe a few months? 

Postpartum actually is the period from delivery all the way up to ONE YEAR after baby is born. That means anxiety, depression, irritability, excessive crying and sadness, rage, intrusive thoughts, scary and unwanted thoughts, and other symptoms can START at any time during the first year of your baby's life. That could be postpartum anxiety starting at 3 months; 4 months; 8 months; even 11 months postpartum!

Why is Perinatal Mental Health Important?

Okay, so now you may be thinking, sure, I understand what perinatal mental health symptoms are, what they can look like, when they can start, and even a better understanding of why they happen. But...why does it matter? What is the importance of knowing all this.

 

Well, FIRST, it's important to have all this knowledge so that you can then recognize whether you or a loved one is experiencing this type of distress. SECOND, once you can identify it, you can get help, or help a loved one through this challenging time. Postpartum International's main slogan is, "You are not alone. You are not to blame. And with help, you can be well." Why suffer alone, if there are people out there who are trained and WANT to help you?! Lastly, THIRD, undiagnosed and untreated perinatal mood and anxiety distress can have long term lasting impacts on the mother, the child, and the entire family system. 

Pregnant Mom

Free Consultation

Never been to therapy before? Unsure if counseling is for you? No worries! I always start off the counseling process with a FREE consultation. It is so important to feel connected with your counselor and that they can support your specific needs. That's why I do a free consult! It gives us the opportunity to meet first, before committing to anything. You will have the chance to share in general what brings you to counseling at this time, share general goals for therapy, and get to know me, my practice, and how I might support your specific needs. You can ask questions to relieve any hesitations, nerves, or uncertainties you may have about the process. We will work together to make sure you feel comfortable, confident, and on a path towards healing. By the end of the consultation, we will either set up the first intake session, discuss referrals as appropriate, or you can take the time to reach back out to schedule before making a final decision.

Pregnant mom holding infant baby
new mom holding new baby hand

Intake Session

After the consultation, we will then meet for an intake session that will last about an hour to an hour and a half. This will give me the opportunity to hear your concerns in more details, gather relevant background information, and conduct any necessary screenings or assessments. This may include discussing information such as due date, loss experience, pregnancy history, attachment, mood, delivery experience, or baby's temperament. The session will end with us collaboratively identifying your personal values and developing goals to create your treatment plan. 

 

RATES:  $160 per session (reduced rate options available) 

 

LOCATION: Telehealth (online counseling) sessions are available for Texas residents only. In person sessions are available at an office located in The Woodlands, Texas (North Houston)

Individual Counseling Sessions

Next, after the intake session, we will begin the works towards healing through individual counseling sessions. The frequency of these sessions will be discussed and adjusted in each session, but typically start off on a weekly basis. Often times, new goals emerge as we start our work together and you progress through your pregnancy, postpartum, or fertility journey. As goals change, treatment will follow to allow optimal growth and healing. These sessions may also include psychoeducation about pregnancy, postpartum, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders as appropriate.  

 

RATES: $135 per session (reduced rate options available)

 

LOCATION: Telehealth (online counseling) sessions available for Texas residents only. In person sessions available at an office located in The Woodlands, Texas

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