Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week takes place the first week of May each year. The 2019 theme is #MakingOverMotherhood with the goal of “making over” the image of “perfect motherhood and the notion moms can do it all without support.”
Every year, during this month, we aim to provide a list of postpartum support services and resources for local moms. According to Postpartum Support International, at least one in seven women will experience a maternal mental health complication in the 12-month period after giving birth. One in seven! And yet, it’s still taboo and gets in the way of some women reaching out for help when they need it the most.
There are a few important things to remember if you’re experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, or another maternal mental health complication. It’s temporary. It’s treatable. And, it’s not something you can control. You didn’t do anything wrong and you’re not a bad mother. In fact, you’re amazing. You just brought a life into this world. Really think about that for a minute. It’s no wonder you need some support to help you recover after having one of the most emotional, mentally and physically challenging experiences you may ever have.
If you’re a Fairfield County-based mom dealing with postpartum issues yourself or know someone who is, here are some local resources that you can turn to for help. Don’t be afraid to seek support. What you are going through is unfortunately very common, but fortunately very treatable. There are some amazing organizations and people out there who can help you work through it. You are not alone!
Support Services and Resources:
A leading organization in the fight to spread awareness of postpartum issues and connect women with support. Visit the Connecticut chapter page for a list of contacts and local resources.
A Westport-based support group series that meets weekly and provides an open, judgment-free space for moms to connect with other moms and discuss challenges or topics related to the postpartum experience. After the birth of my first child, I attended two separate 6-week sessions and it was nothing short of wonderful. Visit the Life After Birth website for information on session timing and how to sign up. I encourage you to check it out whether you are on your first baby or fourth.
Designed by a Fairfield County-based mom of two, Better Postpartum is a comprehensive 8-week holistic wellness program, featuring informational videos and support from a “dream team” of womens’ health experts.
Servicing Fairfield County and other areas, this group offers a wide range of pre and post-natal courses, including opportunities to build relationships with other new parents in your area. They can also help connect new moms to a range of local resources, including pediatricians, lactation specialists, therapists, and nutritionists.
New Moms’ Groups
Hosted by various pediatricians’ offices, hospitals, family-friendly yoga studios and more. Don’t get new moms’ group fatigue. Explore what’s out there and stick with the one(s) that you gel with the most and that cover the topics of immediate interest to you, whether it be newborn care, self care and mental health, or something else. Examples include: the Center for Advanced Pediatrics in Darien; Willows Pediatrics in Westport; Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich hospitals; Mother’s Embrace Yoga in Shelton; Family Tree Yoga in Stamford; and Yoga for Everybody in Fairfield.
It can be really helpful to talk through your struggles and concerns one-on-one with a professional who specializes in postnatal care. There are some excellent providers in Fairfield County so ask around for recommendations, call your insurance provider, or do a little online research to locate someone close to you. Some recommended options include:
Carla Pileggi-Caviola (Old Greenwich and Stamford)
Pamela Allon (Westport)
Elisabeth Schneider (Fairfield and Darien)
Jackie Small (Fairfield)
Alisa Fulvio (Fairfield)
B. Jasmine D. Zinser (Fairfield)
Leah Brown Freshman (Norwalk)
Doulas are trained professionals who can provide support to new mothers before, during and immediately following childbirth. Postpartum doulas specialize in nurturing and supporting new moms and families. There are many doulas serving Fairfield County, including MothersCare, Birth Partners Doulas, and the Connecticut Doula Collective.
Check out La Leche League which has regular meetings for breastfeeding moms in Danbury, Fairfield, Greenwich, Newtown/Monroe, Ridgefield, Shelton/Milford, and Wilton. Breastfeeding Resources in Stratford is a physician-based private medical practice specializing in breastfeeding support. I worked with a specialist there after the birth of my second child and found them to be incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. You can also search for a private lactation counselor in your area for individualized attention and assistance.
Online Communities and Support Groups
Sometimes new moms are at their lowest in the off hours, such as during those middle of the night feedings/wakings. It’s dark. You’re alone with your baby. All you can hear is the sound of a ticking clock somewhere. And, you’re exhausted. It can help to have online communities to turn to for support during these times to feel less alone. There are a lot of groups out there, including #latenightnursingfeed on Instagram and Balanced Mama on Facebook. Postpartum Support International also has a private Facebook group for moms with perinatal mood or anxiety disorders. Search for communities that are judgment-free zones where other moms provide support, encouragement and advice.
Though it can be hard to remind ourselves of this during those particularly dark moments – we are not in this alone. If you’re feeling out of sorts, or worse, help is out there. The above list of resources is far from exhaustive so please share any additional recommendations in the comments. We all have our own unique experiences related to motherhood, but there are many common themes and struggles. The more we can support and encourage each other, the better off we all will be. #MakingOverMotherhood