Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (MMH Week) takes place the first week of May each year. This year, MMH Week falls May 4-8, 2020 and the theme of the Blue Dot Project 2020 campaign is Motherhood is not Black and White. “This year, more than ever, moms are feeling overwhelmed, confused, and lonely due to the unprecedented events of COVID-19. Motherhood has felt grey, and often it’s treated like it’s black and white – when it’s nothing but. Join us to unpack the complications of life and motherhood together as we push to #makingovermotherhood.”
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 1 in 5 women who are pregnant or postpartum will be impacted by depression, anxiety, and/or another maternal mental health complication. 1 in 5! 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. You just brought a life into this world. It’s no wonder you need some support to help you recover and find your new normal 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:
*Note: many providers are offering virtual services during social distancing
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. 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 proven and award-winning virtual support from a “dream team” of birthing and postpartum experts. Better Postpartum was recently selected to receive the 2019 Maternal Mental Health Innovation Award.
Servicing Fairfield County and other areas, this group offers a wide range of pre and postnatal 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.
The Blue Dot Project – which raises awareness of maternal mental health disorders and creates an MMH Week campaign each year – put together a list of resources specifically aimed at combating increased anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020.
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 (Westport)
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. Many doulas are 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. You can also search for a private lactation counselor in your area for individualized attention and assistance.
Online Communities and Other 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. Moms across Fairfield County have raved about FIT4MOM – a pre and postnatal fitness program that provides fitness to moms through classes like Stroller Strides as well as a network of other moms to support every stage of motherhood.
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. There is no “right” way to be a mom. #MakingOverMotherhood