As a clinician and writer who works with women and their burgeoning families around issues related to fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum adjustments I am continually learning more about the depth of the human psyche and the resilience of the human spirit. I am developing an article on prepartum depression and anxiety which explores the multifaceted vulnerabilities that can take center stage as a woman enters pregnancy. The ubiquitous pressures in our culture to be a "perfect" mother begin to take hold as one's belly grows and unsolicited feedback comes from every direction (i.e. media, family, friends). Anxiety and depression are expectable feelings as hormones emerge and the excitement, overwhelm, and identity shifts become palpable. Renowned psychologist Carol Gilligan wrote about the significant identity changes girls experience as they move into adolescents and how culture forces them to question their intuitive sense of relating with others and with themselves. Pregnancy seems to present another very important developmental crossroads in which many mothers-to-be begin to question their sense of self, their sense of intuition, and their sense of being. What can become problematic is when the feelings of anxiety and depression are greater than one's sense of internal resources and/or external support. Postpartum blues is estimated to impact about 80% of women. What do others think of this? How can culture support women and babies during this transitional milestone that is birth and the birth of parenthood?

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Dear Jenn,

Thank you so much for your reply to my initial post- "Supporting Women as Motherhood Emerges". I really appreciate your feedback and completely agree with you regarding the need for increased education, prevention, and support around PPD. I posted some psychological "tips" the other day (I think it's posted under Forums on the Home page) that address the very issue you are talking about. Women need support before, during, and after birth. Feelings of overwhelm are ubiquitous and having the support needed to feel a sense of inner calm for moments during the initial transition can do wonders for mommy and baby. Being forearmed with information about PPD and ways to address personal issues during pregnancy (if not before) would engender a greater sense of choice and grace during the messy, vulnerable, and wonderfully exciting transformation into motherhood.
Hi Jessica

You may be interested in my research on women's experiences becoming mothers. We're still collecting data so no results yet. We are assessing areas that you are interested in.

Feel free to send others our way!

click on TheMotherhoodProject

All the best,
Dear Jeanette,

Thank you for your note and for introducing me to this wonderful project. I would like to speak with you further about the research. Can I email you directly?

The very best,
I've thought extensively about this also as I have seen many mothers face this part of their lives with fear and trepidation as well as the anxiety or needing to be perfect. I really like the idea of doing blessing ways instead of baby showers. Create a time to celebrate motherhood and the woman who is beginning that. It seems we have rituals for many things in our lives, but becoming a mother has been forgotten in that and women are often left alone to navigate that world.
I agree with everything that's been said here. Someone very close to me recently realized that she has been suffering from PPD for almost a year now and didn't know it. There definitely needs to be more awareness and education about it. I had suspected some depression and had tried to give advice as best I could, but she wasn't open to the possibility that she was depressed, until now. She is getting some help now and feeling better, thank heavens! I haven't experienced PPD personally, but I have experienced bouts of depression and some baby blues, and I understand what it must be like. No one should feel so alone. I would hope that we, as women, would band together and support each other through all the moments, happy or sad. I think that forums like these are helpful as well, for lonely women to connect with others and realize they aren't alone.

Thank you so much for your post. Please let me know if your friend would like resources in her area to address postpartum depression. As we know, perinatal and postpartum mood disorders do not go away on their own no matter how much people hope they would. Getting help as early as possible can yield a speedier recovery, relieving the anguish that can accompany postpartum depression. Given that the statistics are so high for postpartum depression, women should not feel alone in this difficult period-- yet culture continues to stigmatize mental health challenges and reaching out for assistance. Let me know if I can be of any help.




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