Pregnancy & Postpartum
Becoming a parent is a complicated journey filled with ups, downs, so many challenges and ALL of the emotions. There is so much that is not discussed and the structure of modern families and communities does not provide the exposure, guidance, support or transmission of wisdom which existed in the transgenerational families and communal communities of the past. Some families struggle with fertility, others with loss, traumatic birth, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, the impact of previous family of origin issues or overwhelm related to new roles as a stay-at-home parent, a working parent, or the transition between the two. It’s also a time when so many ignore themselves and minimize their struggles with gratitude or comparison. Several years ago I realized the need for special training to navigate the unique challenges during this time. As a certified perinatal mental health provider, I believe it is my role to educate, foster awareness, facilitate support and connection, and assist in adjusting expectations of new parents within a society that perpetuates striving for false, unattainable versions of parenting.
Truths We Need to Talk About
“You can be Happy, Excited & Grateful,
Sad, Depressed & Anxious.”
- Matrescence is essentially a developmental phase defined in the Cambridge dictionary as “the physical, psychological and emotional changes you go through after the birth of your child.” It further explains “Matrescence can feel like a big swirl of emotion, but much of it is physically rooted in hormone changes, just like adolescence”. Matrescense, unlike adolescence, is not discussed, anticipated or understood and guidance is rarely provided to those experiencing it or those around them. This is a time where it is normal to grieve the loss of independence and a woman must reconcile her expected vs. actual identity as mother.
- Fathers also experience hormone changes, and likely all non-birthing parents.
- Family of origin issues often come up for parents during prenatal and postpartum periods which provide an opportunity to heal and avoid repetitions and overcompensating.
- Good enough parenting can be more healthy than “perfect” parenting. Healthy attachment requires both parent and child find satisfaction, which means parental self-care, as well as rupture and repair within the relationship.
- Infertility and pregnancy loss are common, can be traumatic, increase risk of anxiety and depression during subsequent pregnancy and may be accompanied with feelings of guilt . If you feel exhausted, sad, guilty an/or anxious this is understandable and valid.
- Babies are not always calm and happy and they have no predictable schedule.
- Sleep deprivation, and all the things, are HARD! Even if you always wanted to be a parent and love it. Although it can seem impossible, getting sleep is a top priority for good mental health.
- “Maternal instincts” are not instructions on how to care for your baby. Guidance was passed down naturally in communal life, which most of us are lacking. Instead we can overwhelm ourselves with 931 opposing theories and suggestions.
- Bonding does not always occur immediately.
- As many as 1 in 5 mothers experience a postpartum depression and/or anxiety.
- Medication is not always necessary. In some cases medication is not only okay, but the best option.
- As many as 1 in 10 partners experience postpartum depression or anxiety.
- Intrusive thoughts are a common symptom of perinatal anxiety and perinatal OCD.
- Some birthing parents experience postpartum bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis.
- 30% of women experience pain during intercourse at 6 months after giving birth, independent of whether birth was vaginal or cesarean.
Melissa Cramer, LCSW, LCAS, PMH-C
605 West Main St. Ste 203
Carrboro, NC 27510
300 West Earp St.
Holly Springs, NC 27540