Congratulations! Pregnancy is an exciting time. It is also a time for planning. You probably have spent hours researching car seats, cribs, formula…. etc. Of course, you have heard of birth plans, even if you choose not to have one. But do you have a postpartum plan? This can be key for reducing postpartum depression or anxiety.
Prior to Covid, approximately 20% of women suffered with postpartum depression or anxiety. Since Covid, these rates have skyrocketed. In fact, some estimates show 57% of women are struggling with anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum right now. There are many obvious reasons for this. Fear of Covid and an uncertain economy can certainly increase anxiety. In addition, many hospitals were limiting support people (sometimes even the patient’s partner) at the delivery. It is a miracle everyone wasn’t suffering with depression or anxiety!
Fortunately, things are looking up. We have a vaccine. Hospitals are relaxing their policies and the economy is improving. You still need a postpartum plan, though! Lack of support—social, emotional, physical, and financial- is a major risk factor for developing a maternal mental health disorder. Postpartum depression can have long term effects on the baby and other children in the family as well as partners. Furthermore, all mothers deserve to enjoy parenthood! Here is how to make a plan to safeguard your mental health.
Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Starting
- What do you need?
- Who is the best person to provide it?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if you ask?
The Four Domains of a Postpartum Plan
1. Emotional Support
Who do you feel safe with? Who has supported you in the past? How do you like to receive support—text, phone call, emails, in person?
What do you anticipate you will need help with? What are your least favorite tasks? Cooking, cleaning, laundry, pet care, lawn care, holding baby so you get a break? Watching older kids?
There are several bills in considerations now that can greatly help families. Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020 allows states to extend medicaid benefits for the whole first postpartum year instead of just 6 weeks. This is fundamental in helping moms access mental health care. In addition, The American Families Plan offers a host of financial benefits for families. Alternatively, Senator Romney’s Families Security Act pays parents whether they work out side of the home or not.
For people who come from more financially comfortable families, can they help you? If the grandparents want to start a 529 plan for baby but you need help with daycare—can they do that instead? Consider registering for Doula services. You can buy a lot of baby gear–cribs, clothes, rockers-used. Remember that babies do not actually need a whole lot so there is no reason to spend a small fortune.
If you notice symptoms of depression or anxiety lasting longer than 2 weeks or occurring most of the time, get help. You can find a qualified therapist through the Postpartum Support International Directory, Therapy Tribe, or Psychology Today. Many medications are safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Ask your OB/Midwife or find a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatrist knowledgeable about maternal mental health. You can use the above directories for mediation providers as well.
Moms spend so much time thinking about what will be best for baby. The truth is, your child needs you to be at your best. Make a plan to get there. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You deserve the best pregnancy and postpartum ever!
Learn More About Maternal Mental Health
We are passionate about helping moms and families at Nurtured Well, LLC in Towson, MD and on-line throughout Maryland. To that end we offer a free talk of all things postpartum depression and anxiety. This is educational and open to all prospective parents and the people who love them anywhere in the world! You do not need to be in Maryland for the talk nor do you need to be one of our patients.