Totally agree that helping new parents understand their baby can be helpful. New parents have an expectation that they will totally love their baby and understand what baby needs -- and when this doesn't happen immediately, it can add to feeling overwhelmed and out of control.
We love it when moms bring their babies to our support groups so we can validate that they are doing a good job caring for this little person, that keeping another human being alive is hard work, and that love isn't always instantaneous.
During pregnancy, the whole focus is on labor and delivery. No one can imagine what it is like to have a newborn, be sleep-deprived, be in pain/discomfort. It's similar to when someone is engaged -- all they can focus on is the wedding -- never mind what it is like to be married.
We encourage women to attend through many different approaches:
1. Information about postpartum depression and the local support group is included in hospital discharge packets for maternity patients.
2. We talk with obstetricians and pediatricians -- who see moms on average 30 times during pregnancy and first year postpartum -- and teach them how to discuss these illnesses with new and pregnant moms and share information about our support groups.
3. Hospitals include information about the support groups on their websites, social media platforms, newsletters, etc.
4. We also educate birth and postpartum professionals -- such as doulas and lactation consultants -- about these illnesses so they can help new moms and refer them to our support groups.
Most of our group attendees self-identify, although some are referred to our groups by their therapist or psychiatrist.
You are absolutely right -- there is a great deal of stigma about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Having a new baby is supposed to be the happiest time in a woman's life, right? Women are reluctant to acknowledge that it can be difficult. And some women don't even realize that they are struggling -- they think that all new moms are overwhelmed and anxious and exhausted.
A woman will see a healthcare providers on average 30 times during a routine pregnancy and first year postpartum. Yet no one is responsible for talking about PMADs or screening for them. So we encourage all maternal-child healthcare providers to educate women about PMADs: OB/GYNs: at least once during first and third trimesters, along with postpartum fivsit PEDIATRICIANS: at all well-baby checks (2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months) HOSPITAL STAFF: prior to discharge, include information in maternity discharge packets
There are lots of support groups for new moms -- many hospitals and churches provide them -- and they are important for women to connect with each other during this transition. Some of my closest friends are women I met at New Moms Groups.
We at Postpartum Support Virginia provides groups particularly for those suffering anxiety and depression. These groups provide a safe place for women to talk about their feelings without judgment.
Thanks for the book suggestion -- I will definitely look it up!
Good luck with your group -- happy to help in any way.