Why hire a specialist?
Okay, so you've recognized that you're not feeling like yourself, that your moods are up and down, you're crying more than your baby, you're anxious, you have questions! So your friend, sister, cousin, tells you to see a therapist, "it's what she did..." But then what?
Is perinatal therapy the same as "regular therapy?" Can any therapist work with perinatal mental health? Afterall, it's all just depression and anxiety, right?
Well NO. At Ardeo Counseling, we believe that perinatal mental health should be treated differently. We believe in approaching mental health from the perspective that a mom can never take off her "Mom Hat." It's not enough to use self-care cliches and rigid homework assignments.
Here is a list of things you should look for when finding a Perinatal Therapist:
-Qualifications: A perinatal therapist should have additional training in Perinatal Mental Health. This topic is not usually a focus in graduate school, so find a provider who has taken the time to learn on their own. Postpartum Support International now offers a Perinatal Mental Health Certification, so look for providers with "PMH-C" after their name. You can also use the PSI Directory (psidirectory.com) to find trained providers.
-Flexibile Appointments: We recommend finding a therapist that allows or even encourages you to *parent* while in session. Having a newborn means feeding, changing, holding, and rocking your (screaming) baby. If this doesn't work for your therapist, it may not be a good fit. Also consider if virtual appointments are an option, they may be more convenient for you.
-Vocabulary: VBAC, TTC, TOLAC, HELLP Syndrome, dystocia, PPROM, ART, etc. You are always the expert on your case, your birth, and your baby, but you don't want to have teach your therapist these relatively basic birth terms. Perinatal Therapists have the experience and training on these and many other birth situations. This means that they can understand what you're saying and you can spend more time processing, not teaching.
-Special Circumstances: Perinatal Therapists are typically more informed and more comfortable talking about breastfeeding/formula feeding, sex and intimacy after child birth, surgical vs vaginal births and recovery, childcare, and relationship changes with a newborn. These topics are so so common in Postpartum Therapy, try to ensure that your provider can explore some of these topics with you.
-Resources: Let's be real, the birth community is pretty small. Need a Lactation Consultant, a second opinion on your IVF cycle, a Birth or Postpartum Doula, or a Pelvic Floor Therapist? We're all connected, and most of us can give you a solid referral for these any many other birth specialists.
The most important thing is getting the help you need, and the reality is that finding a "good fit" therapist can take time. Hopefully this list can help you when weeding out different providers. Talk to your friends and family; a personal referral can go a long way. Ask your OB, midwife, or doula, for a referral, again we're all connected. And please check out Postpartum Support International (postpartum.net).