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What is a Perinatal Mood Disorder?

Recently, the media has reported several stories relating to perinatal mood disorders (more commonly considered to be post-partum depression, but are not limited to depression). Guidelines around who should get screened and when have taken center stage. Despite this attention, many don’t realize what perinatal mood disorders are or whether or not they are at risk for one.

black-and-white-person-woman-girl-mediumQuite simply, a perinatal mood disorder is a mental health concern that occurs either during pregnancy or post-partum. This can include depression, anxiety, obsessive thoughts, paranoid thinking, and thoughts to harm yourself or your baby. While these concerns exist prior to pregnancy for individuals, they can be exacerbated during pregnancy and after for several environmental reasons: changes in hormones and lack of sleep are two prevalent factors. Of course, not everyone who has a baby experiences changes in mood, and certainly, some people seem to be more resilient during this transition.

Common symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder may include:
*Changes in sleep (not being able to sleep at all, even when the baby is or
oversleeping)
*Irritability
*Fears of something happening to the baby (being dropped, not
breathing, etc)
*Concerns (despite weight gain) that baby isn’t eating enough
*Uncontrollable crying
*Disinterest or lack of connection to the babypexels-photo-48566-medium
*A feeling of not being yourself

Nearly 1 in 8 women (and 1 in 10 men) experience a perinatal mood disorder. Treatment is simple and can range from therapy, medication, or both. However, without treatment, there can be long-term consequences that are dangerous for both mother and baby, as studies of depressed mothers have shown difficulties in their children as they age. There is a simple screening that you can opt to take to see if you might be experiencing a perinatal mood disorder and it can be found here. People who are are risk for developing a perinatal mood disorder include those that have experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy; those that have a family member who had a perinatal mood disorder; those with a history (or family history) of depression or anxiety; those that have suffered a pregnancy loss; those that conceived through infertility; those with a baby that was in the NICU; teenage mothers; those that are having financial/housing/medical concerns; and those that do not have a social support system or a limited one. Certainly, this is not an exhaustive list, but is inclusive of many “red flags”.

 

If you are concerned about you or someone you know that might be having difficultly adjusting to life postpartum, you can contact your OB-GYN/Midwife/Primary Care Physician about a mental health referral. It is important that the clinician you meet with has experience and training in treating perinatal mood disorders as it is not something that most graduate programs cover.

By Julie Bindeman,  Psy-D

http://www.greaterwashingtontherapy.com/

TIME – the Most Precious Commodity of All

breastfeeding momMost mothers are stressed when they have a new baby. I absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother – and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. Being tired is on my mind right now, because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six-day-old, she flat-out told me that, “this breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting? Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand on the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.”

The mom went on to explain that nursing every two hours was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breast milk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert; feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer like “the witching hours.” I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”

So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days.

  • If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have to get the show on the road once in a while), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other: Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week…whoops; I should have been more clear with my instructions.
  • Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTHING, isn’t it? So, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in! As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
  • Remember the saying “time is fleeting,” so are these stages!  Many times these cluster feeds will pass quickly and after a couple days you’ll have an entirely new baby.  It’s important to keep in mind that babies patterns change quickly and you won’t always be feeding around the clock. 

When I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations unrealistic as to how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Blog written by  Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC, 

Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Peace of Mind; Living Free of Fear of Losing a Child

Your family is your life and protecting your children from harm’s way is a growing problem and now it is now possible with technology.  Your child’s safety and whereabouts can now be monitored via your smartphone.  Children can have the ability to alert you when they are under duress, in trouble or find themselves lost.

Children 2-10 years old, toddlers and even newborns traveling and under supervision of others can be monitored 24/7 in five minute intervals and located immediately and automatically via e-mail or text messaging.  You set the schedule – minutes or hours – and receive regular alerts with the exact location of your child.  An SOS button allows older children to summon for help which includes their location as well as automatic tracking alerts to entrusted individuals you choose to receive them.

This child tracking solution is dependent upon 2 technologies – GPS (Global Positioning System) and wireless communications or cell phone (GSM). Anywhere you can receive both a GPS signal and have cell phone reception, the solution will work.

The solution was developed by the father of a young daughter who became lost at an amusement park for several hours.  After finding her and being an IT technologist, decided to develop a solution for preventing this from happening again.   He funded Amber Alert GPS and engineered the Law Enforcement Alerting Portal (‘LEAP”) used by law enforcement in states to issue the actual Amber Alerts.  The LEAP system is the fastest and most efficient alerting technology in the nation, and allows States to share Amber Alerts cross-borders. To date, law enforcement in the States using the LEAP system have a 100% recovery rate of all children for whom an Amber Alert was issued.

Protect your children.

Choosing Your Pediatrician for Your Baby

presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

The following is an excerpt of a chapter from the book Raising Your Child in Washington, DC, a resource for parents available in local bookstores.   by Dr. Michele R. Berman

One of the most important tasks a parent must undertake is the selection of a pediatrician for their baby or older child.  Besides being a place to take a sick child, or a place to get “baby shots,” a pediatrician’s office is an important resource for new or experienced parents.  Today, many families find themselves without the traditional support systems that their own parents had available to them.  Family members are often separated by many miles.  For these families, the pediatrician provides advice and encouragement, as well as basic child-care knowledge.  Many pediatricians see patients from birth through adolescence, so picking the right pediatrician may well be the beginning of a “long term relationship.”

Pediatrics, in general, is a preventive health care specialty.  Well-care visits provide the framework of information to keep your child happy and healthy.  A typical well-care visit starts with weighing and measuring the child and plotting those measurements on a growth chart to follow their progress.  The pediatrician will then ask several questions about your child’s eating, sleeping, and bowel habits, and about what new developmental milestones have been passed.  Then it’s your turn to ask the doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.   Write them down as you think of them at home, and bring the list with you.  After examining the child, the pediatrician may discuss a variety of topics, such as immunizations, safety issues, or behavior issues.  Some will also have handouts to supplement the discussion.  On average, there are seven well visits in the first year, three in the second year, and one every one to two years thereafter.

The Prenatal Appointment

If this is your first child, the decision as to who the baby’s pediatrician will be should be made well in advance of your due date.  (Remember – babies often come earlier than expected!)  This allows the pediatrician you choose to give your newborn its very first exam in the hospital, and to support you during those joyful, yet overwhelming first days.  Although all pediatricians are dedicated to helping you raise healthy, happy children, each has his or her own approach.  You will, therefore, want to meet with several pediatricians so that you can pick the one with whom you feel most comfortable and whose approach is most consistent with your own ideas about child raising.

Most pediatricians encourage parents to come for a prenatal appointment.  This is your opportunity not only to meet the pediatrician but look at the office itself.  If possible, both parents should be present, so you will both agree on your choice.  When you set up the visit, find out who you will be seeing (one or more doctors? Office staff?), about how long it will last, and if there is a charge for the visit.  If the visit consists of a quick hello by the pediatrician while the office staff shows you around, there may not be a fee.  However, there may be a charge if the pediatrician sets aside a block of time specifically to talk with you and answer any questions you have.  Many insurance companies will pay for this, but check with your plan first.

During the interview you should first find out about how the practice works.  What are the office hours?  Do they include evening or weekend hours?  How are after-hours calls handled?  Who are the doctors in the practice and what are their qualifications?  Can you see any of the doctors in the group, or are you assigned to one doctor?  How far in advance do you have to call to get a well child appointment?  A sick child appointment?  To what hospitals do the doctors admit their patients?  Do the doctors come to the hospital where you are delivering?  Who handles phone calls during the day and after hours?  What is the schedule of visits and immunizations?  Most pediatricians follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics for these.

Secondly, try to get a feel for the pediatrician’s personality.  How does he/she respond to your questions?  Does he/she seem open to your concerns or does he/she seem to shrug them off?  Are they stiff or relaxed?  Distracted?  Do they have a good sense of humor?  Observe how he/she interacts with the patients that may be in the office at the time of your visit.  The feelings you get during your visit will set the time for the relationship you will develop with the pediatrician you choose.  You want to feel comfortable and confident about someone who is going to help you take care of that special baby of yours.

Ask the pediatrician questions about topics such as: What is their thoughts about circumcision, breast feeding, or the use of antibiotics or other medications?  If you are going to breastfeed, what kind of support can they give you?  What is their philosophy about the role of a pediatrician?

Lastly, look around the office.  Does it seem inviting to children?  Are there things for the children to do if they have to wait to see the doctor?  Will older children and adolescents also feel comfortable here?  Are there ways to separate sick from well children?  What kind of feelings do you get about the office staff?  The nursing staff and front desk personnel are also important in making a trip to the doctor a pleasant experience.

Looking for Dr. Right

So, where do you find your dream pediatrician?  There are several ways.  First, ask your friends and neighbors who they use.  Are they happy there?  What do they like about the office?  Is there anything they don’t like?  Next, ask your nurse-midwife for a list of pediatricians they frequently recommend and on whom they have gotten positive feedback.  Your internist, family practitioner and other medical professionals can also be good resources.

Increasingly, families find themselves as part of health plans that limit their choices to physicians who are members of the plan.  In this instance, start with the list provided by the health plan and see which physicians are available in your area.  Then ask the resources listed above what they know about those physicians.  Make an appointment with the pediatricians you’d like to know more about.

Pediatrician’s fees may vary widely.  Don’t be afraid to ask about fees before you go to the office.  Ask if you will have to pay for services at the time of the visit, or whether they will bill you or submit the insurance claim for you.  If you are a member of a health plan, and the pediatrician is a provider for that plan, they will file for you, but you must usually pay a small co-payment at each visit.  Look at your health plan or insurance coverage carefully.  Not all insurance plans cover well-child care, or you may have to meet a deductible, or they may only cover a certain number of well visits.  For these financial matters, it’s best to know what the office policies are before you get there.  If you anticipate a problem with payments, many offices will work with you, as long as you talk to them up front.

As mentioned earlier, many families find themselves using the same pediatrician for many years, so you want to choose one with whom you feel comfortable, and in whom you have confidence.  Shop around.  Ask questions.  Use and trust your instincts.  Remember, your decision does not have to be a final one.  If you are unhappy with your choice, there are many other fine physicians in the area.  Good luck, and happy parenting!

Dr.Berman practiced pediatrics in the Washington, D.C. area until the year 2000 She currently is co-founder with her husband of www.celebritydiagnosis.com.