The number of women suffering from postpartum depression is estimated to be somewhere between ten and twenty percent, depending on the study, and most of those studies are based on self reporting. Which means that these estimates could potentially be rather low. After all, how many new mothers actually take the time to get themselves help during that first year of parenting?
Financial stress alone has derailed many a new mom. The cost of childcare coupled with the vulnerability of a newborn can be overwhelming to women balancing work and parenting. Staying home full time can be a lonely business. And what about women who struggle with fertility, have difficult pregnancies or complicated births? Throw any of these factors into the mix and the risk of depression rises exponentially for women in the process of becoming parents.
The bottom line is that most new mothers need support of some kind. Fortunately, living in a big city like Los Angeles means that there are a variety of options.
- Talk it out: A good therapist can be a lifesaver for a new mom struggling to articulate all the conflicting feelings she is experiencing during this first year. Your OB/GYN can be a good source of referrals, as can your therapy friendly friends. Even if your insurance plan provides a list of therapists, make sure you run the names by someone to get an endorsement. Tracy King, LCSW (310) 399-9959 and Stefanie Klein (310) 204-5550 are two Westside therapists who both come highly recommended.
- Take something: Spend any time with a group of new mothers in Los Angeles and the subject of antidepressants comes up. There are a variety of small dosage options that won't affect breastfeeding and help take the edge off the emotional rollercoaster, especially for those who have suffered from depression and/or anxiety prior to parenthood. Educate yourself about your options and talk to your doctor openly about your concerns. And know that you are in good company.
- Tell me about it: Classes and support groups are available at Birth and Beyond in Santa Monica. They also offer Baby CPR classes, breastfeeding instruction, infant care and a variety of other helpful options. Instructors are warm, experienced and supportive. The Pump Station, which has locations in both Santa Monica and Hollywood, is known for their support for breastfeeding mothers, but also offers a number of classes on more general parenting issues. A Mother's Haven in Encino also comes recommended for support groups and classes.
- Truth is power: Most Hospitals offer support groups and offer information for new parents. For example, Good Beginnings is based out of Cedars-Sinai and available for parents who have had complicated births. Cedars also has a 24 hour hotline called the Warm Line offering child care information for kids from birth up to six years old.
Older generations often scoff at the idea of postpartum depression, believing it to be a luxury of an overly self aware and frivolous time. And even if it is, so what? Why suffer unnecessarily? People seem more than happy to encourage new mother's to work on their physical appearance, and yet aren't our emotional resources more important when it comes to parenting?
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