Maternal Mental Health Awareness - Huntington & Smithtown Moms

May is Maternal Month awareness Month, and we teamed up with Tanairy Fernandez, MS.Ed, LMHC, NCC, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and owner of Balance Mental Health Counseling to talk about the signs you should be looking out for, and where to get help on Long Island!.

As a professional in the mental health field Tanairy wants mothers and family members to know there is nothing wrong with seeking help. It important for family and friends to know the difference between “baby blues” and a mental health condition. According to the American Pregnancy Association 70-80% of all new mothers experience some changes in their moods after delivery their baby. These changes in mood can seem like depression, but are normal signs of hormonal changes. They note that signs of baby blues happen four to five days after having the baby,and can be sooner for some if they had complications during the delivery. Some of the symptoms of baby blues are: crying for no apparent reason, impatient, irritability, restless, anxiety, sadness, mood changes, and unable t sleep even when the baby is sleeping. Symptoms of baby blues should go away after 3 weeks from the delivery date. However, if these symptoms last longer it can be due to having a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. I recommend if a mother is going through “baby blues” to seek professional counseling services at that time and not wait until it gets worse. It has been reported that women who have baby blues are at high risk of postpartum major depression. 
According to the DSM-5 Major depressive disorder with peripartum onset is diagnosed after four weeks following the delivery. 1 in 5 women will meet criteria for a maternal mental health disorder. Its’ noted that up to 6% of women will experience depressive symptoms during pregnancy and weeks before the delivery date. Of the 50% of women who are diagnosed with “postpartum” major depression had these symptoms before their baby arrived. This is important information because many people talk about evaluating the mother after having the baby, but medical professional and families need to be aware of these symptoms before the baby arrives to prevent symptoms from getting worse. Some women may have high anxiety, manic episodes or psychotic features. 
Findings from the American Medical Association showed that 1 in 10 fathers develop paternal postpartum depression. The study showed that the rates were higher during the 3 to 6 month after delivery. The rates increase to 50% of fathers are at risk of getting depression if their partner has a perinatal Mood and anxiety disorder. It is critical that men are also aware to seek help, because many times they suffer in silence. 
Its refreshing to know that mental health services are available to women before and after delivery. A couple of times during the year I provide a Bringing Baby Home workshop for couples who are pregnant or have a child below the age of two. The focus of the workshop is to Learn how to maintain relationship satisfaction after having a baby, Reduce relationship hostility and increase affection, Promote positive parent-baby interactions, Promote quality involvement for both parents, and Reduce the incidence or severity of postpartum mood disorders. John Gottman the creator of the program says “One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a strong relationship between the two of you”. 
Its a good idea for mothers to join a support group with other women who have a new born. Community connection, counseling, and family support is key in helping mothers decrease the depressive symptoms associated with having a baby. 
Great resources in the area: 
Mamamoon Long Island provide Volunteers to help new mom in need. Free service. 
You can also contact your Insurance company to find therapists in your area. 
You can also contact Tanairy:
Balance Mental Health Counseling, PLLC 
755 New York Ave
Suite 230
Huntington, NY 11743

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