By Penny Simkin| October 27, 2009
"Author/lecturer, doula, childbirth educator, Penny Simkin, PT, talks about pain in labor and the concept of "when pain becomes suffering."
By Penny Simkin| Oct 30, 2015
"Author and educator, Penny Simkin offers an introduction to the serious topic of traumatic childbirth including symptoms of PTSD and suggestions for facilitating postpartum recovery from a traumatic birth experience.
Traumatic childbirth occurs in as many as 25-34 percent of all births. Approximately one-third of those women may develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
For more information, visit pattch.org. Penny is one of the founders of PATTCh, Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic childbirth, whose vision is "a world where women, infants and families, experience optimal physical and mental health in pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period."
Research on this condition is only about 10 years in the making.
By Julie Revelant
"When I had my first child six years ago, I was grateful breastfeeding turned out to be, for the most part, a smooth ride.
After a visit with the hospital lactation consultants, who showed me the best breastfeeding positions and gave me the support I needed, I was on my way, and continued to breastfeed exclusively for the next 12 months.
In those early months, though, I'd experience something odd-and often frightening-that I never told anyone about. When my daughter latched on and my milk let down, an intense feeling of anxiety, panic, and doom would wash over my entire body. For a brief moment-about 20 to 30 seconds-I had a sudden irrational fear that something bad was going to happen.
And as quickly as the feelings came, they went.
It was always unsettling and, at times, scary, but becuase I had struggled with anxiety for as long as I could remeber, I chalked it up to biology and hormones.
When I gave birth to my second child two years later, I wasn't surprised those same feelings surfaced once again. It was still unsettling, but thankfully, it didn't affect my ability to breasfeed her for 13 months.
Yet it continued to nag at me, and as a health journalist, I wanted to know why I'd often write about breastfeeding, and when I asked my sources if this was common, most of them had no idea what I was talking about. Then one day, I spoke with a lactation consultant and she told me what I had experienced was real and it had a name: D-MER: Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.
By Sara Petersen| February 12, 2020 at 11:30 AM EST
"He only sleeps if he's being held," I told my pediatrician at my son's 2 week checkup. "Or," I paused, fearful of shame, "in the swing."
Without looking up from his doctor computer thing, my pediatrician immediately lectured me about safe sleep and SIDS. When I told him we had tried everything and nothing else worked and sleep deprivation had plunged me into postpartum depression after the birth of my two older kids, he lectured me about therapy. When I told him I was on Zoloft and in weekly communication with my therapist, he told me to hang in there.
I left the office in tears, feeling unsupported, feeling as though I had no workable options, and mostly feeling as though I was somehow wrong, that I was a bad mother.
To many mothers, my story is simply another drop in the bucket of ways our health-care system abandon mothers. Babies recieve at least six well-visits with their pediatricians in the first year of life. The mothers of those babies, whose bodies and emotional lives have been entirely upended, recieve one well-visit.
I was lucky enough to turn to my postpartum doula after that demoralizing appointment, and together, we had a nuanced conversation on how to attend to my son's sleep safety while also prioritizing my own sleep needs so I could show up for my family and feel like myself.
But far too many mothers are left unsupported and exhausted, desperate for sleep."
How women find the strength to endure multiple pregnancy losses
February 9, 2020| By Meghan Holohan
"Soon after getting married, Jenn and Phil Tompkins learned they were expecting a baby. Tompkins had always dreamed of being a mother and wanted to start her family as soon as possible. At six weeks pregnant, she excitedly announced it on Facebook.
"It's not a fantastic thing to do on multiple levels because once you announce it, not everyone gets the un-announcement," Tompkins, 43, of Freeport, Pennsylvania, told TODAY Parents.
When Tompkins went to her eight week ultrasound, she worried when the technician kept asking her questions.
"She asked if we were sure on our date, which I thought was a weird question, and she turned the screen away and said she had to come back," Tompkins explained.
The tech returned with the doctor and they shared the news.
"The baby stopped developing and did not have a heartbeat," Tompkins said. "That day our world changed."
The doctor advised the couple wait for Tompkins body to heal before trying again. Soon after, Tompkins got pregnant again and miscarried. A third time, Tompkins became pregnant and lost the baby. After her third miscarriage, her doctor recommended she visit a maternal-fetal specialist who could test the couple to try to understand why the miscarriage kept happening. Before they even tried any treatments, Tompkins became pregnanct again."
Grieving patients are encouraged to see and hold their stillborn infacnts--and in some cases even bring them home.
By Sarah Zhang February 12, 2020
Katie Marin/The Atlantic
"AARHUS, Denmark-When Ane Petrea Ornstrand's daughter was stillborn at 37 weeks, she and her husband spent five days in the hospital grieving with their dead daughters body. They held her and cried. They took photos. They welcomed family and freinds and visitors. And then they brought her home for four more days, where she lay on ice packs that they changed every eight hours.
If you had asked Ornstrand before she herself went through this in 2018, she might have found it strange or even morbid. She's aware, still, of how it can sound. "Death is such a taboo," she says. "You have to hurry, get the dead out, and get them buried in order to move on. But that's not how things work." In those moments with her daughter, it felt like the most natural thing to see her, to hold her, and to take her home. The hospital allowed--even gently encouraged--her to do all that.
This would have been unthinkable 30 or 40 years ago, when standard hospital practice was to take stillborn babies away soon after birth. "It was and have another and forget about it," says, Dorte Hvidtjorn, a midwife at Aarhus University Hospital. Since then, a revolution in thinking about stillbirth has swept throught hospitals, as the medical profession began to recognize the importance of the parent-child bond even in mourning. These changes have come to American hospitals, too."
Medically reviewed by Carissa Stephens, RN, CCRN, CPN on March 3, 2020--Written By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS
"We're advised to plan our registries and plan our births, but what about planning for our mental health?
I distinctly remember standing in the bedding aisle at Babies "R" Us (RIP) for 30 minutes, simply staring.
I spent longer than that trying to figure out the best bottles and stroller and swing for our baby girl. These decisions, at the time, seemed life or death.
Yet I barely spent anytime on what's truly important: my mental health.
Of course, I am not alone. Many of us spend hours researching the right crib, care seat, and paint color for our baby's room. We pen meticulous birth plans, hunt for the best pediatrician, and secure solid child care.
And while these are critical, too (the paint color perhaps less so), ouir mental health becomes an afterthought--if we think about it at all."
By Meredith Goldstein
"I've been the relationship advice columnist at The Boston Globe for more than a decade. That means I've answered thousands of letters from the lovelorn.
But when friends and family ask for advice, it's more complicated. It can be fraught-sometimes I know too much and it can be difficult to remain objective.
Also, if I don't get it right, I could hurt someone I love.
I think it works that way for a lot of us. Helping a stranger can be easier than advising someone we've known forever.
That's why I teamed up with Life Kit to figure out some best practices. Turns out, good advice is often about loosening the body, opening the mind and, more often than not, keeping your mouth shut."
July 4, 2019
By Lana Hallowes
"How awesome are these NICU nurses? They are going about their important tasks while babywearing the bubs they care for when their parents aren’t able to."
"The photos, shared by Kangatraining Austrailia show the hardworking nurses in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Germany doing what they do best-loving and caring for needy babies.
As any babywearing mama, or dad, will know, all babies love to be held close and carried, with the movement soothing them and often putting them to sleep."
Women's Mental Health At Key Stages In Life
Photo: Katherine Streeter for NPR
Menopause Can Start Younger Than You Think: Here's What You Need To Know
By Emily Vaughn & Rhitu Chatterjee
"Would you recognize the signs that your body is going through the big hormonal changes that lead to menopause? Here's what to look for-and what you can do about it."
"Sarah Edrie says she was about 33 when she started to occasionally get a sudden, hot, prickly feeling that radiated into her neck and face, leaving her flushed and breathless. "Sometimes I would sweat. And my heart would race," she says. The sensations subsided in a few moments and seemed to meet the criteria for a panic attack. But Edrie, who has no personal or family history of anxiety, was baffled.
She told her doctor and her gynecologist about the episodes, along with a few other health concerns she was starting to notice: Her menstrual cycle was becoming irregular, she had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and she was getting night sweats. Their response: a shrug.
It wasn't until Edrie went to a fertility clinic at age 39 because she and her partner were having trouble conceiving that she got answers. "They were like, 'Oh, those are hot flashes. It's because you're in perimenopause,' " she says.
If you haven't heard the term "perimenopause," you're not alone. Often when women talk about going through menopause, what they're really talking about is perimenopause, a transitional stage during which the body is preparing to stop ovulating, says Dr. Jennifer Payne, who directs the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins University."
HOW PUBERTY, PREGNANCY AND PERIMENOPAUSE AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH
Listen to the four podcasts below:
"January 14, 2020 • NPR's Morning Edition explores the key reproductive shifts in women's lives — puberty, pregnancy and perimenopause — and how the changes during those times could impact mental and emotional health."
"January 16, 2020 • Women with a history of depression and anxiety are at a higher risk of having a flare-up during the time leading up to menopause. And getting doctors to take the issue seriously can be challenging."
"January 15, 2020 • Nearly 1 in 7 women suffers from depression during pregnancy or postpartum. But very few get treatment. Doctors in Massachusetts have a new way to get them help."
"January 17, 2020 • NPR's Rachel Martin talks to menopause expert Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, division director of the Midlife Health Center at the University of Virginia, who answers listeners' questions."