Happy February! The staff here at The Center for Postpartum Family Health would like to suggest that Valentine’s Day is a chance to nurture love between ALL members of a family, specifically between you and your baby. This special bond of affection and care between baby and caregiver is often called “attachment.” We will clarify what attachment means, and what you can do to encourage it with your baby. When a mom is suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety, it can be very difficult to “feel” attached to the baby. Fortunately, feeling attached is not the way to measure attachment; rather it is seen in the behavioral patterns between mom and baby that can be practice by any mother.
Attachment has been defined as “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” While parenting styles may differ between families, the most important factor in normal attachment is that your baby is being well cared for in a consistent and loving way, and that they are learning that they can trust their caregivers to feed, know and comfort them. With that in mind: here are a few behavioral tips for encouraging attachment with your baby:
Gazing. After baby is fed and dry, spend five to ten minute just looking at them. Study the variations in their responses and reactions and try to learn something new about them. Notice the subtlety of their movements and noises.
Talk to your baby. Even if you are feeling depressed or anxious, your baby will learn the sound of your voice as a consistent presence in their lives.If you are not sure what to say, reading books or anything else you have around is a good option.Narrate what you are doing, even if it is just making a bottle, changing clothes or doing the dishes.
Hold your baby.The old idea that babies can be spoiled by too much holding is no longer considered true. (Although you still may hear it from Grandmother or Great Auntie!) If you are comfortable using a baby-carrier or wrap, by all means use it! If you feel too depressed or ill to hold your baby, make sure they are being held by someone.Fortunately, newborn infants are happy to receive care from anybody, and it is fine to get a lot of help while you are recovering.
Attachment builds throughout the first five years of your child’s life. If you have postpartum depression or anxiety, DO NOT beat yourself up, or tell yourself you are doing harm to your child. Make sure you have a good support system, with lots of help, so that you can recover quickly.
Item #8 of our Well Mom Checklist is “Have I kissed my baby and told them I love them today?” This is a reminder about attachment. It is a behavior you can practice every day, even when you are not feeling it. One of the things we tell our moms recovering from depression is to “fake it till you make it.” This doesn’t mean pretend that you are not ill, it means give your baby signs of love and affection, even if you don’t feel it completely, and they will reap the benefits. Eventually, you will be well, and it will be the most natural thing in the world. Hang in there, Moms. We LOVE you!
At CPFH we are committed to helping every new mom thrive during her transition to motherhood. CPFH is a group of professional counselors and therapists specializing in mental health services related to challenges associated with pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety.
Psychotherapy and counseling has been found to be very helpful to those with mental health issues during pregnancy and postpartum. It also helps with other emotional, mental and relationship challenges, as it provides a safe and confidential place to discuss whatever is troubling you. Our staff provides individual,couples and family therapy based on a sliding scale six days a week. If you need a place to talk through what you are feeling and thinking, and find help in developing a plan for improvement, we are here for you. We want to help you be a well mom!
Clinicans and Gottman Trained Educators Tricia Miller (LPC-Intern) and Kim Jones (LMFT-Associate) kicked off their Bringing Baby Home Workshop last month to a SOLD OUT audience at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in west Houston. If you are interested in attending a future workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A MOTHER'S STORY
Deepa's story details a real story of recovery from postpartum depression from a mom who has been there. Used by permission. Follow Deepa's Blog Here.
A vengeful and ferocious depression had swallowed me whole. For months, I occupied it's murky and desolate innards, barely remembering a life in the light. And then one day, I determinedly clawed my way back up, pried open it's fanged jowl and catapulted myself out.
A potent cocktail of intensive therapy, painstakingly titrated medication and radical self-care, had conspired to mend my head and my heart.
What's most frightening about descending into a chronic depression, is how rapidly you forget the sensation of well-being. But more petrifying, by far, is coming up for air, knowing how incredibly fragile and ephemeral that recovery can be.I continue to live with a tempestuous toddler. He regales and torments me. He charms and challenges me. He forces me out - of home, of comfort zones, of myself. But what was once unrelenting overwhelm, is now organized chaos.
With eyes shut, I occasionally attempt to recall those days of untold despair. I cannot, truly, and am incredibly grateful for that fact. Yet, I'm fully-aware that there's always darkness lurking, just around the corner, taunting and tempting me into re-entering it's bleak, but familiar confines. But I've found my way out once, and I will, again. And again.
Rendie Brown graduated from Midwestern State University with her Bachelor's Degree in psychology and from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with her Master's Degree in family therapy. Through these experiences, she has developed a passion for helping new moms and couples navigate their emotions through their perinatal experience. Rendie has experience working with anxiety, depression, and marital concerns, as well as adjustment and life transitions. Other areas of experience include helping the couple to adjust to parenthood and grief and loss surrounding the placement of a child for adoption. She is comfortable incorporating faith and spirituality into her work with clients.
Rendie also is a Certified Prepare Enrich Facilitator which helps her to assist premarital couples increase their relationship skills in preparation for marriage. This program can also be used with married couples that are seeking to improve their relationship. As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate, Rendie Brown is currently practicing under the supervision of Sherry Duson, M.A., LMFT-S, LPC-S.
Mama's Night Out Friday Fitness Fun - January 31st
An enthusiastic bunch of expectant and new moms came out to work out at the 24 Hour Fitness in the Galleria with our friends from Bayou City Mamas. The night was action packed with kickboxing, strength training, and ab work! Thanks to our trainers and friends, Cristina Kashi and Valerie Mundt, for leading a fun and educational night for our moms!
Mental Health America (MHA) of Greater Houston Presentation (February 5th)
(Pictured from Left to Right) MHA of Greater Houston director of Education, Tiffany Ross, CPFH Director, Sherry Duson, and fellow YCMF Board Member, Michele Parker-Schauer, at The Harris County WIC Professional staff training. Sherry taught a workshop giving an overview of perinatal mental health.
New Moms Support Group (Recurring) 12-1 p.m. FREE Weekly Wednesday Postpartum Depression/Anxiety/Adjustment support group. Led by Clinician Kim Jones.
No sign-up necessary. Baby-friendly. Email or call our office for more info!
Copperfield MOPS Presentation
March 7th (10:30 a.m. at Copperfield Church)
Clinician Tricia Miller will be presenting on Maternal Mental Health.
Woodlands Wellness Coaltion Presentation
March 22nd (7 p.m.)
Clinician Tricia Miller will be presenting on Mindfulness at Foundation Chiropractic.
INDIVIDUAL, COUPLE, AND FAMILY COUNSELING SERVICES AND ASSESSMENT AVAILABLE 6 DAYS A WEEK. FEES BASED ON SLIDING SCALE.
TO SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT, CALL 713.561.3884 OR
Part of our mission at CPFH is to educate the community and raise awareness regarding maternal mental health and other related topics. Our trained therapists are available to do presentations on wellness, mental health, and relationships, and are able to tailor our talks to your group or organization. To request us at your next event, please email us.
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