I have the hardest time remembering what to say when I visit a doctor. During the days prior to my appointment I spend time thinking about the symptoms and/or feelings that I should address, but when I sit down and face her, much of it just floats away.
The stress of that day presses in. All that I need to get done distracts me. I’m probably checking my phone because I need to be sure to leave by 3:10 pm to pick up Ronin at the bus.
Now amplify that 1,000 times for a new mom. She’s dealing with a brand new life and all of the stress and challenges that entails. Maybe she’s also dealing with a 2-year-old and his intense issues adjusting to his baby sibling like I was. Or the dog barking, which never bothered her before, is now like a lightning rod for anxiety.
She goes to her first post-baby appointment and her doctor asks how she’s doing. During those first few weeks she hasn’t had the moments of joy she’s heard so much about. Maybe she’s been feeling like something is wrong or out of place, but she just can’t put her finger on it. She can’t even explain it to herself, much less her doctor.
Words fail her, much like mine often do. But in her case, this could be devastating. She could be suffering from a postpartum mood disorder and not even realize it. She chalks it up to being over tired and stressed like any new mom, and she does not get the treatment she needs.
Do you know a new mom who might be struggling with her mental health?
Do you work or interact with new moms on a regular basis?
I believe this is so very important, so I wanted to share a brand new resource for new moms that is just fantastic.
The New Mom Checklist for Maternal Mental Health Help created by Postpartum Progress.
Download and Print HERE.
This free printable tool is very simple and clear, using plain mama English written at “a fifth grade reading level, and was developed with feedback from clinical experts and more than 30 survivors of maternal mental illness.”
It easily allows the new mom to introduce what’s been going on with her doctor, without the need to remember what to say in the moment. Using check boxes to select her symptoms and stress factors, she can tell her doctor about her current state of being, and enables a more informed dialog with her healthcare professional.
The form begins:
“I’d like to talk to you about the stress I’ve been having since I had my baby. Because I’m exhausted, overwhelmed & struggling, this is the best way for me to make sure you know what is going on with me, and that I might need your help.”
According to Postpartum Progress, “The checklist was created to facilitate helpful conversation between struggling mothers and the clinicians who can assist them. It allows moms to check off a wide variety of evidence-based symptoms and risk factors that may indicate the presence of perinatal mood or anxiety disorders.”
In addition, Postpartum Progress also has plans to create a double-sided tear-off pad version of the form with larger font to share with advocacy organizations and clinicians. These will be available for distribution in July 2015. A checklist for pregnant moms concerned they may have depression or anxiety during pregnancy is also on the way.