Recently I attended the 4th annual Perinatal Mental Health Conference and just want to share some tidbits with you. Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Montana Coalition has done an excellent job every year in finding amazing speakers.
Dr. Linda Mayes is a pediatrician who wears many hats at Yale School of Medicine including research focusing on stress response and regulatory mechanisms in young children. She and a colleague, Helena Rutherford developed Minding the Baby Approach to parenting. A crying baby can elicit frustration but if one can take a breath and ask what the child is experiencing, solutions can be found more easily. This diffuses the stress and leads to happier babies and parents. Another gem they shared was that what we call Mommy Brain (aka Pregnancy Brain) is most likely a reorganization of brain function (neurodevelopment) or a fine tuning/specialization to make us better care givers. So don't despair if you can't find your keys for the 10th time - your focus is on being the best parent possible. The biggest changes happen with the first child but then continues slightly with subsequent babies.
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies right here in Helena MT themselves shared a new resource they have just launched called LIFTS (Linking Infants and Families to Supports). Here you will find resources, events and stories about parenting.
We heard from D'Shane Barnett MS over in Missoula about the importance of ceremony and traditional practices of indigenous people. Drumming and dancing can have preventative and healing properties. It inspired me to dig out my djembe (an African hand drum).
I am very rusty but it felt good to play around with it. I have also started playing the piano again. It's been several years since I played it much and boy is it a stress reliever. Should never have stopped but that can't be helped now. Just going to play whenever I can. It's a good thing we lived on the farm when I was a kid and nearest neighbors were 1/2 mile away. I would get home from school and play loudly and fast to work out the stress of the day. Even if you don't play an instrument, getting a good rhythm going on Spotify can reduce stress. And go ahead, jive to it. Who cares if you can't dance.
Once last thing I want to share from the conference is that social media, while it may be useful in making a person feel more connected, most likely it can lead to increased anxiety and depression. The reason for this is that people mostly only share the good stuff and its really easy to compare ourselves to "that perfection" and feel like miserable failures. So be judicious with the accounts you follow - ones that uplift and inspire, that are real, not the ones that are unrealistic.
Finally I would like to remind you that I am here to support you in your journey through pregnancy and the transition to parenthood. I am certified in perinatal mental health. I serve on the Helena Maternal Mental Health Task Force and rub shoulders with some amazing providers so I can make appropriate referrals. As well, I facilitate an online moms group and would love to have you join me on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month. You can find the link here: Hope Springs Maternal.
To your health.