New Episode! Why Middle School Is So Tricky with Jessica Speer
Aug. 16, 2022

Postpartum Anxiety


In this weekś episode, we discuss postpartum anxiety. 

We are honored to speak with Allison Lieberman, a licensed marriage and family therapist, postpartum anxiety expert, mom of 2, and 2x postpartum anxiety survivor. She is the host of The New Mama Mentor® Podcast.  

Allison is the co-founder of Rooted in Harmony Counseling, a California-based group therapy practice dedicated to helping moms with anxiety, relationships, and parenting. 

Allison educates us about postpartum anxiety through her personal story and clinical experience. She shares her valuable resources with us and discusses how we can also advocate for spreading awareness so we can continue to help new moms. 

Resources: (Note: These are Amazon affiliate links at no extra cost to you, but we will earn a small commission on qualifying purchases) 

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts, Karen Klieman 

This Isn´t What I Expected, Karen Klieman

Postpartum Support International: https://www.postpartum.net/ 

Rooted in Harmony Counseling website: https://www.rihcounseling.com 

The New Mama Mentor® Podcast

RLM Favorite Developmental Products: https://www.reallifemomz.com/p/rlm-favorite-developmental-products/

RLM Favorite Products (products recommended by our guests and community): https://www.reallifemomz.com/p/real-life-momz-favorites/

It takes a lot of caffeine to keep up with kids, so if you would like to support the Real Life Momz Podcast, please buy us a cup of coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/reallifemomz 

Real Life Momz website: https://www.reallifemomz.com

--- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/reallifemomz/support

Transcript

Welcome to Real Life Momz, I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about moms having real conversations, sharing resources, and telling their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. This week, I'm joined by Allison Lieberman, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist, postpartum and anxiety expert, mom of two and two times postpartum anxiety survivor.

She is the co-founder of rooted in harmony counseling, a California based group therapy practice dedicated to helping moms with anxiety, relationships, and parenting. She is the host of the New Mama Mentor podcast, and today she is here to discuss the topic of postpartum anxiety.

 

Hi, Allison, and welcome to Real Life Momz and today we're going to discuss postpartum anxiety. And I know this is something that you personally had experience with, is that correct? Yes. Yes. And so I'm sure we'll hear a little bit about that story, but you've also dedicated your personal practice and have been helping new moms with anxiety and parenting.

Yeah. Thanks for having me. I'm really excited to be here and anything that can spread the knowledge around this. I'm all about.

Why don't you tell us a little bit about just your background yourself and what you're doing in your work?

Yeah. So as you said, I am a therapist and I struggled with postpartum anxiety after having both of my children, uh, after having my son, it was really sort of like the beginning of this whole process where I realized there wasn't enough information. There wasn't enough access around postpartum mental health in general. And so it sort of led me to this place of building my own practice and really dedicating my life's work to postpartum mental health. But most specifically postpartum anxiety since it's so unknown, I feel like the word is unknown.

Yeah. So I have a group I work with, four other clinicians and we all sort of have our own specialties within the realm of postpartum mental health.

That's amazing. Yeah. I'll be honest. I didn't even know about postpartum anxiety. I have two kids and embarrassing enough I work with babies and moms. I'm a pediatric physical therapist and still didn't know. And the reason I did hear about it was because about a month or so ago, I had somebody on my podcast Meagan Gordon Scheuerman came on and talked about postpartum depression and she mentioned it. So I had no idea.

I've never heard of it.

Yeah. And actually just to sort of add on to that so that you're not sitting in your embarrassment alone, you know, I was already a licensed therapist when I had kids. So I already went to school already, got my hours already sat for my exam. And I had never heard of postpartum anxiety. I had heard of postpartum depression. And as we all I think do, but I didn't really know much about it and what I did know, I didn't align with in my experience at the time. Yeah. I went to a lot of providers.

No one really could tell me what was causing my anxiety. And it was, I had always been anxious, but I had never experienced anxiety like that before.

So do you mind talking a little bit about really defining postpartum anxiety and what the difference is between that and postpartum depression?

Yeah, of course. So postpartum anxiety, it's sort of like an umbrella term for different disorders within that. So it sort of encapsulates general anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, and PTSD. So when we look at it from the perspective, it's sort of, it's pretty big, actually probably bigger than postpartum depression. We just don't really talk about it. And it's sort of the difference between the two is anxiety is the activation of the brain.

So we're heightened most of the time and typically not always, but typically it's around something happening to the baby. And that's why I think people don't recognize it because they think it's normal. And sometimes, too, it comes up less frequently, but there's a fear that something's going to happen to themselves and they're going to leave their baby.

Okay. I can see this happening. I mean, a lot of us are anxious about our babies, you know, so I can see why it can be just like, okay, they're just anxious, but  how do you even know when it, when it is over the edge? I guess. Yeah.

Great question. So like, when you think of the anxiety, in terms of like, some people don't like flying, some people don't care. Right. You know, that's a very personalized experience. Whereas, like postpartum, we have to be anxious. We have to be heightened to maintain the health and wellness of our babies. Right. So it's really the difference between how much is it impacting your functioning and your day-to-day life versus how much of this is just like the typical, like, okay, we're just making sure baby has a wet diaper or a dry diaper or taking them to their appointments.

Like, those are all stressful things, but they're not necessarily impacting your functioning. Whereas somebody who's struggling with like postpartum anxiety, it's, you know, obsessively tracking diapers after three months. Right. When, you know, there are some cases where that's necessary, but not typically, um, calling the pediatrician all the time, like to think of, I don't know if you ever watched the show friends.

Oh, my favorite show.

Emma and Rachel is calling the pediatrician about everything like that is postpartum anxiety.

Cause I did that. I did that. I mean, not everything, but I like, I think I had anxiety around food or something like that. Cause I had, I didn't understand how to feed the kid. I was like, so do I try this? And I be like, I'm trying pears now people like, is that okay? Like call friends, I would call the doctor. I would, I actually had my kid try peanut butter in the doctor's office. Like we were in the waiting room and I was like, oh, it's peanut time. I'm going to give it to them in the waiting room. So if there's an anaphylactic shock, the doctor's right there is that anxiety.

Of course, like there's a realistic fear around like a peanut allergy. Right. It's sort of like ingrained in us that, you know, if somebody has a peanut allergy and you don't know it and they have peanuts, then like they could just die. So like there's, there's some truth in that. And so that's sort of where the anxiety grows and most people know one that it's probably not going to happen. And to like, you could call 9 1, 1, you don't have to introduce it in the middle of the doctor's office, but that was like your safety net.

And then the thing is like the validation validation seeking is huge with anxiety, but more specifically OCD.

Oh, wow. Okay.

Yeah. So when we aren't necessarily confident in our decisions and we're anxious that our decision is going to be detrimental, we seek validation from people around us. So we don't feel alone.

Oh boy, I was a mess. I probably could have used a clinic like your own.

Yeah. Yeah. And we don't realize it. And so they're sort of like the perpetual things comes up with like pelvic floor health too. But you know, you say something to someone like, oh, I'm really stressed that like, you know, when the baby goes to sleep at night that they're not going to wake up and somebody else who may be experienced that, that didn't know they had anxiety would be like, yeah, that's totally normal. Like it's okay. It's okay that you're obsessing over it and checking on the baby every five minutes. So we're sort of perpetuating this narrative that like, it's okay to be anxious because it's normal.

But what you're saying and it really isn't normal.

Yeah. Stress is normal. Anxiety is not.

Now you did struggle with postpartum anxiety. Can you share some of your experiences and story behind that?

Yeah, definitely. So, you know, I think with all postpartum anxiety struggles, the story starts before the baby. So I, my dad died when I was really young and my mom was also really ill for a while. And so my life was just sort of surrounded with like the potential of death and dying. And I spent a lot of time avoiding processing that. And so when I found out I was pregnant with my son, I really tried hard to like avoid the attachment for fear that something bad was going to happen.

Even though I was excited to be pregnant. Like I did not want to admit that I was attached to him. And then when I was 36 weeks, like to the day my water broke and I went to the hospital and they said like, everything seems fine. He seems fine. He doesn't need the NICU team.

And I was like, great. That sounds great. And so he came out, he was crying, all of that. And they went to like weigh him and all of that. And they were like flicking his foot and no one was saying anything to me. And so I said like, is everything okay? And they were like, oh, we don't like how he sounds. And I was like, okay. And then next thing I knew full team of medical professionals came in, pulled him out. My husband went with them and then I was just in the room alone. That's frightening.

It was terrifying. And then, but I am a chronic like under exaggerator because I've had anxiety for a lot of my life. So I've learned to do that. So I was like, it's okay. He's okay. This is normal, whatever. And so, but then when I saw him, it was like the whole, everything just came crashing down, but I didn't want anybody to know.

So that was like, sort of like the first clue in hindsight that like something was probably going to go awry at some point. Is that like, I did not want to tell anybody how I felt, and I didn't tell my family. I didn't tell my husband. I didn't tell my friends. It was just like, yeah, he was in the NICU, but he's fine. Right. So we went home, and everything was good for a while. Like I had baby blues in the sense that like anything would make me cry, but it dissipated. And then it was just the anxiety. But when I would go to bed at night, I would close my eyes, and I would have these really vivid images of him drowning in a pool.

Wow. It was like nothing that had ever happened to me before. And I would wake up and be like, oh my gosh, like that is the most disturbing thought I need to go check on him. So then I would go check on him and make sure that he was still breathing. And then that was sort of the start of this OCD-type behavior. Every time I had one of those thoughts, which was every night.

The same, the same type of dream of him drowning or just different dreams.

Yeah. So it wasn't a dream. I was awake.

Oh, you're awake. Okay.

Yeah. So they're what we call intrusive thoughts, and they can be images or they can be thoughts and mine were just images. So I could like very vividly see a picture of him drowning while I'm awake. So that's sort of why it was so disturbing. And I couldn't just write it off as like, oh, that was a really bad nightmare. And it was impacting my ability to sleep because I'd have to do the whole process. Like every time I had the thought I'd have to get up, I'd have to check on him.  I would literally sit there I would count how many times his chest rose so that I could make sure he was breathing and then I get in bed and it would start all over again.

And still, I'm not telling anybody this, but then I'm noticing like my sleep is being impacted and my mood and my ability to function during the day is being impacted even more so than if I just had a newborn. And so I talked to a doctor and I talked to a therapist and they're like, yeah, like, you know, you're just anxious, but I still wouldn't tell anybody that I was having those thoughts. Cause I was terrified.

Yeah. Cause it's, I mean, you're like, why are you thinking that? Right. Yeah. Like, right? Like, I guess the worry would be like, are you thinking it because you actually want to harm your child? Or, you know, like it's, I could see why it.

Totally.

Tangled.  

Totally. And I knew for sure that it wasn't because I wanted that, but I didn't know how to communicate it to somebody else, but I didn't want that. And so I was just saying like, I'm having a hard time sleeping. I'm having a hard time sleeping. I'm really anxious. And so like, they gave me medication, and I was seeing a therapist, but like, it wasn't getting better. The intrusive thoughts went away, but the anxiety never went away. And I think the intrusive thoughts went away because of the medication. Not because I had worked something out, but then I found out I was pregnant with my daughter.

Oh, wow. So you were still having these, this whole thing, and then you got pregnant again. Wow. Okay.

Yeah. And then what's interesting is when I got pregnant with my daughter, it was unexpected. And we went to, or I went to my first OB appointment and the OB was like, you have to get off of your medication right now. Like immediately you cannot be on this medication. And I was like, wow, that's intense. You know, but like I better get off of it. And it turns out the medication I was on would not have impacted my pregnancy. So it wasn't, it was not the right reaction for her to have, but I didn't experience any of that intrusive thought stuff when I was pregnant again, off my medication.

But when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband almost died. He was in a race where he got this condition called rhabdomyolysis and he was in the hospital and it was crazy. And I felt that anxiety, but again, like no intrusive thoughts.

So I was like, okay, this is normal anxiety too. But like my doctors, again, like weren't hearing me, weren't hearing me. But at this point I had done some training on perinatal mental health. And like I had learned about postpartum anxiety and I was starting to get some more information. So I was starting to understand what I could start advocating for a little bit more, which was helpful. Not thinking that I was crazy, but still not telling anybody what's going on in my brain yet. And when I had her, it was the first week of the pandemic.

Oh boy. So did have a lot going on. Yeah. Yeah. And so that sort of like was a lot, obviously now I have two kids we're in the middle of a pandemic. We don't know what's going to happen. And then I started to have the thoughts again, about a month in, I started having the same exact intrusive thought of now my daughter falling in a pool and drowning.

And I was like, okay, this is definitely related to whatever hormonal changes have happened in my body in terms of carrying a baby and giving birth and all of that. And so I was able to find like a therapist that understood a little bit more. I had some more knowledge on it. I started listening to podcasts and books and doing research. And I found a psychiatrist that was really helpful, who prescribed me the right medications. And all of that was like good for probably like 10 months. Um, and then when I weaned off breastfeeding, even though I was still on my medications and everything, I actually got the intrusive thoughts again.

Oh, wow. So it's definitely, for me it was something very hormonal because it got better after I stopped breastfeeding and I didn't breastfeed with my son. I should mention that. Um, but still like the anxiety was there, just wasn't those intrusive visualizations anymore.

And it really came down to, aside from the intrusive thoughts and the whole like ritual that I had sort of created for myself to manage. That was that like I was anxious because I felt like I was the only person that could take care of my kids. And even if they left them with my husband or my in-laws or my mom, all people who I trust, I couldn't stop thinking about something bad was going to happen to them. And my husband would like put them in the car and take them for a drive and I'd be like, okay, well you need to text me when you get to this place and you need to text me when you get to this place.

I need to know that you got there safely. And so all of those are sort of these manifestations of this anxiety. That again, I had anxiety before, but not to this extent.

So a lot of this has just been like noticing the things that are triggering me. Right. And of course all of these things are around death. So clearly I have some issues around death. Right. And so, you know, that's the kind of stuff that I had to process in therapy. And I think the hardest part in terms of new moms is that like, I of course have tons of training in this, so I can identify this stuff pretty quickly because I've done a lot of it in practice. Right.

A lot of new moms are sitting there in these super anxious thoughts, which are so overwhelming and they don't have the ability yet. They haven't learned the skills yet to like, sort of tease out like what is going on in my brain right now?

I mean, I can't even, I can't even imagine because I mean, I had anxiety, I think I was probably a step below, you know, like I didn't have any intrusive thoughts, but I definitely had anxiety of other people taking care of my child and things like that I had to work through, but I have so many questions. Okay. So first off, do you feel that just being anxious or having anxiety pre could put somebody more at risk for having this postpartum anxiety?

Yeah. So with most, you know, mental health issues, there's always like precipitating factors. So any, anything that's happened before having a baby, whether you had depression, anxiety, trauma, all of those are gonna automatically put you in the category that you could potentially have those. It doesn't mean that you will. It doesn't mean if you didn't have those things before you won't, but it's definitely a higher chance. And if you have postpartum anxiety or depression with your first, you have a higher likelihood of having it again, if you have more than one child.

Okay. And, and for you, you know, you had this anxiety around death, it sounds like, and your postpartum anxiety was also kind around that death again. So kind of working through that was important for you. Yeah. Okay. And then I guess my other question is, as I'm listening and knowing that you're also a therapist and knowing all these steps, you kind of took that was not  that helpful. Yes. It increased. I mean, it just sounds like it wasn't that helpful. Um, what, knowing what you know now and you treating other people who have this, what would you recommend for somebody as a treatment?

Yeah. Well, as a treatment or like something they can do at home,.

I guess anything that would be helpful.

So like, in terms of treatment, I am a big advocate. Like find people who specialize in it, because those are the people that are not going to overreact to the thoughts that you have. Right. So most people, I won't say all, but I would say a big percentage of people in the perinatal mental health realm have had their own experience one way or another and are really passionate about making sure that moms or expecting parents feel supported.

So these are safe people to tell those intrusive thoughts too. Yeah. But you're saying,.

Yeah. And the big difference in the training piece is that intrusive thoughts are disturbing. That's why they're intrusive. And you know that you don't want that to happen. That's different than a psychosis where you're hallucinating or delusional. Right. Like that is a different category and we're trained to know the difference.

Okay.

So it's definitely important to talk about it. It's so scary to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. But the more that we talk about these things, the less stigmatized they are. Right. So telling your partner, like I, even, if you can't verbalize the thoughts that you're having, because it's too scary saying like I'm scared because I'm having these really intense thoughts and I don't know what to do. Right. And some of the thoughts don't have to be as severe as mine where, um, one, a very popular one is like, when you're walking down the stairs and you're like, what if the baby flies out of my arms, that's a really popular one that happens.

So yeah. Talking about it, and talking to other friends that have kids that maybe haven't talked about it and know what you're going through, are all really helpful.

But it sounds like also finding a therapist that specializes in this to talk to you as well. Okay.

And postpartum support international, um, their website is postpartum.net. They have so many resources that are free and available to, so if you don't know where to go or you don't know what to do, that's a great place to start.

Oh, that's wonderful. So that's great. And they have therapists as well on there?

They have a directory. So all of us that specialize in it are listed in the directory. Great. So you can go on there and look for somebody, but they also have support groups for different stages. They have support groups for moms, support groups, for dads, fertility, miscarriages, and our free.

Awesome. That's awesome. So other than talking to therapists, friends, and spouses. Yes. Is there anything else that you've found helpful?

Truthfully? I think the biggest thing is like making space for yourself to sort of getting to know this new version of you. Right. Because so many things have changed. And like I said, like, it really takes a lot of time and effort to understand what it is that you're so afraid of. And so even being able to make space for 10 minutes a day where you just are away from everybody, like the babies with someone safe or sleeping, you're not having to worry about anybody at that moment and just focusing on yourself because that's the first thing to go, right?

Like you have a baby and like nothing in your life matters about you anymore. And so not doing that to yourself and connecting with yourself and getting to know this new version of you, I think is really important. Another thing that I recommend to all moms is there's a book called Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts.

Okay.

It's by Karen Kleinman. It is not an audiobook. It's aanactual physical book, which I'm not a big physical book person.

I know I'm an audio person too. That's yes.

But I will say the selling point for this book is it's short and it's half pictures.

Ooh, yay.

And they're like cartoons. So it's not like a sit down and read and learn book. It's like each page focuses on a different type of thought or feeling or behavior that comes up with new moms that other moms have reported that they struggle with and what to do.

Oh, that's great.

Yeah. It's a great book.

You mentioned like, I think men in this scenario of men support through this, uh, website and things, and I was just thinking, when you said carrying the baby down the stairs and falling, my husband had a huge fear of that. That was constant.  Do men suffer from this as well?

They do.

Wow.

They do. Because the truth is, is like postpartum anxiety. Isn't just hormones. Of course there's an element of that. Right. That would be silly to deny that, but it's also the adjustment and the responsibility. And so for dads, like that's a huge shift and they didn't have the same preparation that the mom had. Right. Most of the time, not all the time, but most of the time, like the mom is the one going to the doctor's appointments and they're the ones like preparing their mind and my body for what's going to happen.

And the men don't tend to be in that same position because they don't have to be. Right. And so unless they're making that conscious decision to really go through pregnancy the same way their journey starts the day the baby's there. And so there's a lot of anxiety there and they don't get a lot of training. You know, moms don't either, but you know, a lot, like I know my husband's dad, he didn't change diapers. Cause that wasn't a thing when my husband was born.

Right.

Yeah. A lot of men didn't back when, like I think of my parents, right. Maybe my dad did. I don't remember.

My husband sort of had to like learn from me or learn from his mom and couldn't ask his dad because his dad didn't know, you know? And so there, there's definitely gaps in the preparation for men to become dads and adjust to that level of responsibility.

And I think there's also, you know, the mom is a lot of times breastfeeding or feeding. They're the one that's getting up. There's less for them to even do, to know where their place really initially? I think it takes a little time.

Totally. And yeah, like I think in terms of, because men can also experience postpartum depression, right? Like wow. Adjusting to their new identity that, you know, their relationship with their wife is different and their family life is different and their freedom is different. Like there's so many things that shift one to bring that baby home and you leave like the safety net of the hospital.

So I I'm thinking about, you know, follow-ups and things like that are there, Are there screens for the doctor's office. When you go for your checkups, after having a birth or that they're looking at depression and anxiety, are they doing those checklists or anything in the hospital or up appointments?

Oh, this is a hot topic that I have feelings about. Um, so the current screening that is available, evidence-based that whole thing is for postpartum depression only. Um, and yes, doctors, pediatricians OBS primary doctors. Like if you've had a baby within a year, they give you it's called the, like the Edenberg postnatal depression screening.

That's for depression though. Is that correct?

Yeah. There isn't one for anxiety and I would be shocked if doctors actually read those.

Okay. Oh, so the patient fills it out. The doctor does not ask the questions. The patients are just filling them out. Is that correct?

Yes you typically get it in your like packet that you get when you're waiting for the doctor, you know? Um, I know like we have Kaiser insurance, so every time we go there, they have a screening for us to fill out, like in terms of like development for our kids. And they'll include that for the first year in that packet. And I've never had anybody ask me about it, and I finally filled out 20 of those.

Okay. And, are you putting numbers down that should show that you're depressed or anxious?

Also a good question. Um, one, obviously I know how to fill out these questionnaires too. Like they're very leading, for lack of a better word. So like if it says like, do you have thoughts of harming your baby as somebody does, and they're too afraid to tell anybody they're gonna put no.

Oh, right.

So if doctors were really doing their due diligence around these, they would have them fill them out, and then they would talk about them whether or not they scored high.

So let me ask you this. Since you have gone through this yourself, and you have clients that you work with, um, if you can give a doctor one or two questions that they could ask that you would know this person is suffering from anxiety. What would those two questions be?

The first question would be, how are you sleeping? Not how is the baby sleeping, but how are you sleeping? Because typically, when you ask that question, moms will say, oh, you know, like fine, the baby's up, you know? And then kind of reframing it. Like, no, I know I'm asking how you're sleeping. That would be one of them.

The baby was asleep. How are you sleeping? Are you sleeping? Okay.

Yes. That would be one question. The other question would be, are you afraid something bad is going to happen to your baby?

Hmm. That's a good one. Yeah,.

Because again, like these are easy questions on a piece of paper you could say yes or no. Right. And probably typically somebody would say no, but if you ask the question, you could see how the person reacts so you could see how they would respond, and you can ask more questions so that they feel comfortable. I think we all feel, I am speaking for everybody on the planet, so sorry. But we all feel like we're bothering doctors, you know? And the truth is, they get paid to give these questionnaires.

They get paid more. You fill out the questionnaire.

Yeah. Well, and I love that. You said, are you afraid something bad is going to happen? Because that's different than saying, do you want to, you know, are you, you're afraid you're going to harm your baby or whatever that question was more like, you're going to harm your baby, right? This is like, are you afraid of them being harmed? And that seems more like someone would then say a yes to, without having all that fear that they were doing something wrong.

Yes. And I should mention, that I typically mentioned this in the beginning when someone asks me this and I forgot, but just for some perspective, in terms of like the questions that doctors ask postpartum anxiety is not an official diagnosis in the medical world. Postpartum depression is so that's why they're not screening for it. But I, I'm not sure when postpartum depression entered the DSM, I'm not sure on the date, but I want to say that it wasn't in the DSM four. If it was a definitely wasn't in the DSM three.

So like, we're just not there yet in terms of like progressiveness. And it really does take enough people talking about it.

Right. We don't.

Talk about it. We don't know that it exists. And so the louder we are, the more we talk about it, the more we demand that people acknowledge it, then it starts to enter into the existence.

And then eventually can become a code. And doctors may then look at it closer. Let's face facts. I think we're all doing a good job taking care of babies. Right? You bring your baby to the doctor. They're looked at, they got their shots. They, you know, they're looking at everything there, you know, and the mom just kind of comes along. They're exhausted. They're hardly seen honestly. Right. They're looking at the baby. Even when people visit you, you're hardly seen. I mean, it's all about the baby. Yeah. In an ideal postpartum wellness center. Like if we just created one, isn't this fun because you never know who's listening.

They could create these. What would you put in it for the mom.

Question number one, I would put in a feeding group, talked about the normalcy of not being able to breastfeed and it's okay to give your baby formula and you need to do what's best for you. And just because somebody else's breastfeeding doesn't mean you have to just because your mom tells you that she did it doesn't mean you have to, um, and creating that safe space for people to process that I think honestly would solve a lot of problems.

Yes, yes. I see this clientele a lot. Um, parents  struggling with breastfeeding and, and feeling horrible and guilty and like failures, honestly, that they cannot breastfeed. And I mean, there are generations that were just formula fed really. Um, you know, so whatever works, but yeah, they are struggling. So I love that. I love that.

So that's definitely like one of the first things, I think another one would be like a, mom's only 30 minute group where like, you talk about how to incorporate different, like self-care activities into your day. And the reason why I say moms only is because, you know, typically we are a very accepting society in terms of bringing newborns places. And I think it's great. And I want to, like, I am totally for that. I always let moms bring their kids into sessions because it's better to do that than to stress out.

But if you start from the beginning and learning to take that time away, it makes it so much easier when you're by yourself.

Oh, the feeling of just being alone as a new mom can be amazing. I'll never forget. When I went back to work, I went back pretty early and I was like, oh my God, I can have lunch. I was so sad to leave my kid at daycare, but I was like, there's lunch involved. Right. Sit. And they can eat with utensils.

Yeah.

Yes. I love that too. I'm so coming to this, by the way, I might even have it. I might even have one more kid just to come.

But I do have one last thing I would add. Yeah. It would be a sensory room.

A sensory room for….

The moms. Because another thing we don't talk a lot about is like sensory overload. So like being out touched or sounds, or tastes or smells like all those things are heightened after you have a baby and can be really overwhelming. So being able to either have a room where there's sort of like that sensory deprivation piece where like you could just not be touched for five minutes, not have to listen to anybody screaming for five minutes, not smell poop or old milk for five minutes.

All of those things.

Yeah. I think my sensory room was my shower. Yeah. But that's great that and add a little coffee and lunch. 

Yeah. Mandatory.

That's great. Those are, first of all, those are all amazing ideas. So I hope, I hope you do that.

I hope someone steals my ideas.

Yeah. So we're putting it out there for anyone to steal and then please let Real Life Momz know so we can post it and all the moms can go. Yeah. Yeah. That would be great. I know you mentioned some resources. I'd love that postpartum.net and that book, the Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts. Are there any other really great resources for any parents that are currently struggling with postpartum anxiety and maybe don't even know that they are.

Yeah, totally. So there's another book. Well, there's two books that are pretty popular, but one is called the fourth trimester and that's just sort of about like the difficulty in adjusting to that postpartum transition. And then the other one is also a Karen Kleinman book. This Isn't What I Expected. And that is definitely around like that whole postpartum mental health piece. I also, my podcast is sort of dedicated to that. Um, yeah, it is to, you know, have open conversations about postpartum life, but also for moms to hear what resources are available, what's normal versus what's not normal in their postpartum experience in hear other moms stories.

Ah, yes. So your podcast is called the New Mama Mentors. Is that right?

Yes.

And where can we find that.

On any podcast streaming network.

Perfect. And then do you also have a website?

I do. So my website is RIHcounseling.com and I'm also on Instagram at the New Mama Mentor. I posted a lot of resources on there too. So what.

Would you like moms to know?

Well, I think the standard, we tend to all say this in the maternal mental health world is that they're not alone. No, there's other people out there that have been through it that wants help. And all of that. I think the other piece is that like none of us know what we're doing. It's so like.

True. So true. I have my hand raised really high.

Okay. You know, like we don't know what we're doing. We're all sort of, you know, putting the cart before the horse and hoping that it works out in, you know, it's okay to fail. It's okay to make mistakes. And as long as you're learning from them.

Yeah. And I don't even think of it as failing as much as like you're learning, you know, they're, they're learning and you're learning, you know, I always say to my, uh, my teen, I think I, I say to her, you know, this is my first time being a teen mom. Yes. I've been a mom for 16 years, but this is my first teen experience. And so I'm always learning and I'm always sorry, you're the first child, you know, the site will need to be, maybe we'll do a little bit better, but let's face facts. There are different.

They're never going to do the same thing. The first one did anyway. So we're always learning. So I think as much as failure, it's just trial and error.

I love that. I love that because it's, you know, it's true. Like you, you don't know, you know, you haven't done it before. And I think we, at least as our kids get older, for sure, we try to make everything fair, but that's not true either.

No. Yeah. It's definitely not true. And I, and I remember personally, like when my kids were younger, because I think I was a pediatric physical therapist, I kind of thought like, Hey, I got this, I treat babies all the time. I'm very comfortable with them. Like, this is, this is going to be great. You know, I got it all.  And then and behold, like, you know, babies born in uh, no, wait a minute. I don't give your kid back. 

Like 24 hours. And I was like, wait a minute. I don't know anything, you know? Yes. Maybe a little tummy time. I'm really good at that. But yeah. I don't know anything. It's all learning and yeah, just getting that support, knowing it's okay. You're definitely not alone. And ask the stupid questions. Yeah.

Yes. And I actually, just to point out what you said in terms of, like, you thought that you knew what you were doing because of your career. Like that was probably the hardest thing to overcome in my own journey is yes. I worked with kids forever. So like, that was an assumption I made as well. But also that, like I thought that I would have been able to prevent myself from having that anxiety, you know? And what did it say about me that I had that anxiety when I'm a therapist, you know?

And so, you know, if people that are listening are in fields like doctors and therapists and pediatricians and physical therapists and occupational therapists, like just because it's your job, does it mean that you can't experience these things too.

Right? Yeah. That's a really good point. What has been just your overall favorite moms resource?

Ooh, good question. Ooh, I'm trying to think because the Good Mom Has Scary Thoughts is a number one that I literally suggest to everybody. I think for me, what has been the most helpful is honestly earplugs.

Okay. Just to kind of have a quiet place.

Yeah. Because when you think about the overstimulation piece, it can be overwhelming. And like, we didn't even touch on rage, but like that's a whole other piece of this. And I have found that my favorite earplugs are loop ear plugs, but they don't drown out all the noise. So you could still hear everything. It's not like you're ignoring your kids, but it doesn't give you that like painful sensation in your brain when they're like screaming and you feel like you can't hear anything or think straight, they really help with that.

Wow. Okay. That's great. I have not. I asked this question quite often, um, just to get other mom's opinion. I have not gotten that one. So I love that.

Yes. And they were given to me by one of my friends, that's a mom that had a baby shortly before I did and that's hurt tip. And so she sort of passed that on to me. So now I pass it on.

Great. Yeah. Okay. So ear plugs. I love it. I love it. And it's so real. I love that. Uh, well thank you for coming on the show and sharing your knowledge about postpartum anxiety and your, and your own story as well. And just making sure that other people have more awareness about postpartum anxiety. And like I said, I had never heard about it before. Yeah.

Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. I loved this.

Thank you for listening to today's episode. I'm so glad that Allison can bring awareness to postpartum anxiety and has dedicated her practice and helping new parents. Allison shared so many incredible resources. So if you are struggling with postpartum anxiety, please visit postpartum.net. So you can find a therapist, a support group or a resource that would benefit you. And don't forget, let's keep these conversations going, talking with other parents, your doctor, or join us on our Real Life Momz, Facebook group. So we can bond together.

 

Allison Lieberman

Mom/Host/Co-founder

Allison Lieberman is a licensed marriage and family therapist, postpartum anxiety expert, mom of 2, and 2x postpartum anxiety survivor. She is the co-founder of Rooted in Harmony Counseling, a California-based group therapy practice dedicated to helping moms with anxiety, relationships, and parenting. She is the host of The New Mama Mentor® Podcast. She is passionate about helping new moms overcome anxiety by developing confidence, shedding the mom guilt, and building a community.