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Meeting Unmet Needs for New Moms

local professional has rare expertise in postpartum mental health

Missy Jenneman of Genuine Way Family Therapy. (Submitted photo)
Missy Jenneman of Genuine Way Family Therapy. (Submitted photo)

With the unpredictability of the world as a result of a global pandemic, and the potential for that alleged “quarantine baby boom,” comes the increased risk of postpartum depression – something that 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men experience under the umbrella term of “Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.”

Luckily for Chippewa Vallians, we have a rare gem in the mental healthcare industry: Missy Jenneman a licensed clinical social worker who is the only therapist within an 85-mile radius of Eau Claire to have the Perinatal Mental Health Certification, issued by the Postpartum Support International after a series of rigorous trainings and a daunting national certification exam.

“After my personal experience with maternal mental health, I realized there was a huge gap in services to new moms,” Jenneman said, “so I sought out the necessary training and requirements for certification to help new moms in the Eau Claire area.”

Chippewa Valley Family: What are some of the warning signs that you might have postpartum depression?

Missy Jenneman: “Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders” is the umbrella term to describe an array of issues one can face from the time of conception through the child’s first year of life. Postpartum depression is characterized by inability to feel joy, feeling overwhelmed, feeling inadequate as a mom, racing thoughts, irritability, intrusive thoughts, and a major warning sign is when the symptoms do not get better in the weeks after birth. “Baby blues” occur in up to 80% of women but will spike around days three to five postpartum and then gradually improve. If symptoms are worsening, it is time to seek help.

Sometimes people say things with good intentions but they are actually quite harmful. For example, (saying) “Oh, you’ll never sleep again” in a joking manner to a mom who is feeling miserable and exhausted is unhelpful.

How can friends and family support parents with postpartum depression?
Friends and family can support parents by recognizing symptoms, normalizing symptoms and the need for help, and physically helping. People tend to be very great at supporting the new baby but forget about the new mom. People want to visit and hold the new baby, but what the new mom needs is to hold her baby while others cook or clean or grocery shop for mom. If someone cannot physically help, lending a non-judgmental ear and validating experiences is incredibly empowering. Letting someone know they are not alone and that things can get better. Sometimes people say things with good intentions but they are actually quite harmful. For example, (saying) “Oh, you’ll never sleep again” in a joking manner to a mom who is feeling miserable and exhausted is unhelpful.

What are some ways moms can find extra support?
Postpartum Support International has an array of services on their website, lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, night nanny, (and) being open and honest with medical providers and seeking therapy when needed.

What does a therapy appointment for postpartum depression look like? What should people expect?
People can expect to be accepted however they are and to feel validated with their emotions and concerns. They can expect a thorough intake of gathering information from conception up through the present time including psychosocial stressors, support systems, and any other contributing factors. After gathering information, there is psychoeducation so they can understand what is going on with their body, learning new ways of thinking or restructuring thoughts to be less harmful, and establishing goals to determine if we are being successful in sessions.

What are some of your top recommendations for parents struggling with postpartum depression?
It gets better with help and you do not have to suffer alone. You deserve to enjoy motherhood, and your baby deserves a happy mom.


Missy Jenneman, LCSW, PMH-C, is on the staff of Genuine Way Family Therapy in Eau Claire (genuinewayfamilytherapy.com).

 


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