Approximately 4 million babies are born in the US each year. Even when everything is going right, a new mom needs all the support she can get to care for herself and her growing family. Up to 80% of moms experience normal "baby blues” which may last up to two weeks postpartum and includes anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) are the #1 complication in childbirth. A combination of physical, psychosocial and concurrent environmental stressors contribute to its onset. PMADs affect 1 in 7 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers during baby's first year. Sleep deprivation, feeling overwhelmed and anxiety about caring for a newborn may impact a parent’s ability to adjust to their new role.
We know who is at risk, how to screen, how to engage preventive tools and implement reliable treatment methods. All expecting and new parents, especially those at risk, should have access to reliable information and trained professionals while mobilizing personalized multi-channel support networks.
WHO ARE OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS (OTs)?
Occupational therapists (OTs) are licensed health care professionals, often part of interdisciplinary teams, utilizing a client-centered approach to address physical, emotional, psychosocial issues. In maternal health, we address how the body and mind impact function and performance in daily occupations (how people occupy their time) and transitions in life roles.
OTs may also utilize health promotion and preventive models of care with individuals, groups and populations targeting optimal function and quality of life. Occupational therapists (OTs) in perinatal health, have a unique professional holistic lens to the dynamic changes in a woman’s life.
HOW DO OTs HELP DURING PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM?
OTs help translate information into action, which is not always as easy as it sounds.
We help in so many ways directly related to individualized needs due to physical, emotional and psychosocial demands in daily life, especially preparing for the transition to a new life role of caring for an infant while caring for yourself.
Some examples include, but are not limited to:
Promote optimal function and positioning during sleep, breastfeeding and child care activities to prevent pain and repetitive use injuries
Share product recommendations based on individualized needs
Prioritizing daily responsibilities, postpartum recovery and realistically easing back into and achieving goals in your daily life
Help with practical and impactful skills, including time management and asking for and accepting instrumental help
Discuss the impact of social support and explore local resources in your neighborhood
Share relevant information on infant developmental milestones, including sleep, feeding, motor skills, sensory processing and play
Identify and explore and prioritize your roles in daily life and tasks.
Develop your Support Wishlist to help you clarify what you need.
Identify resources to create your virtual and real life village to translate to help that families need and want in the postpartum days.
When should I connect?
During the second or third trimester is ideal to explore options and establish a relationship and plan prior to your upcoming transition of welcoming your new addition. We love connecting with moms during the postpartum days, too!