mind by design



maternal mental health image of woman with mood disruption

Dear New moms:
It's Going to be OkaY

     In a perfect world,  maternal mental health would be top of the priority for new parents, healthcare providers and family members. However, new parents have so many new things to adjust now that baby is here. Naturally, this sometimes takes attention and focus away from maternal mental health. 

     Because of this, new parents experience a higher risk of anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Although pregnancy and the birth of a baby can be a joyful time, many new moms experience anxiety and mood changes. For some, these feelings persist and worsen over time, affecting their ability to carry out daily activities and engage with their newborn. In such cases, this may be a sign that they may be experiencing Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs)

Maternal Mental Heatlh

Maternal mental health includes various areas of wellness. More specifically, perinatal and postpartum mental health is concerned with the new parents’ mood stability during and after pregnancy. PMADs are not limited to postpartum depression. Instead, PMAD’s encompasses a range of experiences that can occur during  and after pregnancy. Furthermore, experiencing a perinatal and postpartum mental health struggles is not a reflection of a person’s character or parenting ability. These conditions can affect individuals of all ages, cultures, income levels, and ethnicities.

Beyond "Baby Blues"

maternal mental health mother holding newborns hand

     Maternal mental health commonly focuses on the “baby blues”. This is a period of time (up to one year postpartum) in which the new mother experiences sadness, fatigue, overwhelm and/or mood swings. Up to 80% of new mothers experience baby blues. Because this term, and this experience, is so common, maternal mental health challenges are often dismissed as “baby blues”. When this happens, new parents aren’t met with the care and therapy that they need, including therapy for PMADS. PMADs  are conditions that affect parents and can happen before and after the birth of a baby. These conditions can make it challenging for parents to perform everyday tasks, including caring for themselves and their babies. Furthermore, PMADs symptoms are more severe and disruptive than “baby blues”.

    Additionally, it is important to note that PMADs are not just limited to women and can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. If you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of PMADs and begin to interfere with everyday living, it may be time to seek help.

maternal mental health mother looking anxious

Mood & Anxiety Disorders

PMADs come in different types, including perinatal or postpartum mood disorder, perinatal or postpartum anxiety disorder, perinatal or postpartum psychosis, and perinatal or postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Each type may present different symptoms, and it is essential to understand the differences between them. Pregnancy and parenting are not gender or sex exclusive.

Who Experiences PMADs?

There is no single cause of PMADs, and many factors can contribute to their development. Changes in hormones during and after pregnancy, personal or family history of depression or anxiety, ongoing stressful life events, and a lack of social support are all risk factors for PMADs. Women who experienced a difficult pregnancy, or had a baby treated in the ICU after birth are at the highest risk for developing emotional challenges in the postpartum period.

What does PMAds look like?

Every person’s experience with PMADs is unique, and some parents may begin to feel better within a few weeks, while others may struggle for many months or even years. If left untreated, PMADs can have negative effects on the entire family. Additionally, research shows that depressed and anxious parents may smile, talk, and engage less with their newborns. This, in turn, can cause developmental, sleeping, feeding, and colic challenges for the baby and impact other children or teens in the home. 

Normalize maternal mental health supports:
No Shame In Getting Help

     Treating perinatal mental health is important to prevent long-term negative effects on the family unit. Seeking help from a healthcare or mental health professional is an essential step towards managing and treating these conditions. With proper care and support, individuals experiencing perinatal mental health disorders can recover and regain their quality of life.
     It is essential to get help for PMADs from a trained healthcare or mental health professional. If you or your loved one continues to have difficulty during this time, it may be helpful to contact a mental health professional for additional support.


     If you are experiencing symptoms of PMADs, it is essential that you know that you are not alone. Seeking help is the first step towards recovery.

There is NOTHING to feel ashamed of! With the right support and resources, you can overcome PMADs and enjoy the joys of parenting.

maternal mental health therapist doing tele-therapy session with new mom

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Rebecca Sidoti, LCSW

Rebecca Sidoti, LCSW

Rebecca is the founder of Mind by Design Counseling. She is an expert in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and has a knack for working with high-intensity, driven individuals who are seeking the ever-elusive balance of professional and personal wellness.