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Parents, Depression in you can harm your child!

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 12:50 AM

First published in a Parenting Blog in the Bright Mountain Blogs :

In a recent article in the New York Times, Perri Klass, MD says it is vital to check up on the parent’s mental health in the first months of a baby’s life. Unlike in most other first world Nations, no specific national strategies, plans, or policies are in place to encourage new mothers to obtain postpartum health care in the United States! In addition, the United States remains one of three countries that don’t mandate paid maternity leave


One of these things is not like the others: Mongolia, Chad, Mali, Cuba and the United States. if you guessed the United States, you’re right—but not for the reason you’d expect. What sets us apart from the others isn’t our economic power or global political clout, but rather our lack of universal paid leave for new mothers, offered by 178 nations around the world, including some of the poorest.

“The U.S. is the only high-income nation not to have paid maternity leave, while almost all middle- and low-income countries offer it, too,” says Jody Heymann, founding director of McGill University’s Institute for Health and Social Policy and author of Raising the Global Floor: Dismantling the Myth That We Can’t Afford Good Working Conditions for Everyone.

Many traditional cultures have new mothers rest for 40 days after giving birth. The new mother and baby are cared for, feed and, in some cases, massaged daily after birth. Special foods are prepared to encourage healing and restoration, as well as good milk.


And even as these cultures develop, they are finding ways of integrating traditional ways into more modern practices. For example some Chinese women are again adopting the policy of confinement after birth. They hire special "confinement ladies" to help them after the baby is born. In certain developed countries, this kind of postpartum care is paid for by the government.


In the United States, new parents can hire postpartum doulas and baby nurses, but at $25.00 to $60.00 an hour, these caregivers are often a premium for most new parents. So women are left largely on their own or with limited family resources for their short recovery period. And often the father is left out of it all together as paternity leave is a very new concept in the American workplace.

Lack of qualified post partum care in combination with lack of maternity leave increases the risks of depression in new parents as before they are physically and emotionally adjusted to the role of being a parent, they are back at work


Mom to Moms Advisor works with Alisa, a Licensed Clinical Social worker and herself a parent, whom has submitted her professional opinion on this very important topic of ensuring new parents take adequate steps to take care of themselves as otherwise, she says, the ones who will suffer the most will be the children.

This is what Alisa has to say:

“Very often people who are depressed don't seek the care they need.” A most important statement made by Dr. William Beardslee, professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in a May 8, 2012 New York Times article. Dr. Beardslee went on to say that “untreated, unrecognized parental depression can lead to negative consequences for kids ranging from poor school performance to increased visits to the emergency room to poorer peer relationships and adolescent depression.”

Strong statements indeed but necessary to educate parents on the consequences of not treating their depression.

Imagine a new born baby, dependent on his primary parent to convey an emotional road map through life. First impressions are so significant as they create the environment for a path of emotional well being or anxiety. We all have times when we feel a little sad or blue and babies are able to withstand short periods of exposure to that. Unfortunately, ongoing exposure to depression can be detrimental in the long run. The New York Times article explains how “children with a depressed parent are themselves more likely to manifest symptoms of depression, research shows, along with other psychiatric problems and behavior issues. They are more likely to make visits to the emergency room and more likely to be injured.”

New parents need more information and guidance on what to look for. The need is growing for more general practitioners and pediatricians to screen for depression and take the initiative to encourage parents to seek help. There is no positive side to being stoic when feeling depressed. You think you can disguise your depression but babies are acutely aware of their care giver's emotional state. A baby needs to feel safe and that is not an easy task for them when a parent is anxious or depressed. Ask your doctor for help if you are experiencing difficulty coping with the pressures that come with caring for a a new born. It is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your baby's future emotional health.


Alisa Hafkin, LCSW



Alisa works with individuals, who are experiencing difficulty with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, work and interpersonal conflicts, all within the context of the conception, pregnancy and the post-partum period. She says how you feel about your self, your life, your relationships and your pursuits can drastically change when trying to conceive, during pregnancy and after delivery.

Alisa's expertise with individuals & couples during their childbearing years developed from over seven years experience as a doula (teacher, guide, caregiver for pre & post partum families). Forming a trusting bond during this vulnerable time period enables Alisa to help people understand and cope with the feelings such as powerlessness while undergoing fertility treatments, anxiety about the future during pregnancy, helplessness when dealing with a newborn and confusion about relationships and roles.

Alisa says many individuals and couples struggle with powerful emotions that emerge during this time in their lives. She says if you feel sad, over whelmed, confused, angry, stuck or afraid, you may need help dealing with this significant change in your life. Together, with Alisa, you CAN uncover your personal resources that will provide you with feelings of competence and insight as you progress through this period in your life.

To book an appointment to have a 'chat' with the lovely Alisa, please e-mail [email protected]. Please give a contact number and a convenient time to return the call.



Alisa earned her Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University. She combines her phychotherapy practice with seven years experience as a doula to create a unique expertise with individuals and couples preparing and/or deaing with pre and post pregnancy issues. Her distinctive practice includes home based therapy sessions when office visists are not feasible. In addition, Alisa works in the creative arena, providing therapy for muscians through The Jazz Foundation of America. Alisa maintains a private practice in Manhattan's Upper West Side.



Categories: Post Natal Depression, Work-Life Balance, Sleep

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