Why Your Mental Health Before and After Baby Is So Important

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Women who are pregnant for the first time will likely spend most of their pregnancy learning how to care for their baby. But what about learning how to care for themselves?

There are three words I wish someone had talked to me about while I was pregnant: maternal mental health. Those three words could’ve made an incredible difference in my life when I became a mom.

I wish someone had said, “Your maternal mental health might suffer pre- and post-pregnancy. This is common, and it’s treatable.” No one told me what signs to look for, risk factors, or where to go for professional help.

I was less than prepared when postpartum depression hit me smack in the face the day after I brought my baby home from the hospital. The lack of education I received during pregnancy led me on a scavenger hunt to get the help I needed to get well. 

Had I known what postpartum depression actually was, how many women it affects, and how to treat it, I would’ve felt less shame. I would’ve started treatment sooner. And I could’ve been more present with my son during that first year. 

Here’s what else I wish I knew about mental health before and after my pregnancy.

Check out the article I wrote for Healthline HERE to read about what I wish I knew about maternal mental health before I had my baby. 

Beyond Manicures & Massages: What Self-Care REALLY Means For Moms

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Self-care. It’s a term that’s become part of the mommy zeitgeist to the point where we can’t open our Instagram feeds without being bombarded by memes touting, “Caring for yourself is mandatory” or “Put your oxygen mask on first.” Between us mamas, it’s getting kind of annoying. The first issue is, the current conversation about what self-care means is shallow.

It goes something like this: “Go get a manicure or a quick massage and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to handle motherhood again.” That’s what we’re told. Here’s what we hear: Self-care is as easy as painting my nails and will make me a better mom.

Wait, so, a new coat of nail polish is a mommy miracle that will make us happier about our child having a tantrum in Target? Not buying it.

Issue #2: Making superficial self-care the de-facto norm assumes all moms have access to both the childcare and the cash to spend on it.

They don’t. And now we’ve not only made them feel like they’re bad moms because they don’t do it but we’ve shamed them because they can’t afford it. Not nice.

Third, doing something as superficial as getting her nails done will in no way make a mother suffering from issues like postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression feel better.

It just won’t. Because that kind of self-care doesn’t address or help these moms’ deep emotional needs. In fact, asking some of these mothers to leave their children (or just leave the house in general) in the care of another person, particularly the moms suffering from PPA, can have the opposite effect of self-care; it can actually make their lives worse, not better. No bueno.

Crappy situation all around, right? Pretty much.

Can we make the concept of self-care for moms more personalized and attainable?

We’re not entirely sure but we have some ideas.

For starters, we can stop assuming all moms can use grooming, spa services or gym time as a self-care method. Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice. Doing some cardio or having our feet rubbed feels great and might boost our dopamine levels for a bit. But it isn’t going to solve our bigger issues of maintaining our composure during whining, sibling fighting and making six different meals because none of them are satisfactory to our little food critics. In short, it’s a temporary high.

We need to make self-care more about caring for our souls and less about caring for our appearance.

That means promoting things like venting, empathy and surrounding ourselves with supportive friends, things that will fill up our emotional tanks. We need to position self-care as an internal thing, not just an external thing. And the best news is, we’re primed to do this! Moms were literally MADE for this kind of self-care.

Turns out women are genetically wired to crave community, and we function best when surrounded by those who “get us.” We need a mom tribe to thrive. Encouraging moms to seek other like-minded mamas, either virtually or locally, gives them soul-satisfying, long lasting self-care.

And bonus. It's free!

Lastly, we have to do a better job helping moms identify dangerous mental health issues and provide them with the resources to get better. Self-care for these mamas means getting help, both medically and psychologically, so they can adequately care for their children and not kill themselves. Literally. We know. We’ve actually been there.

Look, we’re not trying to be too critical of today’s self-care narrative. We’re just saying it could use some tweaking.

At its core, self-care is a mommy time out for our insides as much as for our outsides.

We happen to think the former is more effective than the latter. The bottom line is moms today have it rough. And sometimes sloughing off our callouses during a pedicure helps. But for most of us, it’s not really enough.

You feel us? Good. Because we gotta go FaceTime our BFF about our kid smearing poop on his wall. She’ll totally get it.

Written by Brooke Christian and Jen Schwartz for Today's Parenting Team.

#MyDream - MOTHERHOOD | UNDERSTOOD for Mogul, Inc.

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My dream is that with motherhood comes only empathy and connection, not judgment and shame. My dream is that all moms feel empowered to ask for help, receive it and realize that doing so doesn't make them failures. My dream is that all moms realize that taking care of themselves and their needs isn't selfish, but necessary. My dream is that all moms feel safe enough to be honest about their lives, even the scary parts. My dream is that all moms have access to affordable care for mental health issues such as postpartum depression and anxiety. My dream is that no mom ever feels alone as she struggles. My dream is that all moms recognize motherhood is not one-size-fits-all and no two journeys are the same. My dream is that all moms support each other's choices and embrace each other's differenes. My dream is that all moms lift one another up because they understand that we are all in this together.

21 Questions with Boss Mom Michelle Dempsey, (Like the 50 Cent song, Only More Empowering)

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Meet Michelle Dempsey, my new woman and mompreneur crush. She is the founder of Very-Well Written, where she helps businesses with content and brand marketing. You can also find her wisdom all over the Internet at top sites such as Mind Body Green, Elite Daily, Huffpost, Forbes and Scary Mommy. When she’s not hustling at work, she can be found doing mom things with her adorable two-and-a-half year old daughter, coffee in hand. And during those child-free moments, cardio, binge-watching Netflix, and more coffee keep her sane.

We connected over our shared desire to use our big voices to help women find theirs, to empower them to own their struggles and live their passions, our well-developed ability to say no to people and things that don’t serve us, and the mom struggle that is indeed, very real.

1. Describe yourself in five words.

Dynamic, creative, sincere, inspirational, no holds barred

2. The moment that changed my life was

The moment I learned that my intuition was really onto something, and that it was worth trusting. It was one of those moments where everything came into focus, and finally, everything that came before it made perfect sense.

3. I found my voice when

I realized my words had the power to inspire and influence others, and that sharing my truth meant helping others to heal from theirs.

4. I’m empowered because

I’ve learned to say no and mean it. I’ve learned to walk away from what doesn’t serve me without apologizing for it. I’ve learned the power of my intelligence, my kindness, and my womanhood. I’ve learned that you don’t get what you want in life, you get what you are, so if you want great, be better.

5. I empower others because

I am as authentic as I am transparent. I say what everyone else is thinking. I choose risk over comfort. I go after what I want like it’s the last train of the night. I don’t apologize for being who I am yet I always lead with kindness. 

6. Putting yourself first is

Not selfish. At all. Putting yourself first is the single best thing you can learn to do for yourself in this lifetime yet it’s every woman’s biggest challenge. We’re mothers, we’re daughters, we’re friends, we’re wives, hell, some of us are even ex-wives, and the expectation is that we do for everyone else first, right? And then what? We burn out, lose our sense of self and live with regret and resentment. We get divorced, we hate our jobs, we can’t believe we never told that friend how much she hurt us and now can’t stand the sight of her. It took me 30-plus people-pleasing years to learn that there is no shame in advocating for your own needs before anyone else’s. Even as a mom, a really devoted one at that, I know that I can’t pour from an empty cup, and when Mama’s taken care of, everyone else benefits. We’re not taught to put ourselves on a pedestal and I’m not sure why. But what I do know is, once you get to that place where you value, and I mean really and truly value who you are, putting yourself first becomes a ritual as natural, and necessary as breathing. 

7. I take care of myself by

Taking time for myself at some point, even if it’s just a few moments, every single day. Working out helps me focus and regroup, and in the interest of being authentic, it helps me deal with being a semi-anxious workaholic. I sleep when I need to sleep, and when shit hits the fan I shut off my phone and head for a massage. I surround myself only with people who bring happiness and joy to my life, do my best to keep outside drama to a minimum, and breathe deeply through the moments that aren’t so pretty.

8. Best mom win

When my daughter first started school, at a teeny 18-months old, she came home one day with a bite mark on her arm. Her teacher informed me that another little girl in class had bitten her during a typical toddler battle over some toys. When I asked how my daughter retaliated, thinking she likely resorted to hurting this little girl for biting her, I was told that she hugged and kissed her teeny attacker and gave her the toy she wanted to play with. Sounds simple, maybe, but knowing that my daughter reacted with kindness meant more than I could ever put into words. That was the moment I realized I was doing something right.

9. Worst mom fail

Happens every morning when I lose the battle over what’s for breakfast because someone is running late for work and another someone had to be in school five minutes ago.

10. Motherhood is

The single greatest thing that has ever happened to my life. Sound cliché? Then you must not be a mom.

 11. Moms should

Reread question #6. And then stop what they’re doing, look in the mirror, and repeat after me, “Hello, you gorgeous goddess, you’re slaying this whole mom game. I’m so proud of you and damn that ass looks great.” Then try to be easier on yourself. And maybe have a glass of wine.

12. Before I became a mom, I wish someone told me

All of those little things my Mom did that annoyed and drove me crazy would become exactly my way of mothering. And that your child can and will survive even if they drink formula, and that all the things you swore you wouldn’t do as a mom would become exactly the things you do the most as a mom.

13. Women need each other because

No one knows a woman like a woman. Our needs, our struggles, our emotions and feelings. The support of other women, the powerful feeling of knowing that a group of trusted ladies have your back no matter what – that’s a big part of what I live for. As the co-founder of a professional networking group for women, I am always so intent on opening the doors to amazing women who truly understand what it means to help another woman rise. It’s vital. 

14. My last meal would be

At Il Mulino in Miami and would include calamari with extra lemon, spaghetti carbonara, and a Caesar salad. And a gin and tonic, or two. Oh and dessert, but I don’t discriminate. 

15. Three things I can’t live without are

Love, my laptop, and coffee.

 16. My perfect day is

Spent in the company of those I love, with my laptop, and some coffee.

17. The books I swear by are

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” If that doesn’t describe the turn my life has taken, then nothing ever could.

18. When life gives you lemons

Order more calamari.

19. I don’t wait for doors to open, I

Kick them the f*ck down.

20. I want my daughter to know

It is who she is at her core, how she treats others, what her passions are and what drives her, that will truly define her as a woman. Not what she looks like, who she chooses to love, whether or not she’s the most popular girl in her high school class, or if she avoids broccoli in the same way some of us avoid dental visits for the rest of her life.

21. You can find me at

Target, screaming toddler in cart, grande latte in hand, hoping for a BOGO on the Lysol wipes and veggie sticks.

BIO: Michelle Dempsey MS, CPRW is an entrepreneur, internationally published writer and marketing guru, girl gang leader, radio host, and above all things, a mother. Michelle Dempsey turned a passionate hobby into a thriving career. Internationally published and known for her ability to connect with readers on a deeper level, Michelle launched her own business, Michelle Dempsey: Very Well-Written, offering content marketing and consulting services to businesses of all kinds. Michelle partners with all clients in a collaborative process that allows her to write from the point of view of her client, a winning strategy for success. She speaks to female audiences regularly on topics including empowerment, personal development, and business success, and last year, co-founded one of South Florida's fastest growing networking groups for professional women, ProFemmes.

This article originally appeared at Mogul.

Mindfulness is Fucking Awesome - Guest Post by Jennifer Bronsnick

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August 6, 2017 2:47pm EST Florham Park, NJ I am sitting on a reclining chair in my backyard, my black toy poodle Zoe at my feet.  The temperature is a perfect 78 degrees. The sun peaks out from behind the clouds every so often so that I can feel the warmth amidst a light breeze on my skin. Cars drive by with a wooosh and I hear the siren of an ambulance from the next town over. Not too loud that it bothers me, but just loud enough to make me wonder if the person they were headed to is okay. It rained last night and I can smell moist grass mixed with a bit of mildew from the outdoor furniture. I sit and sip my chai tea feeling the warmth from the spices move down my throat creating a nice sensation in my body. Breathing in sync with the swaying trees as the winds moves through the plush green leaves. Feeling grateful for a few more weeks of summer to enjoy.

2:50pm - Enter my 5 year old daughter Savanna wearing a tutu and tap shoes. “Mom! Watch my show!”

Was I annoyed? Maybe I wasn’t thrilled, but I wasn’t angry. I was just moving into a new moment; a moment with my daughter. This happens 1000’s of times each day. We have good moments, bad moments and everything in between. The beauty of mindfulness is that it can give us peace in our minds and hearts because it teaches us not to only strive for good experiences (sipping my tea alone), but to be open to ALL experience (getting interrupted during my quiet time), without labeling them. It’s this labeling that ultimately causes us to suffer. Without the label, an experience just is. It’s an opportunity to know what being alive is all about.

Those THREE minutes of intentional mindfulness were three minutes without thinking and planning.  Without analyzing, judging, striving OR suffering.  Three minutes of being present, noticing, and BEING.  Three minutes that recharged my soul and sparked my creativity.  Those three minutes set the tone for the rest of my day and enabled me to operate from a full cup.

Mindfulness is f*cking awesome. It is also just one piece of our self-care plan.  It only took me 3 minutes to fill my cup because I make self-care and time for myself a priority every day. I get regular pedicures, move my body in a way that brings me joy, connect with friends, have date nights and make time to write, create and binge -watch Netflix.

Mindfulness is accessible to everyone. It is free. It is simple to learn.  It just takes practice and an intention. It’s the best way to put an end to the stress of being a mom and any other challenging situation in your life. Mindfulness lets you off the hook because as long as you are breathing there is another moment for you to apologize, to make it right, or do it over. EVERY activity can be done mindfully.

Mindfulness is not being emotionless and it’s NOT about being peaceful all the time, It’s NOT about escaping your life and it’s NOT a quick fix for your life’s challenges.  Like getting your body in shape, getting your mind in shape takes time and practice.

You might be thinking, “Who has time for this?” Well if you just read the first part of this blog, then YOU do. Just by reading about my mindful experience you were mindful too. You could feel the breeze, the sun, smell the grass and then the interruption. You did it. It wasn’t hard and it didn’t take much time.  It also lowered your cortisol and allowed you to tap into your resourcefulness and healing abilities.

Can you imagine what your life could be like if you made mindful self-care a daily practice?  On World Mindfulness Day, this is my invitation for you. Take 3 minutes every day for the next 2 weeks to be FULLY present in your life.  Tune into each of your senses-Sight, Taste, Touch, Smell and Sound. Notice your breath and bring gratitude for this healing tool that operates without conscious effort. Bring compassion to your experiences and welcome everything that arrives. You can do it.

BIO: Jennifer Bronsnick, MSW, LCSW is passionate about supporting moms to be resilient. As a mother of three daughters under 8 and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety Jennifer knows exactly how challenging motherhood can be. She also knows that there is hope for all of us and with accurate information, support and inspiration that mothers and families can thrive. Jennifer’s years of clinical experience as a social worker and her own personal journey gives her the unique ability to guide other moms on their path to health and wellness. You can also learn more about Jennifer, the services she offers and purchase her books on maternal self-care at www.themindfulfamily.com.