Best Advice Ever- Motherhood 100th Episode!

 

When I was approached by Web Talk Radio, over two years ago, and asked to do a web radio show for them on parenting and motherhood, I was surprised, to say the least! Why me? I had no idea how to host a radio show! How on earth would I make time for a weekly radio program? Would anyone even listen? Would I be able to help more people this way? Was this something I should actually do?

After much thought, family discussion, and humbling prayer, the answer was clear: Yes. This is something you need to do. Looking back, I’m so grateful they saw some spark of potential and reached out and trained me, because even though I’ve since taken the show out on my own, WebTalkRadio started me on this path I would have never otherwise taken, and now “Motherhood” radio/TV is celebrating its 100th episode!

 

Motherhood Radio/TV–100th Episode!

It’s been hard work, with a steep learning curve, but I have loved every minute of it. I love coming up with topics based on what you tell me you need to hear. I love meeting incredible, enlightening guests who have so much to teach me and our listeners. I especially love the listeners, who share their experiences with me–what they’re learning and how they’re growing. It warms me to the core to know these shows are making a difference in mother’s lives around the globe!

Today, in honor of our 100th episode, titled “Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever,” I’d like to share some words of wisdom from a few favorite past guests who were gracious enough to write or record their “best advice ever” to be part of this historic episode, and a couple of my own bits of favorite advice, too.

Of course, I hope you actually watch or listen to the 100th episode (see links below), but in the meantime, here’s some of our best advice ever on how to “master” motherhood, parenthood, and basically–life.

 

 

Mastering Motherhood: Best Advice Ever

When I asked past “Motherhood” guests to submit their “best advice ever” about mastering motherhood, I began with the questions I’ve been asking countless moms across the nation these past months as I’ve been touring to research for my new book, Mastery of MotherhoodThe question is: Do you think “mastery of motherhood” is possible? If so, why? If not, why not Additionally, I asked our guest experts to chime in on, “If so, how?”

The following 20 tips are some of my favorite lines from their wise words, the fulness of which you can watch/listen to on our 100th episode, here, on iTunes, above, or below.

(Oh, and be sure to visit MasteryOfMotherhood.com to take my “Mastery of Motherhood” Survey and chime in with your thoughts and best advice! You may even be featured in my book!) 

 

1. “The fruit of motherhood isn’t how your kids turn out. It’s how you turn out.”

This is some of the best advice I’ve ever heard and learned, and now I share it with you. Let go of the idea that your children (and how they act, turn out, etc) determine your worth. It’s simply not true, and you won’t “master motherhood” until you begin to believe it.

 

2. “Let go of the need to be ‘someone’ or ‘something,’ and just be.”

My second bit of advice, to follow up the first:It’s okay. You can take the mask off and just be real. Be real on Instagram. Be real with your friends. Be real in your PJ’s, with a messy house, feeling like you’re losing it, or watching a movie with your kids instead of cleaning that messy house because you’re not going to let yourself lose it. After all, that’s the best thing you can be–for yourself, and for your children–authentic, real, you. (It’s also the first step to “choosing to grow!”) (Watch the 100th episode video to see some of my ‘realness!’)

 

3. “Progress over perfection.” ~Tenielle Shenae, speaker, coach, mentor, self-worth advocate

Tenielle’s advice is time-tested and true, and is a perfect follow up to the 2 statements above. It’s not about being “perfect” as a mom, parent, or human. It’s about progressing, one foot in front of the other, line upon line.

 

4. “Give yourself credit for what you do. Be confident, value yourself and your gifts you bring to your role as mother.” ~Sharon Martin, LCSW, licensed therapist and counselor

 

5. “Make time and listen, listen, listen.” ~Signe Whitson, author of 8 Keys to End Bullying & the Activity Book for Kids and Teens

 

6. “As you listen to your kids, they will tell you what they need. Sometimes that means listening with your ears. Sometimes that means listening with your heart.” ~Lindsay Hibbert Elmer, (my sister-in-law!), mom of 3 plus one beautiful foster baby

 

7. “Take care of you FIRST.” ~Kathy Kaehler, fitness and better living expert, host of LA Talk Radio’s “Cat & Kaehler” show

So important! We think we must care for our kids first, our partnership/marriage/relationship second, but we are wrong. Putting yourself first isn’t saying, “Me first!!” It’s saying, “Me too.” We moms MUST recognize that we have to be healthy and happy and whole in order to give these important things, including our love, to our children, spouse/partner, and family.

 

8. “#SpeakTheSecret.” ~Karen Kleiman, perinatal mental health pioneer and author of many books including “The Art of Holding in Therapy”

Karen’s powerful #SpeakTheSecret campaign reminds us that, as moms, we will have our hard times, too. We will have scary thoughts. We will have unwanted feelings. And we can and must “speak the secret” and reach out for help. Karen also reminds us that, if we do so, we will eventually be well. Speak your secret, whatever it may be. It is only in speaking up that we begin to overcome our struggle, become our best self, and yes, even flourish, again, too.

Created by Karen Kleiman and Molly McIntyre as part of the #speakthesecret campaign. Share your thoughts and join the campaign at postpartumstress.com.

 

9. “Begin planning early on.” ~Valerie Lynn, author of The Mommy Plan

Yes! Valerie is speaking of postpartum recovery, which is not only physical, but definitely emotional, mental, spiritual, and social healing, as well. The earlier we plan, the better off we will be, especially if we’ve experienced pregnancy or postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, or psychosis before. This great advice also goes for any new phase of motherhood or transitional or challenging time of life.

 

10. “Find small bits of time and fit yourself in.” ~Olivia Baylor, therapist/founder of Life Revisions

I echo this one. Motherhood doesn’t require us to lose ourselves. Instead, we can get creative and pursue our dreams along the way!

 

11. “Time management is really about energy management.” Robyn Pearce, time management expert and author of Getting A Grip on Parenting Time

Just let this one sink in. Then, listen to the 100th episode to hear Robyn’s advice on how to manage your energy. A game changer!

 

12. “How your respond to your child is the key.” ~Michael Mascolo, Ph.D. speaker, coach, author of 8 Keys to Old School Parenting

It’s not about what your child does. It’s how you respond to what s/he does that’s the key. Listen to Michael’s description of how to respond to your child in the best way (“It’s all about MILK,” he says), in the episode. He speaks to the heart of solid parenting with this advice–that parenting is about us learning to be our best so we can respond to our children and teach them our best.

 

13. “Parenting is more about the parent than the child. That’s why it’s called ‘parenting’ and not ‘childing.'” 

Just another favorite piece of parenting advice, which cuts to the core of all these excellent tips and to the core of what we do on Motherhood Radio/TV–that parenting isn’t about changing our children or making them behave. It’s about choosing to “grow” through parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood, instead of just “going” through it so we can give our best to our kids.

 

14. “You can master motherhood, but you can’t master your children. Remember 3 things: teach, love, protect.” ~Becky Squire, mom and Make Mine Happy creator/blogger

I love this advice. Teach your children. Love your children. Protect your children. That is your job as a mom.

 

15. “Identify and love what you’re good at. Love your strengths as a mom and be okay with them.” Nicole Bolden, LSW, doula, therapist and founder of Thriving with Baby

 

16. “What are you doing to take care of you? Pick one thing to implement and start small.” ~Katie Richardson, founder/CEO of Puj, mom, life coach

 

17. “Your body is on your side. Your ‘symptoms’ are communication to you, from you. Trust your body.” ~Sophia Wise One, bodywork and healing practices expert

 

18. “Think of ‘mastery’ in terms of your absolute best effort.” ~Myrna Beth Haskell, writer and editor of Sanctuary Magazine

Amen, Myrna. It’s not about being perfect at motherhood or having all the answers all the time. It’s about giving your best, always. That best will fluctuate from day to day, but whatever your 100% effort is today, just give that.

 

19. “Try your best. If you feel you’ve fallen short, it’s a good learning opportunity for you and your child.~Erin Joyce, Psy.D., psychologist specializing in women’s mental health

Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about–continuing to learn and grow.

 

20. “Don’t try to love them. Just love them.” 

My final piece of advice is a favorite lesson I learned at a conference years ago. So often, we are trying to love our children, spouse/partner, family in the way we think they want or the way we think we want, but it’s just not getting through. If you really want to love your family, then love them. Stop trying and just love them. That, to me, is being a ‘master’ mother.

 

 

BONUS: Want the Best Parenting Advice You’ll Ever Receive? Watch This!

 

 

What’s your “best advice ever” for mastering motherhood, fatherhood, parenthood, or life? Leave a comment and let us know, below!

 

 

For more tips, skills, and tools, listen to Motherhood Radio here, and SUBSCRIBE on SoundCloudiTunes, or YouTube!

New episodes weekly!

Here’s to the next 100!

 

Take my “Mastery of Motherhood” survey and be part of my new book!

Click below to take the 15-20 minute survey, tell me what you think, and share your stories!

 

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & NobleTarget.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

 

 

 

Register, just below, for INSTANT ACCESS to my FREE, 4-part series on “Essential Oils for Emotional Health, Hormones, Family Sleep, & Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood!” And subscribe to my “Motherhood Essentials” newsletter for tips, recipes, and how-to’s on using essential oils for your family’s health and wellness!

 

 

 

Learn more about how you can be part of my NEW “Motherhood Essentials” Leadership Team and work directly with me! Join us as I mentor and teach you how to promote family health, happiness, and wellness through the incredible benefits of essential oils. For more details, click below!

 

Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

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Click here for access.

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The Benefits of Postpartum Depression

Yes, you read that title right.

I have long been an advocate for postpartum depression awareness, understanding, and education. I’ve helped hundreds of mothers and families heal through warmline support, support groups, education, and therapy. I’ve written articles about postpartum depression treatment, about the spectrum of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, about postpartum OCD, the stigma of postpartum psychosis, and produced an internationally-sold DVD, Postpartum Couples (now free online, click here). I’ve even shared my own experiences with postpartum depression and anxiety, including my biggest struggles and what I believe others most need to know.

But today, I want to take a different approach to this topic that’s so near and dear to my heart. Today, I wish to focus on the benefits of PPD.

 

After baby #3, happy in the hospital. PPD & anxiety set in just days later.

 

PPD is HARD.

If you’re in the thick of postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or psychosis, you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my mind. How could there be benefits to this thing that intrudes into your life in the very moment you most want to be at your best, that attacks your identity, sense of self-worth, and the ability to connect and bond with your baby, partner, and family?

If you’re mid-way through the healing process, you might feel some of these benefits, or you might not—yet.

If you’ve made it safely to the other side of PPD, you’ve hopefully experienced some of these benefits and understand first hand what I’m talking about, but again, maybe not. Each of us is different, and our experiences are unique.

Wherever you are in your PPD experience, one thing is abundantly clear: just because I’m writing about the benefits of postpartum depression in no way takes away from the pain, suffering, and heartache of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. It in no way takes away from how hard it is to finally find a way to overcome these disorders, to find the right treatment, and to do the work required to heal. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are absolutely among the most difficult of life’s challenges.

Loving my baby girl, but exhausted. This is reality.

 

The PPD Paradox

The paradox is that while postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and psychosis are gut-wrenching experiences for the whole family, they are also some of the most fertile soil for personal growth—if we “plant ourselves and grow.” (As I write in This is How We Grow.)

Yes, PPD is hard. AND, it also yields fruit, gifts for our growth and development. As a psychologist working with postpartum women and a 4-time PPD survivor, I’ve seen it over and again. Just like the “gifts” of grief and loss and heartache and other life challenges, of which I have also personally experienced many, if we look for and see them, the benefits of postpartum depression are plentiful.

 

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

Top 10 Benefits of Postpartum Depression

So, what are they–these gifts? The following is my top 10 list of benefits of postpartum depression. You might have some of your own to add to my list. I hope you do. If nothing else, I hope this gets your mind focused on the belief that perhaps I’m right. Just maybe, postpartum depression can end up bringing benefits that somehow make it all worthwhile.

1) Understanding. Not only do we understand postpartum depression, or anxiety, or whatever it is we’ve gone through after childbirth; we understand similar experiences better, too. Experiences like death and loss and heartache and illness and pain and general life distress become more real and relatable after going through PPD.

2) Compassion and Empathy. This understanding brings greater compassion and empathy, which I’ve long believed to be one of the greatest benefits of going through PPD or any major life challenge. We simply “get it,” because we’ve been through it. That makes us more likely to know how to be there for others, as well, in ways we otherwise couldn’t have done.

3) Humility. When you’ve hit your lowest point, there’s no other way but humility. Humility in admitting something’s wrong. Humility in seeking help. Humility in letting help in. Humility is, ironically, one of the most powerful traits we can develop. It means we are teachable. It means we’re willing to see what needs to change and change it. It means we’re letting go of the ego and achieving personal growth.

4) Character. We’ve all heard how life challenges build character; sometimes we might roll our eyes hearing this, especially while in the midst of those life challenges. But it’s true. We develop newfound strength, fortitude, skills, and abilities through overcoming PPD. This has the potential to make us into someone even greater than before.

5) Self-confidence. Watching ourselves overcome PPD shows us we can do it, and if we can do this, we can do anything. We have the ability to do hard things. PPD can show us just what we’re made of, which in turn can lead us to overcome other life challenges, too. As we strengthen our self-confidence, we’re more likely to speak up when we need something, to ask for help before we get to a breaking point, and to talk to others about PMADs so we can help them do the same. (Watch “How to Speak Up, Ask For, & Receive What You Need,” or listen on Motherhood Radio/TV.)

 

6) Self-worth. Self-confidence is just one aspect of self worth, which is often crushed by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Feeling embarrassed, guilty, self-hateful and worthless are part of these heart-wrenching disorders. I’ve found I almost always need to work on rebuilding self-worth my postpartum clients. However, doing the work of postpartum healing can lead to a deeper sense of self-worth, which can fuel your confidence, belief in, and even love for yourself moving forward. Such an important gift!

7) Charity. When we understand something like postpartum depression and have that newfound compassion, and empathy for others, along with a stronger self-confidence, character and self-worth, we often desire to give back. So many of the best PPD support persons, organizations, treatment providers, and advocates are PPD survivors. We’ve been there. We get it. We want to help others. This help is invaluable, showing others they’re truly not alone and modeling for others that healing is not only possible but we can flourish after PPD, too. (Watch “When the Bough Breaks: The Reality of PPD,” or listen on Motherhood Radio, here.)

 

8) Appreciation and gratitude. Those who have suffered greatly often find a new appreciation, awareness, and gratitude for life. We recognize the good and work to never take for granted when things go well. We feel grateful for ours and our family’s health and wellness, because we know how easily it can be taken away. We express that gratitude more, knowing how important gratitude is to our own, and others,’ healing and happiness. Yes, appreciation and gratitude are keys to flourishing.

8) Joy, hope, and love. Starting off with so many challenges may seem antithetical to hope, joy, and love, but in truth, it is an opportunity for greater abundance of these things. Being without hope or unable to feel joy or love shows us just how valuable these gifts are and just how badly we desire them. Working on feeling these things again can lead us to never take them for granted once they are replenished, and can lead to a greater ability to share these powerful experiences with our family, friends, and others, creating a cycle of joy, hope and love that repeats.

10) Deeper sense of who you truly are. All of these things help us see and feel and experience our true potential. We’ve overcome PPD. We’ve become more of who we’re meant to be, and now, we can use these experiences to flourish! Postpartum depression just might be the thing that leads us to become our best self; it certainly has been for me. PPD has fueled my work and compassion and service and love–for my family and for all others. As we receive all these gifts, these benefits of PPD, we just might find that without PPD we wouldn’t be who, and where, we are today. I know I certainly wouldn’t be.

This is us, Christmas Day, 2016. Hard to believe how far we’ve come–and how far I’ve come, because of the gifts of PPD.

 

What benefits of PPD have you discovered? Do you agree that PPD, as with all other major life experiences, offers gifts? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings, so leave a comment, below!

 

 

 

 

 

Join the FREE “Birth Healing Summit” and listen to my interview, “The Benefits of PPD,”

along with a dozen other remarkable expert interviews on healing after baby–body, mind, and spirit.

Ends soon, so click here to join today!

Watch or listen to my interview on “Motherhood” Radio/TV with Lynn Schulte, creator of the Birth Healing Summit, here, or below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be part of my NEW book, “Mastery of Motherhood” by inviting me to come to you!

In preparation for my newest book, I am heading on tour and taking my “Motherhood” radio/TV show with me!

I’m looking for women’s and/or mom’s groups, conferences, gatherings, clubs–you name it–to invite me to speak, now through Jan 2018. In return, I ask that your group members talk with me about “Mastery of Motherhood”–about the stresses and successes of “being mom,” and what you most need from a Motherhood book, and that you record a radio episode with me, too! Everyone learns. Everyone has a great time. Everyone wins!

Learn more here, or click the icon above!

 

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

Tune in to “Motherhood” Radio & TV!

New episodes weekly!

 

 

 

 

 

Register, just below, for INSTANT ACCESS to my FREE, 4-part series on “Essential Oils for Emotional Health, Hormones, Family Sleep, & Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood!” And subscribe to my “Motherhood Essentials” newsletter for tips, recipes, and how-to’s on using essential oils for your family’s health and wellness!

 

 

 

Learn more about how you can be part of my NEW “Motherhood Essentials” Leadership Team and work directly with me! Join us as I mentor and teach you how to promote family health, happiness, and wellness through the incredible benefits of essential oils. For more details, click below!

 

Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Watch my “Postpartum Couples” DVD FREE, online!

Click here for access.

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  Let’s Connect! 

SUBSCRIBE, above, “Like” me on Facebook Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow, & follow me on TwitterPinterest, & Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

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Mommy Fails & Mother’s Day: 3 Things Every Mom Needs to Hear

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Overcoming Mom Shame: #StopMomShaming Solutions (Mom.Life Q & A)

 

If you’re a mom, you’ve experienced it–unwanted advice, criticism, or shaming about your parenting, choices, or lifestyle that leaves you feeling devastated. Why are we so hard on each other? And why are we so hard on ourselves?

 

Mom.Life Mom-Shaming Survey Results

Mom-shaming is unfortunately an everyday part of today’s world, and the consequences can be heavy.

Recently, the creators of the engaging and popular Mom.Life app conducted a survey of over 225 women on the topic of mom shaming, or unwanted criticism of their choices or appearance, to understand the far reaching effects. Here’s what they found:

  • Nearly 80% percent of the women surveyed report being shamed.
  • 53% say that shaming happens frequently or is rampant.
  • The leading focus of the shaming was feeding choice, followed by parenting style.
  • Other moms are most likely to be shamers (70%).
  • Dads were the least likely to shame moms.

Why are these numbers so high? And why are moms feeling the most shamed by other moms?

 

Understanding Mom-Shaming

You would think other moms would be the most compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. After all, don’t we all “get” how difficult motherhood and parenting can be? Aren’t we all in the thick of hectic schedules, lack of sleep, and worry that we’re just not doing as well as every other mom?

The sad truth is mom-shaming is a rampant problem, and Mom.Life has taken up the charge to do something about it–a cause I heartily support.

I recently sat down with Mom.Life co-founders, Dee Anna McPherson and Charong Chow, to discuss solutions to #StopMomShaming (the title of their campaign), and also did a Q&A in the Mom.Life app (so fun!), both of which I’m happy to be sharing with you. Listen to or watch our entire conversation in this Motherhood Radio or Motherhood TV episode, and read my take on mom-shaming solutions, below.

 

Mom Shame Q & A with Mom.Life and Dr. Christina Hibbert

A short while ago, I was a featured expert for one of Mom.Life‘s incredible live events. These events are geared toward creating a safe, supportive environment in which moms can engage, live, with one another and discuss topics important and relevant to motherhood.

The topic for the event I was part of was #StopMomShaming, and there were excellent questions by app users and incredible feedback that created an enlightening conversation. Below are some of the most helpful questions and answers from this event. My hope is it will get you thinking about mom-shaming, and how you can be part of the solution, too. (Download the Mom.Life app now to follow me and join the #StopMomShaming movement, and leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!)

 

Question 1 (Mom.Life):

What is your take on mom shaming? We recently surveyed our moms, and the results were astounding. About 80% of mom have been shamed, mostly for parenting choices? And most shamers were moms themselves. Could you shed some light into this dynamic?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

It’s awful so many are still feeling shamed on a regular basis, but unfortunately it’s not surprising to me. It’s so easy for us to get stuck in “our way” and then to beleive it’s the “best” or “only” way. This leads to intentional or unintentional shaming about choices, when in reality, it’s CRUCIAL we each do this parenting thing our own way.

No one knows your specific situation. No one knows your specific children. And no one is the expert on your family’s needs but YOU. If we could hold our tongues, see the differences in our situations and what works, and just love one another, we’d all be so much happier and feel so much more loved and supported.

 

Question 2 (Mom.Life):

Love your response and insight! Mom shaming is so hurtful. Why do you think it affects us so much, especially our self-confidence?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

It’s the worst to feel “attacked” at the heart of what matters most to you, and that’s exactly what mom shaming does. We are all just trying to figure this motherhood thing out, and as I said before, we each have our own unique situations. Since we’re all doing this without a map, we don’t KNOW 100% what we’re doing, right? Even if I have 6 kids, I still don’t know what I’m doing with every one of them, because they’re all so unique and what worked for one doesn’t work for others. This makes us vulnerable from the start. When someone criticizes in that vulnerable area, it hits extra hard. It makes us question, “Am I a terrible mother?” when really, the criticism says so much more about the person who gave it. It’s called “projection,” and the things we criticize others for are usually the things WE most need to work on. That’s why they bother us in the first place and we feel the need to criticize.

 

Question 3 (Mom.Life):

So, it’s not really about us, then? I love that. Here’s a question from a mom in the app: It seems like no matter who we are we get mom shamed, I am a young mom (20) and get mom shamed by my own mom…how do I shut this down?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

Being shamed by our own parents/in-laws is the worst, and it’s unfortunately quite common. Often it’s unintentional and just your mother’s way of tell you how “she did it”. Other times, it’s on purpose. I think this comes from insecurity, as all shaming does. If we feel that sense of self-worth, we don’t need to shame others.

Perhaps your mother just doesn’t “get” what you’re trying to do as a mom. Perhaps she is jealous of how you are as a mom. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to just sit and take it. Boundaries are a wonderful tool for this. Boundaries are rules you set up to protect yourself and your family. It’s like a fence you construct and you decide if it’s a picket fence or a tall brick wall. You decide what is and is not okay for you as a mom with others, and then you talk with them about what you’ve decided, and if they’re ok with it, then great. If not, you’ll need to be tough and keep your boundaries nonetheless. You can still love someone and have strong boundaries. In fact, it’s healthy.

Question 4 (Mom.Life):

Any tips on not allowing mom shaming to bother you to begin with?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

I think it all comes down to a strong sense of self-worth, and I’ve learned that we moms struggle with this the very most. I believe there’s a difference between self-esteem (or what we think, feel, how we behave, look, and what others think about us–the “outward” things) and self-worth (who we truly are–the inner truth). I’ve developed a “pyramid of self-worth” to help people work on building this sense of self-worth, to FEEL that self-love and KNOW they’re truly valuable and worthy.

Almost all the issues I see clients for, at their core, have to deal with self-worth, and I started to see this pattern of women especially who’d say, “I know YOU say I’m worthy, and I can tell myself that, but I don’t FEEL it.” It made me wonder, “how to you help someone feel self-worth?” That’s when I developed the pyramid of self-worth, which is made up of 1) self-awareness, 2) self-acceptance, and 3) self-love practices. I write about this in both my books “Who am I without You” and “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” as well as on my YouTube channel!

 

Question 5 (Mom.Life):

Here’s a great question from the community: How do you make sure you’re sharing the love when you bring another baby home? How do you make sure you’re there for your partner and also for your other children?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

I used to worry so much about this when I was pregnant with my second! I’d wonder, “How could I ever love another baby like I love my first?” But you do. And it’s amazing how your love just grows and amplifies with other children and meaningful family relationships–as a mom of 6 I can say this for sure!

What IS truly challenging is making time so everyone feels they’re getting “enough” of you. It’s important to also get some of yourself, too, so I suggest writing down your priorities–what matters most, in order of most important to least. Then, write down how much time you’re willing to give to each thing each week (including work, relationships, the house cleaning, etc). Focus on getting your top three done everyday, and you will never feel like you’re lacking. The house can be messy, especially if it means you played with your toddler and spent time with your spouse. Let go of what’s not as important in favor of what IS.

I love the saying, “Saying no to something is really saying ‘Yes’ to something better.” Write this on your wall if you need to, but remember that a little of your time and attention, especially if it’s full of love, goes a long, long way. One other suggestion for bringing another baby home: Give the older child a “gift” from the new baby. It’s a great way for big bro/sis to start feeling like and love for their new sibling!

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

Question 6 (Mom.Life):

One mom writes: I can’t help but to keep blaming myself for my weight gain. It is my fault and I feel worse because I didn’t “bounce back” like everyone else. Any advice on how I can gain my confidence back and stop blaming myself so much?

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

Self-blame is a tough cycle to live in. It’s so easy to look at others and compare and think, “They are so much better than I am. I stink!” when really we don’t know their struggles, and they’re probably doing the same thing with us about something else. We compare our worst to others’ best, and that’s a vicious cycle. Our sense of self-worth is so tied up in this. If you don’t love yourself or if you can’t practice compassion with yourself–with who you are, your strengths, weakness, the “good, bad, ugly, and exceptional”– of course, you will blame yourself for every perceived “failure.”

The key is to work on building that sense of self-worth, as I mentioned above. Then, you will feel stronger and able to say, “I don’t like that I haven’t lost this weight, but I accept this is where I am right now.” Then, you have the option to change where you are, to improve. And you’ll be coming at it in such a healthier way. As far as weight loss, my newest book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” there’s a whole chapter on Self-worth, and I don’t even discuss setting up a fitness program until Key 7! That’s because, if we really want to set and achieve goals–like the goal to exercise or be healthy–we first need a LOT of mental preparation. We need to change how we view “success” and “failure,” we need to build our self-worth so we’ll stick with it, and we need to learn how to stay motivated. Working on these things is a great start to eventually loving all of who you are and achieving your dreams! (Join my “Exercise to Mental Health” course here!)

 

Question 7 (Mom.Life):

Here’s another good question from a mom: How can I feel less lonely as a new mom? How do I make sure I am my own person and not be known as JJ’s mommy? Is it selfish sometimes to be my own person? I don’t want to only be my son’s mommy.

Answer (Dr. Hibbert):

What a great question! First, let me say this clearly: IT IS NOT SELFISH FOR YOU TO BE YOUR OWN PERSON. I see so many mothers who are empty nesters and can’t even answer what they like to do because they’ve given ALL their time and energy to their children and lost themselves along the way. Our goal as mothers is to raise children who become healthy, productive, independent adults, so we do ourselves AND them no good by not remembering who WE are. In fact, I have seen in my own life and so many others’ the power of being YOU as a mom. As we develop our own talents and gifts and share them with others, we SHOW our children how to do the same. We give them permission to “go for it!” because we’ve done so, too. I took my 11 year old daughter with me to an event where I was speaking and doing a book signing, for parents who had all lost a child. She watched me speak and helped with the book signing and at the end of the day she said, “Wow, mom. You are important. You help so many people. I’m so proud of you!” This has helped her want to do the same. We can’t be selfish if we don’t have a SELF. And trust me, as mothers, we give our children so much more when we let that self shine boldly through!

 

 

Have you ever been shamed? By whom, and about what? Do you feel mom-shaming is a problem? Why or why not? What are the solutions to #StopMomShaming?

Join the conversation below by leaving a comment!

Join my “Exercise to Mental Health” 6-week online course! Visit www.ExercisetoMentalHealth.com for information!

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is here!

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
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Related Posts/Articles:

Exercise for Mental Health: How to Get (& Stay Motivated)

40 Physical & Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Get Mentally & Physically FITT: How to create an exercise program that works

Exercise as a Family to Build Stronger Relationship, Mental & Physical Health

50 Fun Ways to Exercise as a Family

Exercise to Improve Self-Esteem

Exercise for Mental Health: Key 1, Make it Fun!

Meditation for Mental Health, Personal & Spiritual Growth: The Spirit Meditation

Who Am I – in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood? Identity, Full Circle (#PSIBlog Hop 2016)

"Who Am I" in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood?- Identity, Full Circle. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016 #ppd #pregnancy #postpartum #motherhood #identity

“Who am I, now that you are here?” It’s the title of a song I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression, after my first son was born. For me, PPD was about so much more than feeling sad or anxious or depressed. It was about who I thought I’d been, who I was now, and who I would become.

Identity is at the core of becoming a mother. It’s an essential part of this experience, from pre-conception until the end, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that our identity—as individuals, women, and mothers—will ever evolve through our mothering journey.

 

 

Pre-Motherhood Identity
Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. I envisioned my little "Who Am I?" Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood #PSIBlog Hop 2016; www.DrchristinaHibbert.comfamily (“definitely not six kids,” I’d told my mom. Having been the oldest of 6 , I would never be up for that kind of responsibility. Never say never.). I believed I knew myself well, and I could see the kind of mother I would be. I would play with my children, making memories with smiles, showing them the world, staying home full-time and loving it. They would be my life, I would be theirs, and life would be good. How little I understood of what lay ahead–of how this vision would be tested, of how I would be tested, pushed, pulled and often shoved–pruned, uprooted, and planted again, and again.

 

Before that tiny being is laid in our arms, do we have any idea of what will be?

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Loving my baby, but exhausted. This is reality.

Can we comprehend how much love will flood our heart? Do we sense the tiniest hint of the pain and struggle we will endure—physically, yes, but emotionally, even more so? Are we in any way prepared for the journey for which we are unknowingly enlisting–a journey of self-doubt, self-discovery, and self-transformation like no other?

 

 

Pregnancy Identity

The joy and misery of pregnancy hint at what’s coming, but we don’t realize it, do we? All I knew was my body was changing, my sense of attractiveness lost; I had to pee far too often and slept propped on 5 strategically-placed pillows to avoid acid reflux.

With my first and second pregnancies, I had pains no doctor could explain.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

When my first was born, I think I was in shock. You can see a glimpse of it by my mouth as I listen to him cry.

They’d wipe me out for days. Two years later, they could finally tell me what it was–gallstones–and I finally found relief through surgery.

Near the end of my first pregnancy, I couldn’t wait for the baby to finally be out! All we can think of is how uncomfortable, exhausted, and “done” we are. Little do we know what’s just around the bend. A breach delivery should have tipped me off. He came out bottom first, and as I say, “He’s been giving me trouble ever since”—haha! But the trouble was just beginning. And so was the growth.

A growing body and soon-to-be growing family hopefully grow our mind and spirit, too. Pregnancy is the true beginning, the reality, the point of no return when we start to question who we once were, who we are becoming, and who we will be. As our baby grows inside, we hopefully grow internally, too, allowing questions as they naturally arise: “What will this baby be like?” “What will our family be like?” “What will I be like as a mother?” We hope for the best and expect it–at least, the first time. Perhaps in later pregnancies, we still hope for the best, yet we know all too well the challenges we may face once our little one is finally here.

 

 

Postpartum Identity

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood: Full Circle #PSIBlog Hop 2016 www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

With baby #2, I thought I was better, and I was. But I still ended up with postpartum depression. (My 2 year old is being a dinosaur here.)

I had four very different childbirth experiences; you’d think they’d yield four very different postpartum experiences. No such luck: postpartum depression every time.

Identity in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016

Beautiful baby girl was so loved! I only wish the depression and anxiety could have stayed away.

The first time, I penned the words, “Who am I now that you are here?” and put them to music. I’d purposefully dream of my beautiful boy at night, like I used to when I was dating my husband. But I no longer felt like a “me;” instead, I was a perpetual “we.” He was colicky, and I was not sleeping. We moved in with my parents and lived for 3 months on their living room floor because I had no clue what else to do. The first time I left to the store for a pacifier, alone, I felt like I’d broken out of jail.

With my second beautiful boy, I convinced myself I was better. I knew what postpartum depression was. I had my plan and support team. I was ready. My journals betray me, however, with the words “I want to run away. Not forever. Just for a while, so I can feel like me again.”

With the third–a beautiful baby girl–postpartum anxiety was thrown in the mix, just for kicks. And the fourth? That’s a long story. I wrote an entire book about it, but the Cliff Notes version is that after inheriting our two nephews

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

Just weeks after our family went from three to six kids, I posed us for a Christmas card pic. Can you see the fear in my eyes as I pulled myself together to be the mom everyone needed me to be?

when my sister and brother-in law died, giving birth three weeks later, and going from three to six kids, needless to say, this postpartum experience was so much more than depression or anxiety. It was grief and trauma and desperation to help my family heal–to be strong enough to bear it all and to do it well. This postpartum experience was giving it all I had so I could be there for my children ages 11, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 0, even though my world and identity had been ripped to shreds. I was re-building my family, but really, I was re-building myself. “I’ll never fulfill my dream of being an author or speaker. How could I? I have six children! I am not made to handle this like other mothers are.” The things I told myself! Talk about self-doubt; at times, it was more like self-loathing—a sure sign of depression, once more.

Our postpartum experiences are so varied between us, and they also vary within

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

On vacation, in the midst of PPD, after baby #3. I do love this pic, because I felt happy for a little while.

us. Though the common denominator–a periantal mood or anxiety disorder–is there, the manifestation of that denominator is never exactly the same. As we struggle and overcome and heal and move forward, we change. We grow. We become. And we find it’s the challenges we’ve faced—like PPD—that have made us who we are becoming.

 

 

Mom of Young Children, Teens, Young Adults Identity

Currently, I’m in the midst of all three of these mothering phases. With two in

After visiting my sisters' & other family members' gravesites, at the funeral of OJ's grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

After visiting my sisters’ & other family members’ gravesites, at the funeral of OJ’s grandfather, we tried to stay enthusiastic about life even in the midst of so much death.

college, two in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary, I feel like I’m just trying to keep up most of the time. The busyness, the activities, the emotional needs, the school projects! So much to do, so little time, and still, so many opportunities for personal growth.

I have faced non-postpartum depression and anxiety. I have overcome new traumas, losses, and grief. I have experienced so many trials and lows, and yet I have experienced so many joys, and so much love. It’s ironic, isn’t it? The very things that break us down ends up being the stimulus for unfathomable new growth.

As our little ones become not-so-little anymore, our identity changes again, especially as they begin to form their own identities as teenagers and young adults. It’s a new version of postpartum–watching them individuate and leave the nest, and it can pull at our heartstrings, especially when we see them flail or fail. It’s a time of wondering, “Who am I as a mother now—especially if they don’t seem to need me like they once did?”

Questioning brings answers, however, and if we are brave enough to face those answers, we will find our role as a mother isn’t so much fading as shifting once again. The opportunity for a new identity–one of the supporter, advisor, and simply lover of our children presents itself, and we begin to see ourselves evolve as our children do the same. In doing so, we just might find a new sense of freedom we haven’t had since our journey began—knowing our children are their own beings, and we are merely here to support and love them.

 

 

Mothering Identity is Ever-evolving

As mothers, our identity is ever-changing and, if we are willing to continually

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity--especially our marriage and relationships.

Later years are an opportunity to develop new parts of our identity–especially our marriage and relationships.

examine ourselves, will be every evolving in positive, joyful ways. Our postpartum journey continues as we become grandmothers, as we nurture our own daughters and sons through their pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting journeys, as we share the wisdom we wish we’d known, and provide the support we wish we’d had. The gift of these new postpartum experiences is that we get to watch our grandchildren grow without the responsibility of being the parent, without the self-doubt that too often accompanies our own parenting journeys. We get to re-experience life through young, fresh eyes, and hopefully, find the joy we might have missed the first time around simply because we were too busy trying to figure it all out to stop and notice.

 

 

Full circle Back to “Me.”

And so we’ve come full circle. As we grow through motherhood, purposefully

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

Biking along the beach in Belize, with OJ. Gorgeous!

seeking our truest self, pushing, learning, and taking our lessons in stride, we find we come back to the beginning, at the end. That’s what full circle means to me—coming back around to myself, and feeling more “me” than I ever have before.

 

 

What have your mothering identity changes been like? What’s been challenging for you? What lessons have you learned? How have you seen your experiences come “full circle?” Please leave a comment, below, and join the conversation!

 

 

  • If you need immediate help, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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2016 PSI Blog Hop: Invitation: "Full Circle" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Join the 4th annual Postpartum Support International Blog Hop! Read the guidelines here, write your “full circle” story, and then link up, below or here. Help raise awareness, support and hope, in honor of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month!

 

 

Join me at the Postpartum Support International Annual Conference, June 2016 in San Diego, where I’ll be speaking about postpartum identity, self-esteem, and tools for healing!

More information/to register, click here.

 

 

 

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Listen to "Motherhood" with Dr. Christina Hibbert! Each week on WebTalkRadio.net & iTunes! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #radio

 

 

 

 

 

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise“ is here!

“…Enlightening and empowering…” ~Publisher’s Weekly

Order online at Norton.com, AmazonBarnes & Noble, Target.com, or Walmart.com, or visit your local bookseller today!

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
“Choose to grow” with my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

Build true self-worth, confidence, and love with “Who Am I Without You.”
Available now at
TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

Watch my “Postpartum Couples” DVD FREE, online!

Click here for details.

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Join my “This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! 

 

"This is How We Grow" FREE 30-Day Personal Growth Plan! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #personalgrowth #goals

 

 

 

 

Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

"Who Am I" in Pregnancy, Postpartum & Motherhood?- Identity, Full Circle. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #PSIBlog Hop 2016 #ppd #pregnancy #postpartum #motherhood #identity
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Related Posts/Articles:

New Year, New You! Top 6 Strategies for Personal Growth & Change

“This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan–My New Year’s Gift to You!

New Year’s Goal-Setting: 5 Steps for Personal Growth Success

Beyond Resolutions: Discover your New Year’s Vision

What I’ve Learned about Personal Growth from a Decade of New Year’s Themes

 

 

Exercise for Mental Health: Key 1, Make it Fun! (My “8 Keys” book launch at Zion Ponderosa’s Women’s Adventure Retreat!)

Exercise for Mental Health-Key 1, Make it Fun! My %228 Keys%22 Book Launch at Zion Ponderosa Women's Adventure Retreat www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

When it comes to mental health, happiness, and life satisfaction, there’s one common denominator: exercise.

 

The research on exercise and mental health is clear and solid: exercise is like medicine in the treatment of mental issues and disorders. From greater creativity, insight, and spiritual connection, to higher energy, less stress, and better sleep; from calming the anxious mind to relieving the depressed spirit, exercise is key. I’ve long been an advocate of exercise for mental health, but after writing “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise,” I have a new, eye-opened appreciation for the power of physical activity in our lives.

 

Exercise for Mental Health, Happiness & Life Satisfaction!

Exercise for Mental Health at ZionPonderosa Resort!

Rock wall climbing at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort

When many of us think of exercise, however, we think of pain or suffering or misery! Just the other day, while visiting my mother-in-law, I was doing my “P90X, Kenpo X” workout. When she saw me breathing heavy and sweating like crazy, she said, “This is what makes me want to run from exercise. When I see you doing that, it looks so hard, and that’s what makes me feel like I just want to go to the beach and read a book instead.”

 

Now, let me tell you, my mother-in-law is highly active. She’s a wonderful example of keeping moving, no matter your age–playing pickleball almost every morning for several hours! But to her, what I was doing didn’t look like fun at all. And even though it’s not necessarily my idea of “fun” either, it is fun for me to do different activities to keep my body adapting and changing in new and healthy ways, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

 

Hear this: You don’t have to suffer through exercise. You can, and should make it fun for you! Do what you find enjoyable. My husband golfs and plays basketball. My mother-in-law plays pickleball. My sons lift heavy weights. My daughters run on the golf course with the dog, ride bikes, and play tag. I don’t do any of these things regularly, like they do. I do what I like to do–walking, jogging, hiking, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, bike-riding, weight-lifting, core training, and back in the day, I used to enjoy teaching step aerobics! (Yes, I was one of those up there with my leotard and tights calling out, “up, up, down, down, turn step, step kick….)

 

Times change, and so do our interests, but one thing remains the same: exercise can be, and should be fun!

 

 

Fun, Adventure, and Exercise for Mental Health: Zion Ponderosa Women’s Getaway!

Isn't this place gorgeous?! Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

Isn’t this place gorgeous?! Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.

So, get this. My brand new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise” officially comes out on April 26th (unofficially, you can pre-order through Norton.com with code HIBBERT, get 25% off, free shipping, and get it now!).

 

Guess where I will be on April 26th? At an incredible women’s adventure retreat at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort! They’ve invited me, as a guest blogger, to experience this retreat with all kinds of amazing activities and natural beauty, and it just happens to be the same week as the release of my new book on exercise! Talk about meant-to-be!

 

8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise_978-0-393-71122-6 copy

Horseback riding is a great physical activity, too!

And talk about making exercise fun! For an entire week, I will be hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, zip-lining, ATV-riding, rapelling, and exploring the grandeur of Zion National Park. I will also get to go paint-balling, sand surfing in the sand dunes, swimming surrounded by the beauty of Utah, and on a helicopter tour! And the best part? I get to share it all with you through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, here on this blog, and even on my radio show, Motherhood!

 

Zion Ponderosa’s Retreat is a perfect example of making exercise fun, adventurous, and enjoyable. It’s a way to reap the mental and physical health benefits of exercise while touching nature in a grand fashion. (Just see the amazing pictures in this post!)

 

I cannot wait to get out, have some fun, and be adventurous at this getaway retreat, which has been called the “Best Active Women’s Getaway Experience.” (For more on Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, and their Women’s Getaway, click here.)

 

 

5 Ways to Make Exercise more Fun

I realize we can’t all go away on an adventure retreat. I was just lucky that they selected me to participate. And certainly, we can’t do big adventurous activities every day. But, we can apply the same idea of fun and adventure to our daily lives, and when we do so, we will reap all the incredible benefits exercise has to offer. Here are a few ways to get started today!

 

1) Pick activities that make you smile. It doesn’t have to be an exercise video, jogging, or going to the

The benefits of hiking--incredible views! Mark Wade, from Zion Ponderosa, at Observation Point.

The benefits of hiking–incredible views! Mark Wade, from Zion Ponderosa, at Observation Point.

gym. Exercise can include dancing, swimming, Zumba, playing with your kids, rollerblading, and so much more! Pick activities that get you moving while helping you have fun. Pick activities that you love!

 

2) Get outdoors! Exercising outside is not only beneficial because it gets you moving; it also gets you into the sun, which has been shown to improve mood, too. Nature is also an important element in boosting the mental health benefits of exercise.  The more you get outside to get moving, the happier you’ll feel!

 

3) Try something new. If you’re not sure what you enjoy, pick something you’ve always wanted to try and go for it. Perhaps you want to go kayaking or try paddle-boarding, or give skiing or snowboarding a try with some lessons. It’s good for us to break out of our rut by trying something new, and especially by trying something adventurous. You just might find a new favorite activity, and in the meantime, your brain and body will enjoy learning new skills.

 

4) Exercise with those you love. Friends, family, your partner–whomever you enjoy being around,

Ziplining--a new adventure at Zion Ponderosa Resort.

Ziplining–a new adventure at Zion Ponderosa Resort.

exercise with them. This not only improves your own mental and physical health; it will improve your family member’s health, and can also improve your relationships. That’s a win-win, and plus, it’s a lot more fun being adventurous and active together!

 

5) Let loose! Don’t hold yourself back for fear of looking or feeling silly. If you feel like dancing, crank up the music and dance! If you feel like riding your bike along the beach, go for it! If you want to try a new class at the gym, give it a shot! When we let go of our inhibitions, exercise becomes fun. When exercise is fun, we enjoy it, and stick with it, so much better.

 

 

 

For more on exercise and mental health, check out my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise.”  

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

 “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise
Pre-Order on Norton.com and SAVE 25% plus free shipping, with the code HIBBERT,
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#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

 My latest book, “Who Am I Without You,” is available now at
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Listen to my episode of  “Motherhood” radio, “How to ‘Choose to Grow’ & Make Lasting Change,” for more tips on motivation!  Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, and/or visit iTunes to subscribe.

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Related Posts/Articles:

How to Get (& Stay) Motivated: (Sneak Peak Excerpt from my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise”)

Mom Mental Health Through Exercise: Pregnancy, Postpartum & Beyond!

New Year, New You! Top 6 Strategies for Personal Growth & Change

“This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan–My New Year’s Gift to You!

New Year’s Goal-Setting: 5 Steps for Personal Growth Success

Becoming the Butterfly: The Power of Personal Transformation

Beyond Resolutions: Discover your New Year’s Vision

What I’ve Learned about Personal Growth from a Decade of New Year’s Themes

Get Mentally & Physically FITT: How to create an exercise program that Works!

6 Strategies for Mind-Body Wellness & Empowerment

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization

Let Your Heart Desire

10 Ways I “Choose to Grow” Each Day

Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to True Happiness

 

Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do

Anxiety & Women-Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #anxiety #women #hormones #sleepIt’s 3:30 a.m. I was simply rolling over to fall back asleep, when my brain switched on like a 100-watt light bulb, and now I’m flooded with stress, worries, and thoughts of what I “need to get done” or about “my overwhelming life,” when I thought I’d put those thoughts to bed hours ago. I know I won’t fall back asleep. Still, I try. I try belly-breathing, then progressive muscle relaxation, then letting myself think for a while, to tire me out. Then, I pray. I pray for sleep. I pray that this knot of tension inside me will leave, that the fatigue my body is feeling will overpower the thoughts that hold me hostage. Finally, at 5 a.m., I get up and begin to type. It helps to get these thoughts out of me and maybe do some good for others in the process. Finally, I sneak down to the basement and exercise; I know it’s one of the best things I can do to not only distract my mind, but to provide much-needed energy for the day and hopefully later, the ability to finally rest.

 

This is anxiety, and trust me, it’s miserable. I don’t know why I haven’t written more about it before. That’s one thought that was spinning through my mind while I wasn’t sleeping this morning—Why haven’t I written about anxiety, when it’s the predominant symptom with which I struggle? When it’s one of the most common issues for all women, for all people? (Read “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety): Overcoming the Stigma”)

 

 

Anxiety & Women

It’s not only my predominant symptom: “Anxiety disorders include phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and separation anxiety disorder, and are considered the most commonly occurring class of mental disorders (CDC 2015)” [2].”

 

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in women. Yes, more common than depression. Anxiety will affect one in three women throughout their lifetime [2], and often, depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. Women are also twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder, and symptoms tend to appear earlier in life for women [1].

 

 

What is Anxiety?

So, what, exactly, is anxiety? Clients have described it to me as, “I’m on edge all the time.” “My mind won’t shut off.” “I can’t stop thinking about everything I need to do” or “worrying about everything that could Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What you Can Do; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comhappen.” “I can’t relax;” “I’m on edge all the time.” Or, I described it, above, “I can’t sleep even though I’m exhausted: My mind is holding me prisoner.”

 

Anxiety is, first and foremost, a feeling. We need anxiety to warn us of danger or to make us to take action when something needs to get done. If something is wrong and we feel worried, stressed, or afraid, anxiety helps set off the sympathetic nervous system, raising our heart rate and blood pressure and setting off stress hormones, like cortisol, in the brain, preparing us for action, telling us, “You need to do something about this!” When we take action, or when we are able to relieve the stressor or resolve the situation, our mind is supposed to shut off, our parasympathetic nervous system returning our body to a calmer state, heart rate slowing to normal, stress hormones subsiding.

 

What is an “Anxiety Disorder?”

Chronic anxiety, like an anxiety disorder, however, comes from an overactive stress response. Instead of resuming a calmer state once the threat has been overcome, the parasympathetic nervous system doesn’t kick in for those with an anxiety disorder. Instead, the mind stays on, keeping the body on high alert, even when there is no actual present threat. This keeps cortisol coursing through the body, blood pressure high, and heart rate working over time. This, understandably, makes it very difficult to relax, for the brain to shut off, to sleep. In turn, poor sleep and little relaxation contribute to anxiety and depression, among other things, and the cycle continues. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

 

Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several forms of anxiety disorder, including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (intense, pervasive anxiety), Panic Disorder (including panic attacks), Specific Phobias (or extreme fears), Social Phobia (or fear of social situations), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD, consisting of obsessive, stress-filled thoughts and compulsions to alleviate the stress), and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, with a traumatic trigger, followed by re-experiencing the event, like in nightmares of flashbacks, numbing/avoidance of things associated with the event, and heightened state of arousal).

 

Additionally, as mentioned above, anxiety may co-occur with major depression or other mental illnesses.

 

Anxiety & Hormones

In women, anxiety is also a common component of hormonal shifts, like those in pregnancy, postpartum, with PMS, PMDD, or in perimenopause. In fact, many women experience the most anxiety during the years leading up to menopause; and many of these women have never experienced anxiety before!

 

In pregnancy and postpartum, anxiety is common, as well, with approximately 6% of pregnant and 10% of postpartum women experiencing a perinatal anxiety disorder. Approximately 10% will experience pregnancy or postpartum panic disorder (with associated panic attacks), 3-5% will experience pregnancy or postpartum OCD, and 9% will experience postpartum PTSD, usually following a traumatic childbirth.

 

Unfortunately, thanks to society’s “myths of motherhood,” many believe it’s “normal” for moms to feel anxious or worried, so too many mothers live with unnecessary anxiety that can make life miserable. The truth is constant anxiety is not normal, and it’s important for women to recognize their symptoms so they can seek and receive treatment to overcome the anxiety and to heal.

 

 

Anxiety, Hormones & Sleep

Anxiety is often associated with insomnia or other sleep issues. Again, this is a vicious cycle, as lack of sleep continues the cortisol and adrenaline in the body that only make anxiety worse, and vice Anxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comversa.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, women are much more likely report sleep issues than men, one reason being the many hormonal shifts women experience premenstrually, in pregnancy and postpartum, and during perimenopause. A few days or a week before a woman’s period starts, she may find she can’t fall asleep or, more commonly, can’t stay asleep, as I described above. As I’ve studied the link between sleep, anxiety, and hormones it’s become clear: women are much more vulnerable to sleep disturbance during times of shifting hormones, and each month those hormones shift twice! First, there’s a drop in Estrogen around day 14, or around ovulation, and then the bigger drop in Estrogen and Progesterone occurs a few days to a week before her period starts. This can make sleep feel impossible for women who are sensitive to these shifts, with terrible sleep one or more weeks every month. (For more on this, read myWomen’s Emotions blog series, parts 1, 2, and 3.)

 

What can You Do for Anxiety?

You don’t have to suffer, living with anxiety. Treatments are available and highly successful.

 

  • The “gold standard” for anxiety treatment is a combination of anti-anxiety medication (including antidepressants, which also reduce anxiety) and psychotherapy. The medication works to correct the overactive brain chemistry while therapy teaches techniques and skills for how to manage daily symptoms. Either one of these treatments on their own will likely be beneficial, as well, research shows. (More on “Antidepressant or Not?” here.)

 

 

  • Learning relaxation skills, like mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation are also beneficial in treating anxiety. Research shows these self-help techniques allow you to train your brain and body to let go and relax. Additionally, anything that helps relieve tension and stress can help–like massage, naps, quiet time, a hot bath, reading, watching a television program (not a scary one!), or time with friends and family.

 

  • Exercise is another helpful treatmenteither alone or as an addition to these other options. The benefits of exercise are proven and extensive, and for anxiety, exercise can not only work out the tension and give the mind a way to let go; it also helps the body become tired, so you’re more likely to sleep better. Though some who struggle with anxiety find cardiovascular exercise difficult, because it may mimic the feeling of anxiety (heart rate up, shortness of breath), lifting weights, doing yoga or Pilates, or very mild walking have shown incredible benefits in rAnxiety & Women: Hormones, Sleep & What You Can Do www.DrChristinaHibbert.comeducing symptoms of anxiety. (Read more about this, as well as strategies to make exercise work for you, in my new book, “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise!” [See Coupon to save 25%, below!])

 

  • Realize anxiety is not you! Then, FEEL the anxiety. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned over the years is that I am not the anxiety. It is a feeling in my body, not me. Too often, anxiety takes over like it’s running the show—the show being your life! And too often, we let it run the show. We feel like we are the anxiety. We fight feeling it because it’s so uncomfortable and we don’t know how to handle it. Or, at least, we think we don’t. One thing you can try is to sit and FEEL the anxiety. Notice where it is in your body. Breathe as you feel it and recognize it is not you. I find it helpful to imagine the anxiety is slightly in front of me as I lean my body away from it. It reminds me I am in charge of my life; my emotions are not. As we FEEL powerful emotions, like anxiety, they truly lose their power. (Read How to FEEL Powerful Emotions & watch the related 3-Minute Therapy video, here.)

 

  • Treat the sleep issues to treat the anxiety. If your sleep is severely affected by anxiety, it may be better to start by treating the sleep. Temporary sleep aids, including melatonin supplements, can help you finally get some rest, and just getting some sleep can help the anxiety begin to decrease. CBT can also help in treat the thoughts associated with sleep disturbances. Sometimes, there may be another sleep disorder, mental illness, or physical illness in play that’s causing your symptoms, so it’s always best to get a full physical evaluation first and talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. (Read Sleep Better, Cope Better: 6 Insomnia Causes & Cures, here.)

 

  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is worth looking into for perimenopausal/ menopausal-related anxiety, and some women benefit from hormone therapies for perinatal anxiety disorders, PMS and PMDD. It can be tricky getting hormone therapies right, however, and many women are sensitive to hormone-based treatments, which may make symptoms worse, at least at first. It is therefore important that you work with a knowledgeable doctor about the best therapies for you. S/he can help monitor your mind and body’s response to hormone treatments as well as your progress. It may take some time to get it right, but when you find a treatment that works, it’s well worth it.

 

  • Avoid/limit caffeine and other stimulants. If it’s your routine to wake up with a heavy dose of caffeine and/or to keep it pumping throughout the day, you may need to tackle that habit first. Caffeine and other stimulants only exacerbate anxiety. If you want the anxiety to diminish, first the caffeine has to vanish.

 

 

 

You can beat Anxiety!

Bottom line: you don’t have to live with constant anxiety. Yes, it will take work. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will take patience–with yourself, and with others. But anxiety is not a normal part of life—for women, for moms, for men, for dads, for kids, for anyone.

 

If you’re suffering from any form of anxiety, please seek help. Talk to your doctor or mental health provider and ask what treatments might be best for you. And if you’re not finding the right answers, keep searching and asking until you do.

 

Don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Start right now. Breathe. Deeply. In and out. And again–in and out. Then, repeat after me, “This anxiety is not me. If I seek help and let it in, I can, and will overcome this anxiety, one breath, one moment, one step at a time.”

 

 

Do you struggle with anxiety? What is most helpful for you in treating symptoms of anxiety? What lessons have you learned that you can share with others experiencing the same thing? Please leave a comment, below, and let us know.

My new book, available on Amazon.com!

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Pre-Order on Norton.com and SAVE 25% plus free shipping, with the code HIBBERT,
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Take my FREE Webinar, “Intro to Women’s Emotions,” or register for my 3-part Webinar Course on “Women’s Emotions: Caring for your Brain, Hormones, and Mental Health to Overcome, Become & Flourish!’

Introduction to Women's Emotions- What you were never taught about your brain, hormones, & mental health! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

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Related Posts/Articles:

New Year, New You! Top 6 Strategies for Personal Growth & Change

“This is How We Grow” 30-Day Personal Growth Plan–My New Year’s Gift to You!

New Year’s Goal-Setting: 5 Steps for Personal Growth Success

Beyond Resolutions: Discover your New Year’s Vision

What I’ve Learned about Personal Growth from a Decade of New Year’s Themes

 

 

 

[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016). Anxiety and Women: Facts. 

[2] Hibbert, C. (2016). 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise. W.W. Norton Publishing: New York, NY.

Perinatal Loss & Grief: Coping, Hoping & Healing Together (in honor of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day)

Perinatal Loss & Grief-Coping, Hoping & Healing Together www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #perinatalloss #grief #loss #pregnancy #postpartum #miscarriage #stillbirth #infantdeathToday is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, a day for families to remember the loss of their baby. Whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death, the loss of a baby is one of the most difficult experiences a mother, father, and family can go through, and today is a day when we can all reach out in support, and love, as we remember, too. Tonight, at 7 pm, millions will light a candle to remember the lost babies. Will you light a candle with us?

This post is for all remembering their babies today, and each day, for all who are grieving, healing, and finding hope again. May these words buoy you up as you seek to cope with and heal from perinatal loss. May you feel my love for you!

 

Coping with Perinatal Loss

One thing that makes perinatal loss especially difficult is the many associated losses that accompany the loss of a baby. Not only has your baby died, but you may also experience:

  • The loss of the future–dreams, hopes, and what “could have been.”
  • A loss of innocence–knowing now how painful life can really be.
  • Loss of support–from friends, family, and even partners who just don’t understand the grief you feel.
  • Loss of confidence–doubt about your body, your habits, and your ability to cope. Loss of confidence in life, in others, and even in God.

Perinatal loss often feels like a “silent” loss, like you’re grieving alone and wondering why no one is feeling this devastation, this hole in the world. You may feel you’re all alone, isolated, like no one understands your pain, like you’ll never be whole again.

 

Allow me to say the words you need to hear, and I pray you’ll believe them:

1. “You’re not alone.” Perinatal loss is, unfortunately, all too common. According to research, more than a million miscarriages occur each year in the United States alone.[1] In 2006, there were 25, 972 reported stillbirths, and 28,509 reported infant deaths.[2] This means millions of women, men, couples, and families are grieving the loss of a child each year. Though you feel isolated in your experience and your grief, reach out. There are many who understand. You’re not alone.

 

2. “You have a right to feel devastated, to feel cheated, angry, depressed, fearful, overwhelmed with The Skills of Overcoming…Depression, Anxiety, PPD, Grief, Hormones, Stress, etc., etc.; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comgrief.” You have a right to feel however you feel–it’s part of grief, and it means you loved your baby. Let yourself feel what you feel.

 

3. “Many people really don’t understand your pain, and that is a horrible truth. But, many people can, and will, understand, if you let them in.” You may feel like nobody “gets it,” like your loss is trivialized or forgotten. Unfortunately, this is common. Many people don’t understand perinatal loss, and few who haven’t been through it really “get” it.  Even couples going through it together experience perinatal loss in unique, and often completely opposite ways. This may make you feel like even your partner doesn’t understand how you feel, that even he or she isn’t grieving the loss of your child as you are. Help them understand by bringing them into your world. Talk about your grief. Explain how you feel. Keep searching until you find that someone who truly understands. (Visit MISSFoundation.org to find support groups for perinatal loss.)

 

4. “As a mother, you’re likely to experience this loss more profoundly than even your partner will, because this baby was carried by you.” You knew this baby best, and often it can feel like no one cares but you. But, they do care. It’s just that you were closest to the baby. It makes sense you would grieve the most deeply. Grief is a sign of love, and you loved your child.

 

5. Pregnancy and postpartum loss not only affects mothers; it can have a significant impact on the father/partner, the couple’s relationship, other children, and the entire family system. Loss and grief have long been considered an individual process, but couples and families who turn together in times of perinatal grief will not only heal as individuals, they will strengthen the family, too.

 

6. Each will experience the loss and grieve in his or her own unique way. Mothers can feel alone in their grief process—like they carry the weight of grief for the family. Fathers/partners may isolate into work or activities to cope with grief, making it difficult for couples to come together and work through grief as a team. Siblings or other children are often forgotten in the grief process because parents are so overcome by their own grief. Thus, families often bear the stress of grief symptoms, with family members feeling isolated or like the family is pulling apart. Yet, families who FEEL together HEAL together (This is How We Grow). (Read “Dealing with Grief,” “Siblings & Grief” and “Children & Grief”). 

Watch my episode of Motherhood Radio, “Coping, Healing & Carrying On After Perinatal Loss,” on YouTube, here

 

Grieving the Loss of a Baby

How can one find hope again after perinatal loss? The first step is to grieve your loss. Until you grieve sufficiently, it will be challenging to fully heal. And until you fully heal, it’s tough to feel the hope you desire.

Grief is part of pregnancy and postpartum loss, and can have a wide range of emotional, physical, and mental symptoms, including: sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, loneliness, numbness, fatigue, tightness in chest/throat, sleep disturbance, changes in appetite, restlessness, confusion, inability to concentrate, poor memory, and even experiences like hearing or seeing the deceased.

In fact, experts estimate there are over 100 symptoms of grief. That’s why it can feel so hard. We become overwhelmed with a horde of emotions and symptoms that leave us wondering, “How do I deal with my grief?”

Perinatal grief, like that after miscarriage or stillbirth, can be even more complex and unique. It often involves a sense of biological failure and a loss of self. It can be tough to process because, as we discussed above, the loss is often minimized by others, leaving mothers, fathers, and families feeling vulnerable. Loss in pregnancy and postpartum can also be accompanied by a loss of innocence, a knowing that death and painful loss are real and do happen. This can increase anxiety, worry, and fear in mothers and their family members, and these fears often carry over into future pregnancies as well. (Read Sharon Martin, LCSW’s post, “Healing Perinatal Loss“).

 

What is a family to do in times of perinatal loss and grief, to restore hope and to heal?

1)   First, know that your loss is real. It matters. And it is real and matters for your family members, too. Even if they feel or express their sense of loss in a different way, know that it matters to each of you.

 

2)   Know that grief is the body and mind’s healthy response to perinatal loss, and grief work is necessary to move forward. You must grieve your losses, and your family members must as well. Help children, partners, and other family members understand their need to grieve and give permission for family members to talk about or work through grief openly. (Read “How do I grieve? Grief work & TEARS)

 

3)   Remember it is normal for each of us to experience and work through grief in our own way. Try to respect your family member’s methods of grieving, but also try to turn together and bridge the gaps. (Read Dealing with Grief Together, www.DrChristinaHIbbert.comGrief & the Family“)

 

4)   Grieve individually AND grieve together, when possible. Grieving individually is important to help you process and experience your own grief reactions. But turning together and grieving as a family is powerful and can protect and strengthen family relationships. Mark the loss with a memorial or creative project, talk about it, cry together, ask, “How are you feeling today” and listen. Families who can do these things will not only heal; they can and will grow stronger through perinatal loss and grief. (Read “The 5 Stages of Grief“)

 

A few more things to remember about coping with and grieving Perinatal Loss…

1)   There is no set time frame for how long grief “should” last. However, actively working on grief in the ways described above or through counseling or other methods can help grief resolve more quickly.

 

2)   Honor special anniversaries and occasions. It helps process your grief to remember the people and things you have lost. Involve family, friends, and your children. (Read “Grief & Children: What you can Do?“)

 

3) As much as possible, turn toward your partner in times of perinatal grief. As we turn toward one another, instead of away, we offer one another the opportunity to grow as a couple, to heal, and to move on, together.

 

4)   Involve other adults if you feel unable to cope with parenting while you treat your grief. It can be tough for parents to maintain their parenting role in times of grief. If it gets to be too much, ask a family member or friend to step into a “parent” role for a while. This will give you time to heal yourself while insuring your other children are not left to cope alone.

 

5)   Seek grief counseling and support. Working with a grief counselor or perinatal loss support group can be incredibly powerful. It helps to have someone to guide you through and to remember you are not alone. (Visit MISS Foundation for info on support and counseling.)

 

 

Healing from Perinatal Loss & Finding Hope Again

Through grief work, turning toward one another, and relying upon family, friends, and other supports in your time of need, you can, and will heal from this loss.

This doesn’t mean you “get over it.” You never “get over” the loss of a loved one, especially a child. But you do move on. You carry on. You heal. You grow. And you begin to feel that seed of hope sprouting once more in your soul. Hope for the future, hope for seeing your little one again in that bright day, hope for Join PSI's Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month Blog Hop! www.DrChristinaHibbert.comfamily growth and healing, and hope that everything we go through we can also choose to “grow” through (from my memoir, “This is How We Grow).

So, today and everyday, remember your child. Honor your child. Talk about your child. And for all who wish to support a family through perinatal loss, I say the same: Remember their child. Honor their child. Talk about their child. Use the child’s name (if s/he has one). Remembering is healing. It is keeping them alive. (Read Sharon Martin, LCSW’s post, and “How to Support a Friend Grieving Pregnancy and Infant Loss“).

Today, on this Day of Remembrance, remember. Remember all the children who have been lost. Remember all the parents who have survived and are carrying on. Tonight, at 7 pm, join families around the world in lighting a candle to remember the babies who’ve been lost (more info here). Remember, today. Love, today.

 

 

Please share your memories, feelings, and thoughts about this article in the comments, below. 

 

 

Listen to “Coping, Healing, & Carrying On After Perinatal Loss,” featuring Sharon Martin, LCSW, personal and professional expert on perinatal loss, on “Motherhood” radio. Listen on demand/download the episode at WebTalkRadio.net, or visit iTunes to subscribe to the show.

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My new book, available on Amazon.com!

My NEW book is almost here! “8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise
Pre-order today!

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling, award-winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now at Amazon or Barnes & Noble!

 

 

"Who Am I Without You?" 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #book #selfesteem #breakup #divorce

 My latest book, “Who Am I Without You,” is available now at
 TargetAmazonBarnes & NobleNew Harbinger, or your local bookseller!

 

 

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Related Posts/Articles:

How to Cope with and Treat Perinatal Loss & Grief (guest post from Postpartum Progress blog)

Dealing with Grief

Siblings & Grief

How do I Grieve? Grief Work & Tears

Grief & the Family

Grief & Children: What You Should Know 

5 Skills of Overcoming…Grief, PPD, Stress, etc.

Understanding & Overcoming Anger

FEEL: How to cope with Powerful Emotions

Women & Depression: 12 Facts Everyone Should Know

Postpartum Depression Treatment: What Everyone Should Know

Postpartum Depression & Men

Women’s Emotions: Part 3, The Menstrual Cycle & Mood 

Relationship Rescue

15 Proven Ways to Stress Less

12 Facts on Depression & Medication 

References 

1 Ventura SJ, Curtin SC, Abma JC, Henshaw SK. Estimated pregnancy rates and rates of pregnancy outcomes for the United States, 1990-2008. National vital statistics reports; vol 60 no 7. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

2 MacDorman MF, Kirmeyer SE, Wilson EC. Fetal and perinatal mortality, United States, 2006. National vital statistics reports; vol 60 no 8. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

Mental Illness, Stigma & Suicide: Finding Hope in the Darkest Times

Mental Illness, Stigma, & Suicide; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com**I realize this is a tough subject to talk about, and I do speak very candidly in this article about some painful, but important, things. If you are in a vulnerable place right now and in any way feel triggered by these topics, then please do not read this at this time.**

 

I didn’t plan to be writing about death and suicide this week. I wanted to be writing about happier things, like back-to-school or fulfilling your life’s purpose (like we’re working on in my Personal Growth Group). But I’m compelled to write on this topic today,b because, once again, suicide has reared its ugly head in my life, by taking the lives of two more of those whom I loved.

A couple weeks ago, my husband’s cousin lost his life after over four decades of struggling with self-esteem, mental illness, and just plain old life. And just two days ago, a dear friend who had suffered so much and overcome so much, finally lost her battle with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

This friend, Naomi, suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis years ago, which resulted in her committing infanticide, killing her own daughter. She served ten years in prison for this–a tragedy in itself–and even knew my friend, Hope, who is serving 40 years for child abuse as a result of postpartum psychosis (read about Hope). She was finally out, had recently married, and was finally building her new life. We met just over a month ago for lunch here in Flagstaff, because she wanted to talk with me and with my dear friend, Carole, about how she could get involved with the postpartum work we’ve been doing for years here in Arizona. She had started the Phoenix Postpartum Wellness Coalition, to advocate and support other moms struggling with postpartum depression, anxiety, and psychosis. She was even advocating for Hope, to get her out of prison, and will be featured in a forthcoming documentary on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She was full of life and love, and she was a beautiful person–bright and hopeful. And she lost her life to depression. (Read Naomi’s blog, her legacy, here.)

I’ve been surrounded by death my whole life, but lately, it’s been suicide. As many of you know, last year, my close friend, Jody, took her life after silently struggling with depression and anxiety. a week after Jody died, a young man at our kids’ school took his life by jumping in front of a train. Later that week, I received word that a young client of mine who also attended our kids’ school had been planning to hand herself. She’d been “inspired” by Jody and the other young man. Her mother had luckily found her suicide notes just in time to get her admitted to the hospital. And of course, almost 8 years ago, my dearest sister, Shannon, accidentally overdosed while drunk one night, after struggling on and off with depression and alcoholism (Read about my experience in This is How We Grow.)

I’m raising children who have lost a parent to mental illness and addiction. I’m a second mom to 3 more children whose mother is no longer here because she couldn’t feel how loved she was and she couldn’t accept the help that was surrounding her; the depression was too dark. And now, I’m once again grieving the loss of two more dear lives, all because of mental illness, stigma, and the dark call of suicide.

 

How can we help those who are suffering find hope i their darkest times, and how can we find hope in these dark times after such loss?

My family with my friend's family, sending balloons to Jody in heaven to remember her one year death anniversary. We need each other.

My family with my friend’s family, sending balloons to Jody in heaven to remember her one year death anniversary. We need each other.

It’s hard to know when someone is suffering so sorely, to know that they are considering taking their life. It’s hard to tell which of those who feel like dying (which is quite common) will actually plan and complete that death. Even when we know someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts or intentions, it’s hard to know what they’re really thinking. When Jody asked me to watch her daughter the next day for her, I knew she’d been struggling with suicidal thoughts. I thought, “What if she’s trying to be alone so she can do something to herself?’ I replied to her text, “Sure, I’ll watch her. But I’m worried about you, my friend. How are you doing?” She replied, “Doing great! Don’t worry about me! xoxoxo.” I believed her when she said she would use that time to go for a jog, to take care of herself. Instead, she took her life.

It’s hard to talk about this; we’re not supposed to talk about it. We’re not supposed to say on Facebook, “My friend died today after leaving her daughter at my house, sending her husband and older boys to school and work, and then grabbing a coffee before driving to the Grand Canyon and jumping off.” No. We can’t say that. So, instead the posts say, “It is with great sorry that I inform you that so and so died last night.” No explanation of how they died. No “died of cancer” or “died in a terrible car accident.” None of that. The silence lets us know what really happened.

But the silence is also what leads to suicide. The stigma surrounding mental illness, addiction, and thoughts of wanting to die is so huge, it keeps people who most need to scream, silent. Why can’t they just scream? Why can’t they just scream, “I’m suffering! I need help! I am NOT okay!”? One word: stigma.

 

Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness & Suicide

Stigma gags us. It puts a dirty hand over our mouth, or shoves a dirty rag inside, and stops us from speaking up when we need it most. It tells us, “You can’t admit your’e struggling. That’s weak. That’s embarrassing. No one will like you. You’ll be rejected, humiliated, or worse, feared.” Stigma IS fear. It is fear of not being good enough, fear of not being “normal.” It is others’ fear of the mentally ill, fear of seeing themselves in the mental illness, fear of becoming “like them” one day, too.

The truth is, deep down, we are all the same, mental illness or not. We all struggle in some way or another–it’s no secret! We are ALL ill, in some way, at some time of our life. Physical illness isn’t you. Mental illness isn’t you, either, and it’s not weakness. It’s like diabetes, migraines, cancer–an illness that can come and cause trouble or stress, an illness that needs attention, treatment, and care to overcome. It’s an illness, like physical illness (and maybe even more so), that needs love to overcome.

 

What can we do? Understand. Talk. Love.

Before we can stop the stigma, before we can begin to heal from mental illness and the pain of loss when those we love can hold on no longer, we must first understand, talk, and love. It is our only hope.

 

Understand. Understand that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. Understand that, Mental Illness, Stigma, & Suicide- Finding Hope in the Darkest Times; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comeven so, it is very hard to admit and seek help for mental illness. Seek to understand those in your life who struggle. Listen. Hear.

Understand that it’s “normal” to feel like you don’t want to be alive when you’re suffering from mental, or physical, illness, pain, or heartache. It’s NOT, however, normal to start planning to die or to act on that feeling. If this is happening, you need immediate help (see the numbers below). Seek that help. Reach out. Help others get the help they need.

Understand that suicide often follows after the darkest days have passed, when the person is starting to feel a little bit better. Watch more closely, talk more openly during this time.

Also, understand that, often those who are set on a plan for suicide seem better, happier, more relaxed. They know what they’re going to do and it feels like the right thing in that state of mind. Be there. Look at them. Look deeply to understand.

 

Talk. Talk about mental illness. Talk about how you feel, ask others how they’re really doing, and then listen. Connect. Be there for one another and let them know it’s okay to struggle. We all do.

Talk about receiving help and help them reach out and find the help they need. Talk to them face-to-face if you have any doubts or worries. Stay with them if you’re uncertain. Oh, how I wish I’d run out to the car that night when Jody dropped her daughter off, to SEE if she was really okay or not. I know it’s not my fault that she died, but oh how I wish I would have taken that extra step. Who knows what it could have done.

 

Love. Last week, my dear cousin, Eddie, and his beautiful wife, Mary, lost their sweet angel Love Greatly, "Mental Illness, Stigma & Suicide: Finding Hope in the Darkest Times"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comdaughter when my cousin accidentally backed over her in a parking lot. She was three years old. It has devastated our entire family and the community where they live–another reason death has been on my mind. Yet, the outpouring of love for them and their other two children has been incredible. You see, not only has this tragedy occurred, but Eddie has been battling inoperable brain cancer for three years, and beating the odds. Now this. It’s too much for any family to take. And yet, they move on in faith and love, and they reach out for help and for donations to cover the funeral and thousands of dollars of medical bills, and they accept that help. And they carry on; I know they will. (More on dealing with grief, grief and the family, and grief and children, here.) (To donate to Eddie’s family, click here.)

Why can’t we have this kind of support for all kinds of people who are suffering? For those who tragically lose a child, for those who suffer from depression, for those who are battling terrible physical illnesses, and for those who struggle to find enough value in this life to keep themselves alive. Why can’t we talk about this? Why can’t we seek to understand, to be there, to tell stigma to take a hike because we won’t allow mental illness to sit in silence any longer? Why can’t we choose to love greatly?

This is my hope–that we will begin to love greatly today. Begin to reach out, to smile, to ask, to talk, to listen. Begin to hug, to understand–to cry together, to FEEL together. Begin to expose mental illness and discuss it and seek help and let help in.

Together, we can stop the stigma that strangles us. Together, we can save lives.

 

Leave a comment with your thoughts, below, and let’s keep this conversation going.

 
 

If you or anyone you know needs help, please call one of the following numbers:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Postpartum Support International Support Line: 800-944-4773

 

Listen to my powerful “Motherhood” radio episode, “Shedding Light (& Hope) on the Dark Side of Motherhood” to learn more about Hope, Naomi, & this important topic.

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Depression & Motherhood: Facts, Help, & How to Overcome

Depression & Motherhood-Facts, Help, & How to Overcome, www.DrChristinaHibbert.comDepression affects one in five women throughout their lifetime and is especially prevalent during the childbearing years. Pregnancy, postpartum, hormone shifts, sleep depravation, and the pressure of parenting and raising children while also dealing with life changes and stress, all combine to make depression in motherhood common.

 

Motherhood & Depression

In fact, motherhood does make us more vulnerable to depression. While the lifetime rate for women and depression is about 20%, the majority of these episodes occur in the childbearing years. 10% of women experience depression in pregnancy, 15% experience postpartum depression, and if untreated, maternal depression can last for months or even years. It makes sense, doesn’t it, considering the extreme stress, lack of sleep, hormonal shifts, and life changes that occur in the mothering years?

There are various types of depression in motherhood, including major depression, which is a clinical disorder and includes symptoms like:

  • sadness, crying

    Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

    Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

  • fatigue
  • hopelessness
  • feeling worthless
  • changes in sleep or appetite
  • lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • guilt, frustration, and/or anxiety
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • possible suicidal thoughts

Dysthymia is a form of milder depression that persists most of every day for most days, for two years or more. Seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is also common in women of childbearing years, and is believed to be more common in women who are also vulnerable to PMS. Finally, situational depression may occur because of loss, change, or life stress. This type of depression may go away when the situation clears up, or it may persist, especially if it was never dealt with.

 

Hormones, Depression, & Motherhood

And then there are hormones. Hormone-related depression can come in the form of postpartum depression, perimenopause, and/or PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It’s estimated 85% of women experience at least one significant symptom of PMS each month, and PMS is most common and at its worst among women in their childbearing years.

Approximately 3-8% of women experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD. PMDD most commonly affects women who have at least one child, are in their late 20’s-early 40’s, and who have a family or personal history of depression or postpartum depression. [1] These facts just speak to the role our shifting hormones and compiling life experiences play in the development of mood changes, and especially in depression. (More on hormones and women’s emotions here.)

 

How do we know when we’re experiencing depression, versus just having a bad day or week or month or year?

People often say, “I’m depressed,” but what they really mean is that they’re sad, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted. True depression lasts for two weeks or more, and includes symptoms like those above, like: sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings; feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt. It also significantly impacts your daily life, your relationships, and your functioning. Major depression isn’t something you just wake up and “get over.” It’s something you must work to overcome. But, remember that, with help and time and work, it IS something that can be overcome.

 

The Impact of Depression on Kids, Partners, Family

The hardest part of depression in motherhood is often the fact that we moms can’t afford to be Depression & Motherhood- Facts, Help & How to Overcome www.DrchristinaHibbert.comdepressed. We have to be “on,” 24/7; we don’t want to feel depressed, and we especially don’t want our children to suffer as a result. All this can add up to some pretty hefty guilt, and sometimes, even shame.

The truth is that untreated maternal depression does impact our children. In fact:

  • Untreated maternal depression is the number one predictor of future behavioral and cognitive problems in the child.
  • It is associated with less positive parenting practices, like smiling, reading to, and talking with children.
  • It can affect social development, since children of depressed mothers often take on the low self-esteem their mothers tend to exhibit.
  • And untreated depression can negatively impact marriage and relationships as well, often leading to depression in one’s husband or partner, or too often, to separation or divorce.

Yes, the stakes are too high, moms. We can’t afford to let ourselves remain depressed. We can no longer kid ourselves by saying, “It only affects me.” It doesn’t. And even if it did, is that what we really want? To feel miserable? To feel unworthy? To feel so low all the time?

I don’t say this to add more guilt. Trust me, as a mother who struggles with depression myself, that’s the last thing I would want to do. I say this because it’s true. Motherhood does not mean depression. We can, and will, overcome depression, if we take it seriously and seek help. We can be happy, full of hope, and joyful as we raise our children. But first, we need to be honest with ourselves and seek help. We need to take action, to let go of the guilt that holds us captive. We must trust that we can, and will, be well again.

 

Help: What can we do about Maternal Depression?

There are many ways we can treat depression, including self-help, social support, and professional help like therapy and medication. In order to know what will work best for you, it’s important to create a game plan.

In this week’s episode of my “Motherhood” radio show, I spoke with Jennifer Peterson, mom of 5, writer, and creator of the blog “The JoyFinders.”  Jen has struggled with depression and is very candid about the lessons she has learned, and I share some of my own struggles and lessons as well. Listen to the episode on demand, on WebTalkRadio.net or download it for later. Or, watch it on my YouTube channel. Then, read how to create your game plan, below.

[stream provider=youtube flv=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DaSQrCikl660 img=x:/img.youtube.com/vi/aSQrCikl660/0.jpg embed=false share=false width=640 height=360 dock=true controlbar=over bandwidth=high autostart=false responsive=16:9 /]

 

How to Overcome: Creating Your Game Plan

One thing Jen shared was how important it is for her to have a game plan, and I agree, it’s crucial. How do we create a “game plan” for dealing with depression? Here are a few ideas:

  • Be honest about where you are. Before you can be honest with others, you need to be
    I started the "I am the FACE of Depression" campaign to get people talking. It's okay to admit you struggle with depression. It doesn't define you.

    I started the “I am the FACE of Depression” campaign to get people talking. It’s okay to admit you struggle with depression. It doesn’t define you.

    honest with yourself. It’s okay to say “I’m struggling with depression.” In fact, you may find it freeing. Sort of like an exhale—it can be a relief to just be where you are. Sometimes, your body is screaming at you: “Hey! I’m not doing so well. We need to be depressed for a while and figure some things out!” Are you listening? (Read “Women & Depression” for a new view.)

 

  • Find what you need. What do you need to overcome depression? This will look a little bit different for each person, but pay attention and see what things help you feel better. Your list may include things like, “I need to talk with a friend each day, to go for a walk, and to get to bed early.” It may include, “I need to give myself a break, to say “no” more for now, and to go out with my husband at least once a week.” What do YOU need when you’re in the throes of depression? Some common items include: sleep, exercise, activity, social interaction, doing less, alone time, time to rest, serving others, quality time with kids/partner/friends, a support group, therapy, massage, medication, etc.

 

  • Seek support. We need each other, especially in times of discouragement, grief, heartache, and depression. Yet, depression can make us want to isolate. That’s one of the hardest things about it. But healing comes through seeking and finding support. Search out those people in your life who make you feel comfortable, who “get” you, who understand depression and will be there for you. Sometimes, it helps to have a friend or family member who will check up on you, who will push you out of the house or stop by to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Professional help is important, too. Therapy is a great place to start—to learn coping strategies and help solidify your game plan. If your depression is moderate to severe or if self-help and therapy don’t work, you may want to talk to your doctor about trying an antidepressant. (Read “Antidepressant? Or not? )

 

  • Schedule activity. Even one little activity each day that gets you dressed or interacting with people or out in the sunshine or out of the house can make a big difference on your mood. It’s one of the best things you can do to “treat” your depression. And getting in the sunshine is also excellent for lifting depressed mood.

 

  • Talk about it. Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. The more we talk about it, the more we see we are not alone. I wrote about my battles with depression in this article. Jen shares her struggles in our Motherhood interview. Be honest with your family, with your partner, with your close friends. No, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet. But, explaining to those who love you most that you’re having a hard time and are working on it is very helpful. I encourage you to talk with your kids about it, too, in words they can understand. Many moms fear that telling their kids will make them afraid or worried. The truth is, they probably already know something isn’t “right,” and talking honestly with them about it can be reassuring, if it’s done right. Same goes for husbands/partners. My close friend struggled to even tell her husband she was suffering from depression and anxiety. She tried to handle it all on her own, and she eventually took her own life. Again, the stakes are too high. We can’t afford to remain silent. Talk about it. It is healing.

 

  • Write it down. Once you know your game plan, write it down. Post it somewhere you will see it often so it can remind you of what you’re aiming to do.

 

  • Follow your plan and adjust as needed.  It will take time to figure out what you need to become depression-free, just like it will take time to heal from depression. It’s okay to let yourself be where you are, to take the time you need to do it right. Make changes as you learn new elements of your plan for wellness. For instance, if winter hits and you suddenly realize how much sunshine has to do with your mood, you may make sitting in the sun each morning a part of your routine, or exercising outside a “must do.”

 

Remember:

  • Depression isn’t you.Motherhood & Depression-Facts, Help & How to Overcome, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #motherhood #depression #mentalhealth
  • It’s doesn’t make you weak, and it’s not a character flaw.
  • Depression isn’t something to feel ashamed of; it’s something to work on.
  • While it’s normal to feel guilt when you’re a mom who’s depressed, it’s also only helpful if you use that guilt to help you grow. Let it guide you toward the help and plan you need. Then, let the rest go.
  • With honesty, openness, and work, your family will not suffer as a result of your suffering. They are resilient, and so are you.
  • You are not alone. Seek support and love. Then, let it in.
  • With help, you will be well.

 

What is the hardest part of depression in motherhood for you? What helps you overcome? What does your game plan contain? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below.

 

 

References:

[1] Premenstrual Syndrome Fact Sheet, http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/premenstrual-syndrome.html.

[2] More facts on Postpartum Depression: http://www.postpartum.net

 

 

 

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Link for this episode: Depression & Motherhood: What is it? And what can we do about it?

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FREE “Postpartum Couples” Online DVD!

FREE Postpartum Couples DVD! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #depression #anxiety #ppd #motherhood
For the first time ever, my internationally-sold DVD, Postpartum Couples, is available online for FREE!

 

I’ve seen Postpartum Couples probably a couple hundred times, and yet I still get choked up as I listen to the stories of these three couples–as they honestly share what it was like for them to go through postpartum depression (PPD), anxiety, and psychosis.

 

The men especially get me choked up as they openly express their feelings about their wives and the experience of PPD, getting emotional right off the bat as they describe the challenges and how they overcame them together.

 

Postpartum Couples was actually the first video to explore both the mothers and the father’s experience of postpartum mood/anxiety disorders. It’s also the only video to discuss the impact on the couple’s relationship.

 

I’ve used Postpartum Couples in therapy, support groups, and presentations. I’ve shown it to pregnant and postpartum women, men, and couples; to mental health providers; and to doctors, nurses, and anyone working with postpartum families–to educate, illuminate, and raise awareness of the truth of postpartum depression and the hope of treatment and healing.

 

If you or someone you know might benefit from better understanding:

1) The symptoms,

2) The treatment, and

3) The prevention of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders;

4) The mother’s experience,

5) The father’s experience,

6) and how PPD may impact a couple’s relationship…

and many other important truths about postpartum depression

then, please click on this link, or on the image above or below, for more information and for INSTANT ACCESS to my Postpartum Couples DVD! And don’t forget to share this post!

 

It is my hope that, in making this video available for free online, we can increase awareness, education, and support for families and providers dealing with perinatal mood/anxiety disorders.

 

May all pregnant and postpartum moms, dads, and families feel and know:

You truly are not alone, you are not to blame, and with help, you can (and will) be well! (PSI’s Universal Motto)

 

FREE Postpartum Couples DVD! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #postpartum #depression #anxiety #ppd #motherhood

 

For immediate postpartum support, help, or referrals in your area,

please visit Postpartum Support International.

 

 

 

 

 

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Postpartum Depression Treatment: Sleep

Postpartum Depression & Men: The Facts on Paternal Postnatal Depression

Mom Mental Health (& Happiness): The Importance of Alone Time

The Baby Blues & You

Postpartum Survival Mode

Pregnancy & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders: Are Women of Advanced Maternal Age at Higher Risk?

In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

Womens’ Emotions & Hormones– Series

Achieving Balance–Why You’ve Got it Wrong, & How to Get it Right

Pregnancy & Postpartum Loss, Grief, & Family Healing (Part 1)

How to Cope with and Treat Perinatal Loss & Grief (Part 2)

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