(WMBD) — First comes pregnancy, then comes bringing home your bundle of joy. While it’s an exciting time, there are also some challenges, and for some, it’s hard to cope with.

In this week’s Mom Hacks, Kyreon Lee spoke with Melissa Millinger, who is a licensed clinical social worker at Healing Hearts Counseling, and a certified perinatal mental health specialist. Additionally, Millinger is a Board Member of Postpartum Support International and is the leader of Climb Out of the Darkness Central IL

Millinger said perinatal mental health concerns happen during pregnancy, or up to a year afterward.

“The most common complication during childbirth is actually perinatal mental health concerns. These concerns happen for one in five women, one in three women of color, and one in 10 dads,” she said.

Most people are familiar with postpartum depression however, Millinger said as specialists, they’re trying to move away from that verbiage, and shift the focus to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

“Perinatal because it happens to mothers and fathers. It’s not just the birth person. The signs and symptoms that we want to look for are changes in mood, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, being very frustrated, not connecting with the baby. Maybe not feeling like you can care for yourself,” Millinger said.

There are multiple risk factors that come along with it.

“A woman that would be at risk for experiencing a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder would be someone that has a history of mental health, [someone] that has possibly an unplanned pregnancy or a complicated pregnancy, someone that has a traumatic birth, so someone that has a birth story that goes very different than they anticipated. A high-stress parenting position, so single parents, military parents, and parents with multiples,” she said.

Millinger said if you’re a parent or caregiver that is having a troublesome time adjusting, reaching out for help is the best option, starting with a primary caregiver. If you’re still experiencing issues, there are treatment options such as therapy, and medication, if necessary.

“With treatment, one of the best things is that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can be curable. 85% are curable and so with the appropriate help you will get well,” she said.

Millinger said establishing a village is also key when it comes to raising a little one, and asking for help from those you love and trust.

“The one thing that I always say is realistic expectations. The house is not going to be spotless every day, babies are not going to be happy nonstop, we’re not going to have wonderful days every day either. We need to give ourselves a little bit of grace,” she said. “Realistic expectations and building up that village.”

Resources:
Healing Hearts Counseling

Postpartum Support International – IL Chapter

Climb Out of the Darkness Central IL

OSF Healthcare Support Groups

UnityPoint Health Support

Moms Group: We Climb Together