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Welcome to the Mom & Mind Podcast!

This podcast focuses on the Maternal Mental Health struggles related to becoming pregnant, being pregnant, birth and early parenthood. We talk about all of the stuff that you wish someone would have told you BEFORE you tried to be pregnant or have a baby. Postpartum depression is only part of the story.

The goal of this podcast to put all of this info out in the open. There’s no need to hide these very human experiences…so many people deal with these struggles. So, the podcast provides real life stories of moms, dads and family AND we will talk with experts, leaders and advocates in the field of maternal mental health and maternal health. You deserve to be informed!!!!

For more information and resources, go to www.momandmind.com

Nov 19, 2018

Imagine what it would be like to not even trust yourself to be alone with your children---for fear of doing them harm. What if you KNEW something was wrong with your mental health, but couldn’t find the help and support you needed? Dealing with anxiety is always a problem, but never more so than in the postpartum period, when a mom is called upon to give SO MUCH of herself to care for her new baby. Yet moms are not informed and educated about the possibilities that may occur, or given access to the resources that can provide help. My guest today is committed to getting the word out that there is help for new moms.

Alexis Bruce is a stay-at-home mom turned maternal mental health advocate after the traumatic birth of her youngest son. Her birth experience, postpartum anxiety, and intense OCD fears and thoughts have been the impetus for her desire to help others in these situations. Through her struggle, it became clear that there is a lack of information and education about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and her mission has become to change that narrative. Alexis now works with Moms Mental Health Initiative, a local non-profit group whose mission is to help moms navigate perinatal mood and anxiety disorders by sharing information, connecting them to resources, and providing the necessary peer support. Alexis lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, Tyler, stepdaughter Ava, and sons Noah and Leo. 

Show HIghlights:

  • How Alexis struggled long-term with anxiety that was usually manageable until her first son was born, and the intrusive thoughts began, with fears, panic attacks, and guilt
  • Becoming unexpectedly pregnant again, when Noah was only 8 months old, caused a spike in anxiety
  • Intrusive thoughts began again, and Alexis now knows that this is the way her brain sends alarms
  • She went to a therapist and things got better until she was 33 weeks along
  • Around midday, while home alone with Noah, she experienced severe bleeding, called her husband, and paramedics came and took her to the hospital by ambulance, all the while with her fearing she had lost the baby
  • The baby’s hearbeat was OK and they started preparing for an emergency C-section, but then decided to wait and see what would happen
  • Steroid shots for the baby to help lungs develop, and the hope that she could wait 48 hours to deliver
  • Discomfort, contractions, and then intense pain: within 5 minutes, 12 people from the NICU team, several nurses, and the doctor were all present in the room
  • How Alexis pushed once and Leo was born, but he was whisked away
  • The helpless feeling of listening to the medical team trying to get the baby to breathe
  • With no information about their baby’s condition, they watched the baby taken away to NICU
  • Alexis felt no sympathy or attention to the severity of the trauma she had been through; the nurse came in and told her to start pumping, something she did 10x each day for the next few days
  • She finally got to see her son about 3 hours later, but he was covered in tubes and medical tape
  • How Alexis went into survival mode while Leo spent 21 days in NICU, and she and her husband took shifts being at the hospital and at home with their other kids
  • Leo developed severe reflux and had to be kept upright 24 hours/day
  • The support they received from their families, especially Alexis’ mother-in-law
  • With increased anxiety and panic attacks, Alexis knew she needed to see someone
  • She saw her primary care doctor and started on meds, because every therapist had a long wait for an appointment
  • She was afraid to be left alone with the kids and wouldn’t even use a knife at the table with them, because she didn’t trust herself
  • How she googled to find support and found Postpartum Support International---the first time she felt hopeful
  • She was referred to Moms Mental Health Initiative, saw a therapist that very day, and joined Circle of Hope, a closed Facebook peer support group
  • How Alexis found the fastest way to get better was to immerse herself in treatment
  • The focus on exposure response prevention therapy
  • Why Alexis feels fortunate to be in a place with trained providers who could help
  • Speaking and sharing her story has given her joy and empowerment
  • Now, Alexis is the Marketing Communications Director for Moms Mental Health Initiative, coordinating their media, blogs, and newsletters
  • The lack of education and information about postpartum anxiety and mood disorders
  • If she had known intrusive thoughts were a real possibility, she would have asked for help a lot sooner
  • A hopeful message from Alexis: “You aren’t alone. Help is available. It’s possible on the recovery end to grieve the pregnancy and postpartum period that you wanted to have.”
  • Alexis’ advice: “Be aware of vulnerabilities, be gentle with yourself, and have self-compassion.”

 

Resources:

www.momsmentalhealthmke.org

www.postpartum.net

Email Moms Mental Health Initiative: mmhimke@gmail

Find Moms Mental Health Initiative on Facebook