Postpartum Health Alliance

April 2016 Newsletter

There is a lot of exciting news to share with you this month. From PHA's recent public recognition, to a national online radio show in which PHA experts have an opportunity to discuss PMADs in depth, to warmline activity, we have a lot going on! In addition, this month of April marks National Fertility Awareness Week. In recognition, Board member Bethany Warren shares her clinical expertise on how to help a client craft a fertility story to facilitate their healing. Lastly, several providers have created new support groups that are listed in the Clinical Listserve news below. Read on and thank you as always for your involvement and support of PHA.
As you know, Postpartum Health Alliance hosts a warmline at (619) 254-0023 for women or their loved ones to call with any questions or if needing support. This service is vital in fulfilling our mission of providing support and treatment referrals to women and their families. In recent months, we have steadily had an increase in call volume and online inquiries. Its great news that more people are seeking out support and information! This means that our warmline is currently needing volunteers. So if you are a mental health clinician, work in the pregnancy or parenting field, or are a person previously impacted by a Perinatal Mood Disorder, please contact us to learn how you can help.
Postpartum Health Alliance is grateful to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and Live Well San Diego for recognizing us as their 2016 Public Health Organization Champion! The recognition is deeply appreciated. PHA has served the San Diego community for 18 years, raising awareness about PMADs, connecting families to qualified resources and support, and training providers who work with pregnant and postpartum women and their families. We are so proud that the hard work is benefitting the San Diego community!
Postpartum Support International's annual conference will be in San Diego this year, June 24 and 25. The pre-conference certification training in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders will be June 22-23. Make sure to register for the conference by May 6 to get special rate early bird registration! Please note: PHA members qualify for a discounted rate.

April Study Group

Friday, April 29th, 12:30-2pm

3368 2nd Avenue Suite A-2, San Diego, CA, United States

The PMADS study group is once again a regularly occurring event! If you would like to join fellow like minded professionals in order to gain support and knowledge around the treatment of PMADS make sure to not miss the next one on April 29th!

Parking + Gate Code

--There is metered parking north of Upas and free parking to the south

-- Code to the gate is 802


Please RSVP to so I know how many chairs we need.

Feel free to bring any desired food or beverage.


Please share any ideas you may have! The agenda is open and can include case consultation or other topics of interest.

PMADs News and Medical Updates

Featured Spotlight of the Month

What is Your Fertility Story?

Every woman faces the decision of whether or not to become a mother at some point in her life. While some women spend extraordinary amounts of time on this decision, others inherently know their plans without giving it much thought. While the decision about parenthood unites women, what differentiates each woman is her eventual experience. One woman may have identified motherhood as the paramount goal of her life, while another may have prioritized it with less importance, and resulted in the decision more pragmatically once other goals are met. Additionally, some women are able to conceive without much difficulty while others may face miscarriages, other pregnancy losses or infertility. There is such a vast spectrum of this decision-making process, yet it is rarely openly discussed.

Whether or not a person gave birth or became a parent, there is a story to tell about their reproductive journey. Mothers are routinely invited to share their birth stories. However, for women who do not become mothers, or had a difficulty journey to motherhood, their story is not solicited or shared as frequently. Yet, they still had a poignant reproductive journey, and they too can benefit from this crafting of their story as a healthy way to process their experience. When a person explores and develops their own fertility story, there are opportunities to find meaning and value in their experience. As clinicians, we have a powerful opportunity to invite both women and men to develop and share their fertility stories. In doing so, we can facilitate a very beneficial therapeutic process. Here I will share with you some important elements of building this unique yet highly therapeutic narrative of the reproductive journey.

What is Your Facility Story?

Healing comes when a person identifies the narrative that they created about themselves as they went through their reproductive process. This narrative becomes supported in consciously choosing which beliefs they hold on to and which ones do not serve them now that their journey is behind them. Left unexplored, narratives can lead to internalized emotions such as feelings of isolation, self-blame or grief. For example, a woman who took months to conceive may feel like a failure or tell herself she is not fulfilling her most basic role as a woman. If she internalizes this narrative and does not express it to others, she starts believing this sense of failure to be true; yet if she verbalizes her experience, she can begin to make sense of it for herself and eventually move towards acceptance and healing.

When helping clients explore their reproductive story, I focus on helping them identify their personal story. This includes the emotions and decisions that shaped the process ofb planning for, trying and/or achieving pregnancy as well as those who ultimately do not have biological children. Each woman’s story is as unique and nuanced as she is. In the telling of her story in session in a linear fashion, or by journaling to document her experience, a woman can often tap into the underlying emotions and narratives that were crafted. For example, a woman facing significant distress during a failed IVF attempt may eventually understand that she felt pressure to conceive not only for herself but also to provide a grandchild to the family, and as such, feels like a failure when the infertility treatment was unsuccessful. When we explore her journey with her, through inquiry and attentive listening, a woman can make sense of the complexity of emotions she likely experienced during her reproductive journey.

How to Write Your Own Fertility Story

It is very common for people who have had complicated reproductive journeys to feel uncomfortable sharing with others about their challenging pregnancy losses, infertility experiences or complicated parenting decisions. Feelings of shame, isolation or fear of losing emotional control (e.g. “if I talked about it, I might fall apart”) are extremely common. Yet, when these painful hidden spaces are explored in a therapeutic space, women can explore what they have not been able to do elsewhere. Once the story has been looked at from this safe, supportive vantage point, she is more likely to make meaning of her story and minimize the pain from the unconscious narrative. With the story less emotionally charged, she now has the opportunity to share it with others in an emotionally safe and meaningful way. Some questions a woman can explore with her therapist, a friend, or through journaling may help guide the emotional process:

- Did you always want children? Did you feel resolute in this decision or were there times

of indecisiveness or trepidation?

- Are you feeling more firm now on your decision, and if so, what helped you to make a


- Were you and your partner ever on different pages, and if so, how did you manage


- Were there any experiences along the way that surprised you?

- How did those experiences make you feel? Were you ever surprised by your emotional


- Was there anything you started telling yourself about what you went through?

- Were there ever any feelings of shame, self-blame or guilt?

Potential barriers and solutions to writing your fertility story

Another way to support women in working through their own reproductive story is to help them identify the “safe” people with whom they can openly discuss their journey. Of course, this would be someone with whom they would not feel judged, advised, or unaccepted. When uncomfortable with emotion, people often reply with advice-giving or platitudes to ease their own discomfort. How many women, when attempting to share their own reproductive experience, are left feeling further isolated when others respond with such advice as “have you looked into adoption yet?” or platitudes of “God only gives you what you can handle”.

By tapping into the complex decisions and fears we faced, and fully exploring our experiences and the internal narratives that were created, we can find commonalities with others and meaning in our own path. A woman can express her needs to a loved one simply by saying “I want to tell you about going through infertility, can you be there for me?” I invite you to explore your reproductive journey for yourself – what is your fertility story?

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 24-30th and you can go to for more


Bethany Warren is a psychotherapist specializing in women’s health and reproductive

psychiatry in the San Diego area. She services clients who are facing infertility, perinatal mood disorders and pregnancy loss.

Annual Renewal Notices Have Been Sent!

Membership renewal notices and reminders have been sent out from our Membership Chair, Jen Fisher, this past December 2015. Make sure to check your inboxes for your notice or renew here today!

The PHA Clinical List Serve

The PHA Clinical Listerve has been a great value to PHA members, especially of late! Here are some of the highlights of recent happenings that have been shared between members...

-Pregnancy And Parenting Workshops

The UCSD Reproductive Mental Health Clinic is happy to announce that they are now offering (very affordable) pregnancy and parenting workshops. The workshops are held weekly and are open to all members of the community. Topics include:

  • Nurturing and Growing your Relationship After Baby Arrives
  • Parenting: Surviving the First 6 weeks
  • Mindfulness and Relaxation During the Perinatal Period
  • Coping with Infertility

Thank you for sharing this resource with clients and colleagues.

For any questions regarding the courses please email Chelsea Haakmeester

-Bi-annual workshop on April 30 in La Mesa on Strengthening Brain Pathways for Children. The workshop is grounded in neuroscience and focus on the development of a child’s brain, specifically at how interactions shape the architecture of the brain. Strategies that you can apply immediately will be provided. To register visit:

-New Support Groups Announced in Rancho Bernardo

Mindful Mamas Postpartum Support Group

A home for postpartum mothers to get weekly support, tools, and resources in a group setting. We will address adjustment to parenthood, managing anxiety, depression, and stress, and develop skills with a mindfulness orientation.

Wednesdays 1:00-2:00pm beginning May 2016


Facilitated by Melody French, PsyD, and Andrea Knox, LMFT. For questions or to enroll, contact Dr. Melody French: or 619-786-3111

Mothers in the Making Group Series for Expectant Mothers

A five part series providing support and education for expectant mothers in the transition to parenthood. We will process fears/expectations, gather information and resources for life post-baby, develop a sense of mother identity, and create individualized postpartum plans.

Fridays 3:30-4:30pm, May 20th- June 17th 2016

$40/session ($200 for series)

Facilitated by Andrea Knox, LMFT. For questions or to enroll, contact Andrea: or 858-442-0465.

-Positive Parenting Class for Parents of Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers

-Learn how to support and nurture your young child’s desired behavior, reduce problematic behaviors and enjoy your child more

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 9:00AM—4:00PM

Topics covered will teach parents how to nurture and change their child’s behavior while fostering a more enjoyable relationship.

Please Contact:

C A R A F A I R F A X , L C S W



C A L I S C # 2 6 5 5 6


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