Postpartum Health Alliance

May 2016 Newsletter

Save the Date for the PHA Spring Social!

Thursday, June 9th, 5:30-8:30pm

8262 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard

San Diego, CA

Join Postpartum Health Alliance members and other perinatal providers in San Diego for an evening of networking at our Spring Social.

Light appetizers will be served.

Beer and soda available for purchase.

We hope you will join us!

RSVP at Eventbrite

Questions: please contact

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.

Support Advocacy For PMADS with this year's Climb Out of Darkness Event!

Saturday, June 18th, 9am-12pm

5115 Soledad Road

San Diego, CA

Join us June 18, 2016 at Kate Sessions Park in San Diego, California for an easy Climb overlooking a beautiful view of San Diego, followed by our family-friendly After Party, including a picnic, music from Songbirds Music, a family yoga class on the grass, free giveaways (including yoga classes and baby sign language classes), face painting, and fun for the whole family. All ages and dogs welcome!!! Registration is free, but required to attend. No obligation to fundraise or donate! Register at:
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. The registration for the conference is OFFICIALLY FULL but if are still interested in attending or willing to consider viewing the conference via a live stream, PSI is collecting names for a waitlist.

PMADs News and Medical Updates

Featured Spotlight of the Month

Deepening the Conversation: Helping Prenatal and Postpartum Professionals Ask Important Questions

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month—a month dedicated to education and awareness of perinatal women and their mental health. I feel it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the path we’ve each taken as professionals, to arrive at this point in our lives and careers.

Whether you're a doula, midwife, lactation specialist, mental health provider, or other birth-oriented professional, we each gravitated to the perinatal field for a reason. I'd venture to say you’ve had a personal experience that has touched your life, directly, indirectly or a combination of the two. Something powerful and meaningful ignited your passion for working with perinatal women and their families that set this leg of your career in motion.

Personally, I was quite ignorant to the issues of maternal mental health when I first looked it right in the face. This likely wasn't my first brush with a struggling mother, but it touched me deeply. It was after college and I was traveling through Guatemala. I was in a rural mountain village waiting for the rain to clear so I could hike a famous volcano. It was the rainy season, so I wound up spending several weeks waiting out the rain while studying weaving and living with a local indigenous family.

The eldest daughter, Maria, was 18. She was a single mother with a three-year-old son, Daniel, who she carried in a sling on her back wherever she went. He was disabled and couldn't walk, talk or feed himself. I learned from others in the community that Maria had tried to abort her son, taking homemade concoctions and pills to no avail; the result was his disabled state. She hid her pregnancy from friends and family until weeks before he was due to arrive.

During my stay with her family, Maria was evidently pregnant with a second child. The father of that child lived in a neighboring village with his family. Their relationship seemed tense and Maria wore signs of that on her face. I quietly noted her anguish, her pain, though I said nothing.

Her story remained with me when I returned to the U.S. months later. I had a fire burning inside. Eventually I enrolled in graduate school intent on increasing access to medical and mental health for women in Latin America. I soon realized there was ample work to be done right at home in New York City. And thus began my work in maternal mental health.

I wasn’t confident enough or trained in the signs, symptoms, or risk factors for developing Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) back in 1999 when I met Maria. Today, however, in addition to maintaining a private practice, I provide educational trainings to other perinatal specialists. I've become acutely aware of how intimidating it can feel to professionals who don't have a degree in mental health to ask these hard questions. Practitioners talk of their insecurity and uncertainty about how to ask vital questions without being perceived as intrusive, how to carefully word their inquiries, and how to empathically express their recommendations for mental health when a client reveals that she is struggling. There's little doubt that these hard questions need to be asked, but how to do so remains a question for many.

The May Campaign (May 2-6, 2016) launched Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month. This year the focus of the campaign was on the importance of bringing the conversation from baby, back to mom, to #AskHer: how are you doing? How are you feeling? Are you sleeping?

Here are 5 recommendations for ways to increase your confidence and to #AskHer those difficult questions and provide the support she needs.

1- Screen her!— Not only is Prenatal and Postpartum screening for depression recommended by the U.S. Task Force for Preventative Services, but screenings open up a dialogue between you and your client. The screening itself acts as an intervention that normalizes the prevalence of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. By asking questions, you let her know that her mental health is important and valued. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and the Perinatal Anxiety Screening Scale are both free and widely available for use.

2- Develop a list of resources where you can refer your clients. Make sure you know several doctors, psychiatrists and therapists who are sensitive and trained in perinatal health. If you don’t know anyone—join the Postpartum Health Alliance here in San Diego and develop your network. If you’re outside of San Diego, connect with your local chapter of Postpartum Support International .

3- Get more advanced training. Did you know that Postpartum Support International (PSI) offers an online certificate program in Maternal Mental Health? PSI’s annual conference will be in San Diego this June—an opportunity to immerse yourself in the latest research, treatment and recommendations around issues related to perinatal mental health. Pre-conference events include the 2-day certificate program as well.

4- Trust your intuition. If you think something isn’t right, you’re probably correct. But don’t forget to #AskHer. Karen Kleiman of the Postpartum Stress Center has developed many valuable tools that are free to the public, including “Are You Asking the Right Questions?,” which you can download here.

5- Believe in your ability to help. You chose this work because you are passionate, caring and dedicated. Your empathy is your most precious gift. Listening: verbal and nonverbal communication skills count equally. Let her know you hear her, that you care, that she is not alone, and that with help she will feel better.

Rachel Rabinor is a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 15 years of clinical experience. She maintains a private practice where she specializes in maternal mental health, including: infertility, perinatal loss, pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders and early parenting.

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!

Blue Dot Project Recognized!

Blue Dot Project was busy this May during Maternal Mental Health Awareness month. We are excited and grateful for our friends in California Department of Public Health in Yolo, Santa Clara, and Humboldt counties. Each county's MCAH department created their own renditions of the Blue Dot to represent their unique communities. Peggy O'Neill's vision for the Blue Dot is exemplified! Have you ordered your Blue Dot?

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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

-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



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