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  • Jane McKinney

Maternal Mental Health

May is Maternal Mental Health (MMH) month. It is observed every day this month, but especially on Mother’s Day, which is this Sunday, May 12. At A Balanced Life LLC, this month is especially important to us because of our work with pregnant women, postpartum women and moms of all ages. Nearly 25% of women who are pregnant or who have recently had a baby suffer from depression, anxiety, or another treatable mental illness, so it is crucial we take care of the moms in our lives this month and every month.  I recently participated in a five-day intensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for families and couples, during which we spent time working on our own attachment systems, helping each other go deep into our own attachment fears, needs, and longings. We communicated these feelings of vulnerability and then experienced being safely held, seen, and understood. And, as a result of the EFT model of facilitated emotional repair, many of us experienced healing.  Moms represent the essence of attachment, needed by babies and older children, spouses and other loved ones—and they, too, need to be seen, heard, and healed. This is the hope we hold for all of our clients: that they may experience deep emotional healing and feel that they are seen, heard, and understood.  After the five intense days of training, feeling exhausted—that good kind of tired after hard work—I craved a mental break. And so I turned on “Baby Mama,” a movie written and directed by Tina Fey, starring Fey and friend Amy Poehler, in which a single, successful corporate career woman who desperately wants to have a baby (Tina Fey) hires a surrogate (Amy Poehler) who brings a completely opposite life experience into Tina’s world. These women are different on many levels, but by the end of the story they are changed by each other’s desire to become a mother and become chosen family.  My daughter and I used to watch this movie and laugh together. Thinking about my own mothering experience and the kind of woman my daughter has grown into made me take a second, more serious look at Baby Mama. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the iconic Saturday Night Live comedy duo, defy female stereotypes. In Baby Mama, they give us an unapologetic portrayal of multi-faceted womanhood and motherhood.  Society is full of the same complexity when it comes to explaining what it means to be a woman and a mother. There are mom groups, women’s groups and movements, and efforts to bridge both identities. Maternal Mental Health strikes me as one of these efforts, focusing on individual mental health, while also considering the impact and needs of her unborn child, infants, other children, partner, and family as a whole.  As Mother’s Day approaches, it is an opportunity to celebrate every woman and mother in all aspects of life—from suffering and loss to prosperity and fortune. Our hope is that no matter your path, you know that you are enough. Take good care,


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