Warning signs and resources for local families struggling with postpartum mental health

“It’s like a slowly slipping down like a rabbit hole. Before you know it, you can’t scream to get out,” said Canton mother Katie Pierce, remembering the darkness of postpartum depression in the months after her son Benjamin was born.

After struggling to find help, Pierce said she turned to postpartum doula Kimberly Melody of Serene Baby Care in Bridgewater.

“We can be an ear and we have like an ‘in’ with resources, or we can find a way to help that can make all of the difference in their day,” said Melody, who is certified in postpartum mental health.

Boston 25 News reached out to Melody and several other area experts in this field for more information about postpartum concerns.

Mental health experts say at least 1 in 7 moms experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, and though each case is different, there are some common signs, that you need support.


· Anxiety that feels different

· Uncontrollable crying

· Inability to bond

· Can’t get out of bed

· Symptoms last more than 2 weeks

“If you’ve had anxiety before, but this feels different. I think that that’s a warning sign,” said Caroline Flowers Tomekowou, a perinatal therapist and Director of Counseling Services at the Mass College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in Worcester.

“If you’re finding that you’re uncontrollably crying, that you’re feeling like you’re in a hole that you can’t get out of if you’re not really bonding with your baby or you feel like you just can’t or don’t want to, or you just can’t get off the couch or out of your bed,” are other signs Melody pointed out.

“Those symptoms lasting for two or more weeks, qualify for a diagnosis of major depression,” added Dr. Leena Mittal, a psychiatrist and Chief of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Any time there’s a thought about hopelessness or not wanting to be alive or thoughts of harming others, that’s really an emergency. And that should be something that somebody should reach out to their provider or emergency services right away.”


When it comes to possible treatments, the professionals we spoke with say it’s not a “one size fits all” approach.

“Psychotherapy is certainly a treatment form that can happen at any level,” said Flowers Tomekowou.

Some may find group intervention or therapy is helpful. Others may consider having a medication conversation with your provider.

“I say a medication conversation because nobody is going to force anyone to take medication, but it is an intervention that has and is very helpful. And you and your provider will make that decision together. So medication conversation is just that. And it’s education based on how it could be helpful depending on your symptoms,” said Flowers Tomekowou.


Talking with your doctor or pediatrician at a well-visit is a great place to begin connecting with resources the professionals told us. Many work with the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program or MCPAP for Moms.

The group works to find the right services to match your needs, based on location, financial situation, access to insurance or not, race or language, and whether or not you have twins or multiples. They say much of the services offered are free, to prevent any barriers to access.

Postpartum Support International of Massachusetts or PSI is another resource. You can call: 1-800 944-4773 or text: in English: 800-944-4773 or text en Español: 971-203-7773

“They do lots of online group programing. So there are resources like those that are all over the place,” said Dr. Mittal.

The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is always just a call away, with trained counselors ready to help at 1-833-943-5746 OR 1-833-9-HELP. You can call or text that number as well.

The professionals encourage families to make the call.

“Don’t feel ashamed. If you need any kind of support,” said Melody. Nothing is too small and nothing is too big for people in mental health industry to handle.”

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