Breastfeeding and Mental Health – It’s Personal

The arrival of a little bundle of joy brings heart-stealing smiles along with many opinions and advice about breastfeeding. Undoubtedly, nursing creates a physical and emotional attachment between mother and baby. It strengthens babies’ immune systems, and for moms, can reduce the risk of disease and bring joy and fulfillment. But not always. For some mothers, breastfeeding is extremely painful. Others cannot supply enough milk, which can lead to extreme feelings of guilt. Breastfeeding and anxiety often go hand in hand as infants on breast milk require frequent feedings. The resulting lack of sleep causes stress, which can reduce mom’s milk supply, creating a vicious cycle.  “Feeding and sleep deprivation — which, of course, are connected — are two of the biggest triggers for moms’ anxiety and mood disturbances,” says Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist specializing in women’s mental health, in The New York Times.  Depression and breastfeeding Does nursing reduce the risk of postpartum depression (PPD)? For most new mothers the answer is yes. Yet those who have a negative breastfeeding experience are actually at greater risk for PPD.  Another mental health issue, but one rarely discussed, is post-weaning depression. Once baby moves to the bottle, sadness is common as the feel-good hormones released while breastfeeding drop significantly.  For post-weaning depression and PPD, antidepressants are often prescribed. But what [...]

2022-08-14T21:51:06-04:00August 4th, 2022|Family & Youth, Mental Health, Support, Women's Health|

Let’s Talk About Teen Dating Violence

You’re at a family gathering. Your kids trade TikToks with cousins while you pass out cookies and cider.   Your 14-year-old, John, walks into the kitchen when Uncle Pete yells, “I heard someone has a girlfriend!”   “Oohs” and “aahs” fill the room. John, red faced, spins around to get the heck out.   Uncle Pete calls after him, “You make sure you’re treating that girl right!”    Maybe Uncle Pete is teasing, but what if you took the question seriously:   Is John treating his girlfriend “right?”   Is he being treated “right?”   What does “right” look like? What about “wrong?”  February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. So, let’s tackle some common questions.  What is teen dating violence?   It’s easy to go on the defense - John is your son, he would never hurt a fly. But teen dating violence isn’t only physical.   Dating abuse is a pattern of behaviors meant to gain power over a partner. Abuse can take many forms: physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and online. About 1 in 3 teens experiences some kind of dating abuse in the United States. In teen relationships, abusive control could include:  Telling a partner not to spend time with friends or family  Asking them to repeatedly skip activities to spend time together instead  Needing to know where they are always  Accusing [...]

2022-02-02T11:35:18-05:00February 14th, 2022|Family & Youth|

The Evolution of the School Counselor

Growing up as a student in the public school system, there were school community members who were seen as staples of the building. Of course, everyone knew their principal, their teachers, whether general education or specialist teachers, and the nurse. However, there was one community member who often went unnoticed: the school counselor.  During my days as a student, we called them “guidance counselors.” Oftentimes they worked in isolation and solely “guided” students as they prepared to transition from one school to the next. I didn’t need to see my counselors often as it pertained to their role as the counselor; however, because I was involved in many school activities, I came in contact with them quite often.  Although the role of the school counselor today is quite different from the role of the guidance counselor of 20-plus years ago, my counselors – Mrs. Glover, Mr. Deleon, and Mr. Rubin – will always be considered educators who made an impact on my life. It was these three educators who inspired me to do what I feel is my life’s calling. As the profession of school counseling evolved, the role of the school counselor changed. We are more than just “vocational advisors;” we are certified/licensed professionals who work to improve success for all students. No longer are we providing “random acts [...]

2022-02-02T13:27:05-05:00February 7th, 2022|Family & Youth|

Emotional Building Blocks for the Youngest Explorer

How often do we really think about how busy a baby is? The human infant is a marvelous package. If all goes well, the newborn emerges on their birthday with a wonderful set of equipment for exploring, acting on, and adapting to the world they enter. Vision, although initially limited, gradually expands to colors and to greater distances. Hearing may be a bit muffled at first, but gradually improves. The basics of taste, touch, and smell are also there.  Combined with what appears to be aimless exuberance in wriggling arms and legs, these senses and motions make an infant as busy and as great an explorer of a new world as any we learned about in history. This exploration involves not only the physical world, but also the emotional and social world. Lately, many have focused more on school-aged children and the demands and crises they face.  However, it’s important to remember that to cope with difficult times in life, all children rely on emotional lessons they started learning from the day they were born. It’s important that in those early days parents, caregivers, and other significant people in infants’ lives be loving teachers, guides, and models for the skills that babies are developing, even if it’s hard to see that development from day to day. Here are some important [...]

2021-11-18T16:36:31-05:00December 1st, 2021|Family & Youth|
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