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On May 1st, World Maternal Health Day, I sat down with Dr. Pooja Lakshmin to discuss the mental health challenges that often come with giving birth. Dr. Lakshmin, a perinatal psychiatrist and bestselling author of Real Self Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths not included). 

In our Tea & Policy episode, Dr. Lakshmin breaks down some of the societal factors that worsen maternal mental health conditions, which are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Spoiler alert: The lack of paid leave in the United States (the only high-income country in the world that doesn’t offer it) is part of the problem.  Drawing from a Swedish study, she highlighted how fathers having 30 days of paid flexible parental leave lowered mothers’ anxiety prescriptions by 26%. However, Dr. Pooja didn’t just leave us with statistics. She also lays out principles that birthing people can apply in their lives to improve their mental health. Think of them as sustainable strategies for managing the emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy and postpartum life. 

Dr. Lakshmin notes that these methods are not necessarily easy to implement given the guilt we often feel as mothers for not living up to every standard imposed on us but, as she says in our discussion, “Just because you feel guilt doesn’t mean you’re making the wrong decision. Guilt does not have to be your moral compass.”  

Excited to dive deeper? Click on the link below to catch the full conversation and to find resources and tools to help us address the maternal mental health crisis.


Here are some resources to get you started:

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