The act of growing, nurturing, and birthing another living being remains one of the most mysterious and affirming acts of humanity, but being a new mother while maintaining an identity and navigating daily challenges can be one of life’s greatest hardships. Millions of mothers have walked this path, yet society is quick to diagnose their challenges as character flaws or a weakness in their capacity to love.
Karen Kleiman, a licensed clinical social worker, holds a different belief: she argues that postpartum distress is normal—and should be normalized more in our society. She also believes more therapists need to be trained to work with postpartum anxiety and depression. She founded The Postpartum Stress Center in 1988 in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and has written several seminal books, including This Isn’t What I Expected, Overcoming Postpartum Depression, and Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts: A Healing Guide to the Secret Fears of New Mothers.
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Ryan Howes: How did you became interested in postpartum work?
Karen Kleiman: When I had my own babies and had to stop breastfeeding because of a medical complication, I didn’t know whom to ask for help. That’s when I became aware that the needs of postpartum women were falling through the medical cracks. You can ask your mother for help, or your sister-in-law, but you may not get the best advice. You can ask your doctor, but she’ll send you to a pediatrician,…