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Oh  Baby! Prioritizing Perinatal Mental Health
Mental Health

Oh Baby! Prioritizing Perinatal Mental Health

By Alice White, LCSW
Posted: March 25, 2024

One of the biggest life changes in a person’s life is becoming a parent. Seven months ago, I became a first-time mom, and as a counselor, I was extra aware of my perinatal mental health. Postpartum Support International defines perinatal as the period “all around” birth, meaning throughout the pregnancy and into the baby’s first year of life. Roughly 80% of parents experience the “baby blues,” which is common and usually lasts 2-3 weeks. Postpartum Support International estimates that 15% of women develop postpartum depression, and 10% of women develop postpartum anxiety. Men are also impacted by perinatal mental health issues. It is estimated that 1 in 10 dads are affected by postpartum depression. 

The Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

You may know someone who is pregnant or recently added a new little one to their family. Below are common signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum. 

Depression Symptoms: 

  • Feelings of anger or irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Appetite and sleep disturbance
  • Crying and sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Constant worry
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
  • Inability to sit still
  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea


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Perinatal Support and Help

If you know someone who is showing signs or symptoms of perinatal mental health issues, you can first offer them emotional support. Encourage them to talk about their thoughts and feelings, assuring them they can share everything without judgment. Next, you can offer your time to help with household chores or cooking so the parent can rest or have a meal. Fatigue and hunger can contribute to worsening of symptoms. Lastly, keep communication open by checking in with the new parent.

The Employee Assistance Program is a great place to start when you need extra support during the best and often hardest times of this new phase of life. Postpartum Support International—PSI offers a hotline phone, online support groups, and an online directory of providers. Postpartum & Perinatal Mental Health Resources (The Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee) offers various local and nationwide resources. 

If you or a loved one need support during the perinatal journey, we are here to help! Contact the Methodist Healthcare Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 901.683.5658 or visit

Alice White, LCSW

Alice White, LCSW


Alice White is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Certified Employee Assistance Professional who has experience working with clients with anxiety, depression and crisis situations. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Southern Mississippi. Alice is a native Memphian who began her career in Memphis at Youth Villages. Alice is currently licensed in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. In her spare time, she enjoys taking her dog on walks, reading, and going to concerts.

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