Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prep Work

When the Penn State scandal broke, among the many other thoughts and reactions that came to mind, was a comment made in one of the trainings I’d conducted just a few weeks earlier. One of the attendees, a therapist, was speaking about the work her client did to prepare for having a baby. The client was a survivor of child sex abuse and was about to become a mother herself.

New moms can experience PTSD resulting from a variety of traumatic situations – from the past or throughout the pregnancy and childbirth experience. Learn more here. This young woman had worked with her counselor on the possible triggers – from labor and delivery, to beginning breastfeeding, to the stresses of sleep deprivation and how that may affect her. And I thought, WOW. That work is equally, if not more, important than making sure the diapers, sleepers and other supplies are ready to go.

Yes, truly, nothing can prepare you for the experience of becoming a mother. But how about thinking ahead about particular stresses and at least plan for emotional support (someone nonjudgmental and reliable to lean on) in addition to the practical support (who’s helping with the baby care)?

Then that got me thinking about preparing for the holiday season. What are the things we think about? Cards? Gifts? Decorations? Perhaps we should also consider how our minds and bodies react to a longer to-do list. Less sunshine with more awake time spent in darkness. The increased presence of the extended family. Greater strains on the family budget. Cooking. And so on.

As you make your holiday preparations, put your own care – time for self, sleep, connecting with supportive others – right there at the top of EVERY list. And check it twice.

It’s okay to reach out for help. That’s why we’re here. www.poemonline.org

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