When Pregnancy Is Not the "Happiest Time of Your Life"
I was honored to be featured as a therapist with Better.com. Find the original article here.
Jamie Kreiter is a Chicago-based therapist who treats clients with postpartum depression and anxiety issues around fertility, pregnancy and parenthood. She is partnered with Better and recommends our services to her clients and we wanted to learn more about her practice and how she uses Better to give her clients more access to treatment.
1 in 7 Women Feel Like This
Jamie is a Chicago native who began her practice in New York (which she continues using teletherapy) but has just returned home to Chicago. Jamie trained at the University of Chicago and began working in a hospital as an OB social worker, helping with pregnant and parenting teens in the postpartum department. This became her great passion. She describes herself as a maternal mental health specialist.
“My specialty is the treatment of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. I work and treat women through the reproductive life story. Sometimes it’s not just the pregnancy or the post-partum period that women are struggling with and it can involve wondering whether to start a family, family planning or infertility issues.
According to April Dembosky from KQED, 1 in 7 mothers suffer from depression after pregnancy but 78 percent do not receive any mental health treatment. Dembosky quotes Dr. Laura Sirott, a Pasadena OBGYN.
Sirott said her patients give a range of reasons why they don’t take her up on a referral to a psychologist: “‘Oh, they don’t take my insurance.’ Or ‘my insurance pays for three visits.’ ‘I can’t take time off work to go to those visits.’ ‘It’s a three-month wait to get in to that person.” (Kaiser Health News)
Jamie knows that a lot of postpartum depression goes unreported and adds that many women are reluctant to seek treatment for another reason.
“There’s a stigma and shame around issues of mental health and especially when it comes to parenting and motherhood there is the expectation that this is the “happiest time of your life”, but it’s not for many people. Having a newborn baby is really challenging.”
Beyond the Baby Blues
Jamie explains that there is usually an adjustment period of two or three weeks after the birth of the baby.
“Over 80 percent of women experience some kind of hormonal change that we describe as the “baby blues” when women’s hormonal balance is changing rapidly back to a pre-pregnancy change. It's normal for women to feel a bit overwhelmed, exhausted, tearful, emotional; those symptoms should go away within two weeks.”
However, for some mothers, the symptoms do not go away.
“A lot of women who come to me are not feeling like themselves but they don’t quite know what it is. They may still be very emotional, crying a lot, angry. I see a lot of hopelessness, guilt and shame, mothers feeling overwhelmed or worthless.
Jamie’s practice focuses on treating these symptoms. The good news is that postpartum depression (and other anxiety conditions around motherhood) are highly treatable.
“The way I start treatment is to say,
“I want you to feel like yourself and as quickly as possible.”
"It’s hard to put up a timeframe on it but I’ve treated women for several weeks, they feel better and move on. I’ve also treated moms who stay with me for years after, sometimes into their second babies; we may no longer be working on postpartum issues but therapy can be a nice space for a mom to feel that she’s being taken care of.”
“There’s Something Therapeutic About Better”
Often we talk to providers, not just because we want to learn about their practice, but because we want to know how Better helps their clients and practice. Jamie is one of the most eloquent on this subject. Like all private pay practices (she is on one insurance panel) she is aware that the cost of therapy is a barrier to treatment and even more so for mothers.
“Women feel they can’t spend that money on themselves. There’s no time, money or energy to take care of mom. They are so hyper-focused on the baby.”
Sensitive to these stresses, Jamie wants to offer as much access as possible to her clients, and Better is one tool that can help.
I usually have a conversation about Better at intake or earlier. I’ll say, “I don’t accept your insurance but you can get reimbursed by your health insurance company – I partner with an app called Better who will act as a third party to help with those payments. Also, I explain that you guys are on my website, that you can access Better from there or the App Store, and that you take a small fee, only if my clients are reimbursed. If they don’t get reimbursed you don’t charge anything.
She also sees Better as part of the wider conversation with her clients and part of the therapy process.
“Better takes the stress out of therapy for clients and the insurance conversation. It’s so difficult to navigate health insurance. It is the last thing you want to do or to try to do when you are in crisis. Better serves as a helpful guide, especially for mothers who are responsible for so much, who do everything, it’s great to have someone do something for them. There is something therapeutic about it. As much as we don’t want money to be part of a therapeutic relationship, of course it is. For me, as a provider, it’s nice because I can take a step back from the money conversation. I know my clients are in good hands – I can focus on the treatment.”
She even ended our interview with what she described as a “note to other providers”.
“I have a nice partnership with Better. I like the values of the company. They are a trusted resource that I can collaborate with.”
Thank you Jamie!
Our thanks to Jamie Kreiter for her all her amazing work with mothers and parents In Chicago. We’re very excited about continuing our relationship with her practice and her clients!