Are you a Supermom? Wonder Woman? Goddess?
I know I am not! A few years ago, however, another mom called me a Supermom when I volunteered at my then 7 year old's classroom. I had really mixed feelings about her comment. I had taken half a day off from my full time job to be there. So I guess that’s commendable? She meant well and I felt proud of myself for juggling things at work to be there and happy that my son was happy. But I also felt a shadow of doubt creep in that day. I don’t want to be held to that impossible standard, put on a pedestal of parental perfection, and have only one way to go...down…FAILURE.
Isn’t that the fear from the beginning?
...that our birth plan will go horribly wrong.
...that our baby will not latch and we will have to give up breastfeeding.
...that we will have so much anxiety about being a good mother.
...that we will feel guilty for going back to work.
...and feel guilty for not going back to work.
We are damned if we do and don’t, aren’t we?
It doesn't have to be this way. The expectation to be a Supermom goes hand-in-hand with Mom shaming and guilt. Let’s stop this madness. We aren’t super, wonderful, or god-like most of the time. We are just doing our best. Let’s start supporting each other, not setting ourselves and others up for failure. Let’s remember that we do have powers - they just may not be super. We have the power to (1) pick our priorities, (2) pick our battles and (3) pardon ourselves and our loved ones.
(1) PRIORITIES: I might have seemed super to that mom that one day because I seemed to be doing it all: Working fulltime and still helping in my son’s classroom. But that was just one priority that I set that particular day. I think she is super for keeping her house so clean and for being such a marvelous baker. She is, because she makes that her priority, and that’s great. I am the mom that buys the cake from the store, even if my kids beg to bake. Pick the priorities that work for you, let go of the rest, and compliment others for their choices!
(2) Picking our battles is certainly a super power. My kids get upset if they can’t bake that cake, or miss one birthday party because we have other plans. We can’t do it all, all the time - it’s simply not possible. We have to be firm and pick our battles. Explain to your kids, your spouse, (even your boss), what you can and simply cannot do. Your kids will forget about that cake or that birthday party in a day. They will love you for being there and for being their loving mom, even if the cake is store-bought.
(3) The last super power, pardoning ourselves, is the hardest of all. Our kids will forgive us if we miss that one birthday party or one school play because of work. Why can’t we forgive ourselves? Pardoning ourselves and our loved ones is challenging. Forgiving mistakes, however, is one of the keys to staying calm and avoiding guilt. When I see my kids baking with my mother or my husband I don’t get down on myself for not being a baker, I am very thankful that they get their needs/wants met! And that is super!
When I am not seeing clients in private practice I am an assistant professor and research psychologist in Cedars-Sinai's OBGYN department. I am proud to have been recently interviewed about the PPD Screening, Education and Referral Program that I helped initiate this April - see local story HERE. The first step in getting help is identifying the problem! #Postpartum #Conejovalley
One thing I love about my career is that I get to wear many "hats." At times I don a "research hat", other times a "teacher hat" and sometimes a "therapist hat", and I find immense satisfaction and pride in all of these roles.
For three years I was a professor of psychology at Miami University (in Ohio) teaching undergraduates Abnormal Psychology and Health Psychology and more recently I taught an upper level Women's Mental Health course at UCLA. For several years I was primarily a therapist and worked at the Veterans Affairs Administration working with newly returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. All the while, I was conducting some level of research, basic or applied (clinical), and I always kept writing. My most recent manuscript was just published in the September issue of OBGYN Survey. Feel free to flip through the paper HERE - the focus is on the importance of screening for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) in Obstetrics and Gynecology settings. I am very passionate about educating OBGYN physicians about PMADs and how to treat/heal the whole woman, not just her uterus! Feel free to print and share it with your OBGYN!
On Nov. 30, 2016, Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.) announced that her maternal mental health legislation, the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act, passed in the House of Representatives. On the following Wednesday, it passed in the Senate. The bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide federal grants to states for the purpose of screening, assessing and treating PPD. The grants would allow states to create, improve or maintain programs around maternal mental health and help women who are pregnant or recently gave birth.
"For too long, stigma and outdated attitudes about mental health have kept moms from getting the help they need," said Clark. "It’s past time that we turn the corner from stigma to the sound medical science that tells us postpartum depressions is common, it’s diagnosable, and that treatment benefits the entire family. This is a victory for families, and we’re looking forward to strengthening this program in years to come."
Read more HERE!
Thank you very much for visiting this website. Perinatal depression and anxiety have long been under-recognized and under-treated. Some national recommendations have come out recently to help change all of that!
Read more HERE!
Dr. Accortt in the News
August 2021: AirTalk KPCC Radio, The History of C-Sections, The Significance We Put on "Birth Stories" And How It Impacts Mental health
(fast forward to 13 minute mark)
July 2021: AirTalk KPCC Radio, Why Women Have Long Kept Early Parts of Pregnancy a Secret and the Arguments For Moving Away From the 12-week rule
(fast forward to 28 minute mark)
July 2021: Los Angeles Times, Postpartum depression on the rise, especially for women of color, during COVID-19 pandemic
October 2020: The Candidly, PMDD Affects Millions Of Women. So Why Aren’t We Talking About It?
October 2020: Cedars-Sinai Discoveries Magazine, A Real-Life Stress Test
September 2020: Cedars-Sinai Blog, Infertility and Mental Health
July 2020: Cedars-Sinai Newsroom, Reproductive Psychology Program Focuses on Mother and Family Wellness
May 2020: Hawaii News Now, Sunrise, How to Prevent Anxiety & Depression Before and After Giving Birth
April 2020: The Bump, How to Spot Postpartum Depression in Your Partner or Friend
12/3/19: Quartz, Ten questions about mothers’ mental health could promote resilient pregnancies
5/10/19: CGTN America, US comedian uses her act to turn the spotlight on postpartum depression
5/1/19: KTLA News, How One Comedian’s Battle With Postpartum Depression Turned Laughs Into Legislation
3/20/19: KFI News Radio, FDA Approves First Drug for PPD, Brexanolone (Zulresso)
Winter 2019: Cedars-Sinai Discoveries Magazine, Stop The Stigma
9/11/18: USC Center for Health Journalism, Cedars-Sinai PPD Screening Program May be Model for State
Summer 2018: Cedars-Sinai Catalyst Magazine, The Helping Hand of Los Angeles Funds Postpartum Depression Screening Program, scroll down to page 40 of magazine
5/18/18: TODAY.com, Alyssa Milano on Postpartum Anxiety
5/3/18: Cedars-Sinai Maternal Mental Health Research
10/19/17: Cedars-Sinai Postpartum Depression Screening Program
3/24/17: MomCo. App for Social Support
Dr. Accortt is a California licensed clinical psychologist. When she isn't seeing patients in private practice she conducts research in the OBGYN department at Cedars-Sinai. She will update this page with important maternal mental health news and research.