Maternal Mental Health


While pregnancy often elicits many positive emotions, it can also cause a woman to experience negative thoughts and feelings. During pregnancy, past family issues, insecurities, relationship difficulties, and financial issues can become real and immediate concerns. A woman who is expecting may find herself experiencing mood swings, fear, anxiety, forgetfulness, or body image issues. Women who experienced depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant may be more likely to experience mental health concerns during pregnancy. When mental health conditions do occur during pregnancy counseling can be an effective tool for decreasing symptoms during pregnancy as well as preparing for a healthy post partum period.


Approximately 15% of mothers develop Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, or Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Unlike the “baby blues”, these feelings intensify with time and may not go away on their own. If you or someone you know is exhibiting the following symptoms, please know that counseling can help:

  • Recurrent and regular crying spells
  • Frequent-irritability
  • Recurrent angry outbursts
  • Not wanting to be with your baby
  • Fears of harming yourself or the baby
  • Feelings of inadequacy as a mother
  • Severe fatigue
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Feelings of overwhelm, hopelessness or despair
  • Loss of appetite or dramatic weight gain
  • Excessive worrying
  • Obsessing about the baby despite reassurances from family, friends, and/or professionals
  • Nightmares or flashbacks regarding traumatic childbirth or other previous trauma


If you are having problems, you have probably asked yourself many times, “Why me?” The most important thing to remember is that this is not your fault. The causes of postpartum difficulties are varied and complex and include biological changes, psychological influences and relationship factors. In fact, it may be a combination of all three that is affecting you.


If it has been 2-4 weeks since you had your baby, and your problems are getting worse, you may want to seek additional help. I specialize in postpartum adjustment. My approach combines support, education and a mind/body approach to counseling. I often work with women and their partners in the recovery process because postpartum difficulties affect the whole family.



Heather McMillen, LPC
2016 Mt. Vernon Ave Suite 303, Alexandria VA 22301

Email :
Phone : 202-352-8950