How to find a therapist . . . for postpartum women

There are only about a million articles written about how to find a therapist. What to look for -experience, degrees, licensure – and who to ask – friends, your doctor. Those are the basics.

I think postpartum women have a few more requirements that are important to consider. Let me tell you a story. A friend of mine knew at 10 days postpartum that there was a problem. She called a local specialist in postpartum depression who told her that she needed to join a therapy group and that the baby wasn’t welcome in session. This was a 10 day old . . . that she was nursing. Her baby couldn’t go more than about an hour and a half without nursing. She woud have a half hour drive from her house, an hour and a half during group, and then a half hour drive back. That would be two and a half hours away from a newborn.

Those of you who are pregnant and reading this may ask, “what’s the big deal?” Those of you who have had a baby have probably gasped in horror by now.

My friend did not go to that therapist, but the story continues. She saw a psychiatrist who was not familiar with breastfeeding and told her she would have to wean to go on antidepressants. My friend had breastfeeding information in her hand, printed out, and the psychiatrist refused to look at it. She refused to wean her baby and found another psychiatrist who would prescribe something safe for breastfeeding. There are antidepressants safe for breastfeeding, but that’s another blog!

If you’re desperate at the moment of reading this, please contact your local La Leche League leader for a list of safe antidepresants.

When looking for a therapist, postpartum women should consider a couple of factors:

  • Is the psychotherapist close enough to your house?
  • How long will appointments run?
  • Does the psychotherapist allow you to bring your baby with you into session?
  • Is the psychotherapist supportive of nursing and the nursing relationship if you are choosing to nurse?
  • Does the psychotherapist understand the demands of new motherhood? 

If the therapist doesn’t allow your baby in session and you still really want to see them but just can’t figure out how to work it out with a newborn, consider taking your partner or another caretaking person with you to attend to the baby in the waiting room.  

It’s really important to find a therapist who understands not just motherhood, but the overwhelming changes that come with new motherhood. You shouldn’t have to leave your baby for extensive periods of time or wean them to overcome postpartum depression.

Even if you’re just having some difficulties adjusting to new motherhood or dealing with a difficult delivery, the same applies. Find a therapist that you feel understands and is willing to work with you, not against you.


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