The anticipation of having a baby is often regarded as a joyous event in a couple’s life. Yet, the transition to parenthood usually involves profound transitions and challenges in the couples’ intimate relationship. Further complicating things, the perinatal period is when women are most vulnerable to mood and anxiety disorders, with perinatal depression being the number one medical complication of the postpartum period. Thankfully, a brief intervention has been developed to strengthen couples’ relationships called The Before Baby Relationship Checkup. It’s offered during pregnancy to help ease the transition to parenthood and reduce the risk of perinatal mood disorders. We’re excited about this new service for new mothers and are “chick chatting” with Dr. Ellen Darling to learn more.
Who is Ellen Darling, PhD?
Dr. Ellen Darling is a clinical psychologist in Providence, RI, specializing in couples therapy, young adult mental health, and perinatal mental health. She holds a PhD from Clark University, where she trained at the Center for Couples and Family Research. Dr. Darling is passionate about guiding couples through challenges, including intimacy difficulties, alienation, communication impasses, chronic conflict, infidelity, parenthood issues, and other periods of transition. She practices Integrative Behavioral Couple Therapy (IBCT), an evidence-based approach that identifies patterns that keep partners disconnected and, in doing so, offers new possibilities for empathy and change.
What Did We Discuss?
We chat with Ellen about the Before Baby Relationship Checkup in this episode. This checkup is a couples intervention specifically designed to address maternal mental health by screening pregnant women for early detection and decreasing primary risk factors. Here are several of the questions that we covered:
- What is perinatal depression, and why don’t we hear much about it?
- What are some of the risk factors for perinatal depression?
- If untreated, what are the risks beyond pregnancy for a woman with perinatal depression?
- How does a relationship play a part in maternal mental health?
- Tell us about the Before Baby Relationship Checkup. What is it, and why do pregnant women need to know about it?
- What does the relationship intervention consist of?
- How are the results of the checkup addressed, and what are the next steps?
- How can couples benefit from participating in a Before Baby Relationship Checkup?
- Why is early detection important when it comes to maternal mental health?
- What can couples do to strengthen their relationship before having a baby?
- How can a spouse support a mother experiencing perinatal or postpartum depression?