PPSM Baby Brain; Emotional Wellness in Pregnancy, Postpartum and Parenting

Perinatal Education with Jodi Haas of Amma Parenting

November 21, 2022 Lindsey Hanka Season 3 Episode 5
PPSM Baby Brain; Emotional Wellness in Pregnancy, Postpartum and Parenting
Perinatal Education with Jodi Haas of Amma Parenting
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Lindsey and Jodi discuss how perinatal education supports community building, shared decision making, and improves outcomes for pregnant people and their families. Jodi is the Director of Prenatal Education, New Parent and Prenatal Teacher, Workshop Coordinator. She is interested in all things birth, but also really interested in the newborns and their brain development in that first 1000 days - it's so fascinating!  She has have been a nurse since 2001, most of that time she spent in labor and delivery and postpartum.  Her most favorite job is being a mom to my 4 children ages 17, 15, 13 and 10.  She loves watching them grow and learn new things!

Learn more about Amma classes and resources at https://ammaparenting.com 

All Amma teachers are either Registered Nurses, IBCLCs, and/or Lamaze or ICEA certified Childbirth educators.

Follow on instagram at @ammaparenting and on Facebook at Amma Parenting 

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Speaker 1:

Hello. Hello, this is Lindsey, and I am so excited. Today we're gonna be interviewing Jody Haass, who is the director of prenatal education for Ammo Haring. Hi, Jody.

Speaker 2:

Hi. Thank you for having me, Lindsey. Appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

Oh, so excited. Um, and so just right out of the gates, I'd love to learn a little bit more about how did you come into perinatal mental health? What was that journey for you?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I had, um, I have four children, and my first was born in 2005. Um, we had had, uh, early miscarriage before that. And so I came into, um, into parenting, very grateful and very happy to be pregnant and, you know, be full term. And everything went great with my, with my pregnancy, with my first there. And, um, I ended up, I think having a little bit of postpartum depression, like mild depression, but it was not ever a diagnosed. Um, I didn't meet any criteria. Um, I didn't really know the right questions to ask my provider, you know, things like that. I was the first of all of my friends to have children, and, um, just thought it was normal. And so I, I felt better about after a year and, um, kind of went on. I had, um, baby number two was fine, baby number three was fine. And then baby number four, um, ended up being born premature. And, um, that was a whole nother journey to go through with him. And he had medical issues, and I ended up with postpartum anxiety, and I had never had anxiety before in my life. So it's something very new for me to experience. Um, and it was, it was like a, um, a physical anxiety, but I also had some, uh, worries too. But I remember just waking up every morning thinking like, oh my gosh, I have to go give this like, big, big speech, you know, like for this huge auditorium and just this awful feeling in my gut, you know,<laugh>. Yeah. And, um, like I had to go perform and, um, it was just horrible. And I was just wrapped up all the time. I had heart palpitations. I, um, every time we had to go to a nicu follow up visit, I press, you know, in the elevator and my heart's just like,

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And, um, I, you know, was trying to be like, well, I, I've had three other children. I'm a mom, I can do this. I am a nurse, I can handle this. You know, all of these kind of things like self-talk. And one day my husband, um, we were in the kitchen and my husband came out to me and he said, Jody, um, if you do not call your provider today, I'm gonna call him. Wow. And so, yeah, I said, okay, um, that means I should reach out for some help. Right. Um, I think I was just really overwhelmed and trying to do everything myself. I was exclusively pumping. I had this schedule going on and everything. I was like, well, if I, you know, if he's in the nicu, I gotta make sure that he's getting breast milk. And, um, so anyways, I, I called my provider and, um, got some great resources, um, started taking medication and felt a whole lot better. Um, I also let people in, um, let a village in of people to come and help me too, and accepted that help people had offered help, but I was kind of like, uh, I'm fine. So letting people in to help was really, really helpful. So that's kind of how, what my personal experience with that. Yeah. Um, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Oh, thank you for sharing, isn't it? Um, isn't it wild? It's like you can have resources available, but until you actually let them in and utilize them and really have that acknowledgement in yourself of like, this is something that I need, this is something I deserve, I deserve help. Um, it's, it's that, that switch is so important. Um, I'm so glad that you were able to, to get the support that you needed. It sounds like a wild experience and one I can relate to. Um, yeah. Thank you for sharing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. And I just, and I really have to, um, attribute that all to like my husband for giving me a little kick and say, Hey, you know, I feel, you know, the people that you live with probably are gonna notice things about you that, you know, like other people maybe wouldn't notice. Right. Yeah. So that was, that was really helpful. And that for me too, personally, has been helpful just to pass on to other people too, to say, Hey, check in with one another. How are you doing? And have some serious conversations because, um, sometimes that's where gets started. So

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's, that's such great advice. Um, thank you. And so, yeah, I'm, I'm curious, so you had, you know, just varying different, um, experiences with your own children and how did that, how did you end up coming to AMA Parenting, um, and how did that your own experiences influence the work that you do in education with AMA Parenting?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. So I, um, had been working in labor and delivery and postpartum a little bit too, um, for many years. And, um, every, as nurses do, kind of<laugh>, every child, you kind of go down and your hours a little bit. Um, not everyone, but that's what happened with me. And I was looking for something kind of, uh, part-time after I had Joseph. So he was about, my last was about, um, year and a half, two years old. And I thought, well, what could, what else could I do with this labor and delivery experience? I could teach classes. So I looked up at the hospital, I was teach, uh, um, working at, and I said, well, who does the prenatal education here? And it turns out that it's, um, uh, it's not in house. This company called AMA Parenting, um, does prenatal education for our hospital. Hospital. I was like, oh, what's that? So then I started looking at that and I had never heard of AMA before. Um, and so I reached out to them, I'm like, I want a job as a prenatal teacher. And they said, okay, come talk to us. And these three lovely women, I thank them so much, they know who they are. Um, talk to me and brought me in and said, well, we don't need a prenatal educator, but we need a new mama teacher. I was like, well, what's that<laugh>? Tell me more. And, um, uh, it just sounded fabulous. Um, and I sat in on my first class and I just remember sitting in this circle of, you know, seven, eight other moms, and they all had their tiny little babies, their postpartum and those early weeks, they're kind of like in this little cocoon space. And they were sharing about their experiences and, um, you know, what's working, what's not working? And, um, I was like, this is the best thing ever.<laugh>. Everybody should have this. Yeah. Um, so I started teaching as a, as a new mama teacher back in 2000 and, um, 14 is when I started that. Um, Amma's been around for, since about 2007, so about 15 years. Um, and they started with that new mama class, and then they expanded in, into prenatal education. So kind of both on the, you know, um, prenatal and the postpartum side. And, um, I taught that class for, um, uh, a few years. And then, oh, they needed prenatal, um, instructors as well. So expanded, so taught on the prenatal side and the new mama's side, and, um, have really, really enjoyed it. Um, our previous director left a few years ago and I took over her role. So I do, um, the administration, um, things for the, you know, prenatal director and some workshop facilitating. Um, and then I also am very passionate about staying in the classroom. So, um, have been still continuing to teach classes and I really, really enjoy it.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's wonderful. Oh, what a lovely journey, um, to get you there. Like such an organic, like as, as your career evolved, um, you're evolving with AMA Parenting. That's wonderful. Thank you. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And so, and I really, I'm sorry, going back to your question too. Yeah. You know, how did my experience kind of help me? I, just knowing that like, not every baby is the same, not every pregnancy this is the same. And just, um, having those personal experiences and challenges, I think like when you have challenges, we grow, right? And we learn new things about ourselves. And so I thought, well, I think that made me a more compassionate person. Um, and just more understanding, I ended up volunteering, um, in the NICU for, um, parent like peer support, um, as well. And that was, um, really helpful and um, kind of healing for me too to help, you know, help other parents that are in the nicu. Um, but at Umma it's been really, really helpful just to help other moms get their start and be with them in that, in that space. Um, cuz it's something I never had. Yeah. Um, so it's just, it's a really, really great resource.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah. Something that you said, I, I really love that idea of the volunteering that you did in the nicu, how that's healing. Cause I think that when you get into that pure relationship, it really is a mutually heal healing relationship, and it can help you rewrite your story. And we are learning so much about how perception of the childbirth experience, the postpartum experience impacts parenting. And so being able to have a mutually healing relationship with somebody, you can almost rewrite that story and see how far you've grown, um, by helping someone through where they're at currently. So that's, that's wonderful. Thank you for sharing that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so, um, I should have asked this, um, before, but can you tell a little bit about, um, a parenting? So, I mean, we know, um, from what you shared, um, AMA is, um, does prenatal classes, um, and they're associated, um, with, um, different healthcare facilities. Can you share a little bit about, um, what AMA parenting is for those that are not aware?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. So like I said, um, we, you know, were started about 15 years ago, um, with a nurse midwife that identified, um, that we need support from moms in that early postpartum time. And so she started having, you know, just groups of moms, um, gathering and talking about postpartum and, you know, what are the big topics like, um, newborn sleep and, um, pairing their mood and anxiety disorders and, um, baby blues, um, relationships. How do they change after having a baby? And, um, so that's how we got our start. And then decided, you know what, we could probably help even more families if we provide prenatal education too. Cause really it's like we want everyone to enjoy being parents. Yeah. Right? Like, that's, that's the goal. So, um, our thought is if we can get you more information, more knowledge, you're gonna have a better birthing experience. Um, you're gonna be more involved in your decision making as you go along, you're gonna feel better about it no matter what the outcomes. Um, and we can hopefully get you a better start, um, you know, on that highway of parenthood college sounds like, yeah. Everyone, like they have a baby and they get on this highway of parented and you're like, on this highway, and you're like, this is the best thing ever. And you're watching all the other people in the lane next to you and you're like, you have a baby too. Oh my gosh, this is so awesome. Right? I mean, it's challenging mm-hmm.<affirmative> and you're sleep deprived and you're learning something new about your baby every single day. But it's the best thing ever. And that's the majority of people, right? Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, so we're, we're just there to support people through like the, um, the ups, the downs. Um, there's gonna be families that they get on that highway and they accidentally get off on the wrong exit. Yeah. You know, and they're down there in like this bad neighborhood and they're not enjoying it. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. And so those are the families that, you know, like myself, we're experiencing, you know, postpartum anxiety or depression or obsessive compulsive disorder mm-hmm.<affirmative>, post traumatic stress, you know, all these things that are in that bucket. Um, and so we provide education to, um, tell them, Hey, there's resources out here and these are the statistics, you know, these are the statistics. Um, this is normal and it's highly treatable, um, just so people know about it. Um, I also like spreading the word about, um, paternal, you know, postpartum depression and anxiety for partners because that's, um, something that's not always talked about. Yeah. Um, and I even have had moms in class that have said, you know, I think my partner is struggling, and if I wouldn't have come to a prenatal class and it wasn't even brought up, um, I wouldn't have known that was even a thing, um, to seek out, you know, um, support. And so it's, um, so yeah, we're providing that education, we're providing the support, um, and the, you know, prenatal and then the, the postnatal little cocoon time too, so, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I,

Speaker 2:

I should say too, we have, um, you know, other classes we have like infant CPR classes, um, that American Heart Association teachers come in and teach that. Um, as part of our education, we have workshops, we have different experts, um, out in the, out in the field, like, you know, infant sign language and infant massage and baby led. We like things that parents are interested in that they can come back and get education with us as well. So that's kind of ama in, uh, in a nutshell,

Speaker 1:

<laugh>. I love that. And, you know, I, um, I really appreciate the focus that AMA Parenting has in the prenatal period as well. Um, and so it's not just in that, um, that cocoon period as you described. Um, you know, as, as someone who works in labor and delivery, it's, it's, it's not the time for education, right? When you're actually like in labor. And the same thing with postpartum. You know, that immediate postpartum period in the hospital is not necessarily the time for education. Um, it's a great time for reinforcement, it's a great time to share resources, but really kind of getting into things is not necessarily, the mind isn't in a state where it can really process things. And so really being able to grow your education, grow your understanding as you're growing a baby is so beneficial. And then to have a resource that reinforces that education, it makes a huge difference. And, um, I'm sure you can, um, attest to this as well. People who have gone through different prenatal education, they have a lot more flexibility, a lot more awareness, um, throughout the labor delivery and post immediate postpartum period, whether that's in a hospital or birth center, or even home birth, um, when you have that individual education, um, individualized education, I should say. So I think that's really wonderful that you guys do that. And I'm so proud of the different organizations that have brought you in and have actually made it a resource that's available to people, employees, because that's, I mean, that was the first way that I heard about AMA Parenting as it's Okay. Um, an org Yeah. It's through my employer has, um, a partnership with AMA Parenting. And so that was how I first got a little bit more involved, um, and aware. Um, so I think it's, it is really wonderful, so thank you.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes. And we're, we're continuing to try and spread the word about that as well, because we feel like if, um, employees are supported, right, um, with these benefits of being able to go to prenatal classes, postnatal classes, um, that they're just gonna do better overall, right. As a family, if, um, the moms, the dads partners are all supported, um, then like they can even, you know, they can come back to work and feel more supported, um, and have the resources that they need. Um, so it's, yeah. Yeah. We're trying to make it more accessible for, for people, so, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I'm curious in, in the work that you've done throughout, um, throughout your career, but really specifically in, in teaching, what is your experience and can you speak to how prenatal and postpartum education, uh, adds as a, a protective factor towards, um, uh, peripartum mood disorders? Is that something that you've experienced? And if you could, um, share a little bit about that, that would be wonderful.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So, um, I guess on the prenatal side, what we really, um, stress in our birthing classes is coming up with a postpartum plan. Um, even if everything goes great, right? Like pregnancy goes great, birth goes great, um, your feeding journey goes great. It's everything that you planned. Um, still things can come up, right? And so, and everyone, like I said, deserves to enjoy being a parent as much as possible. So we really encourage parents to think about like, what do I do right now? Like during pregnancy for my mental health? What can I continue postpartum? What are the things that I need for self care? What about my, um, relationship, who's in my village that I can, um, bring in to help? Like, we talk about the, the four Ds. So what can I, what should I be focusing on and doing postpartum mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, and that is really just learning about my baby and learning about being a parent and a family together. Um, so that's, that's my goal to do that. Um, and then what can I delegate out to other people? Right? And maybe that's like my, my cleaning or my, my laundry or running errands or go, you know, like doing an oil change in my car or whatever it is. Yeah. Um, you know, can people bring me food? That kind of stuff. What can I defer until later? Maybe there's some things that are just not that important right now that I can, you know, put off, um, and kind of simplify my life right now. And are there things that I can delete that I can just get rid of, um, that aren't that important, um, to kind of like trim things back to just really simplify life during that postpartum time to make it, um, you know, as enjoyable as possible. So I think the prenatal education really does help with, um, you know, helping people to think about that. I think so many parents come into birthing classes thinking about like, just how do I get the baby out? How do I get through this? You know, and they're not really thinking about the postpartum time, which is really, like, I always say birth is just one day of your life. It's a very important day,<laugh> for many different reasons, right? I mean, it is like the physicality of it, the emotions of it. Um, it's the day that you get to meet your baby. So it's, it's, it's a really big day with this huge exclamation on it, right? But, um, it's one day. And so, but then the baby's here, and then we're trying to figure out, you know, the baby and how to be parents and how do we feel about this? Um, how do we feel about our experience with birth? So just trying to like plant the seed for them and those prenatal classes of coming up with a postpartum plan and letting them know about resources, I think really helps to set them up for a success. Um, and then on the postpartum side, we've, um, we also started a new dad's class, um, a couple months ago, and that's been going just fabulously. Oh, how fun. And, um, you know, cuz partners need, uh, support too. Um, and we had tried this, uh, a few times before in our past, but it was always, uh, a mom or a, a female that was, um, uh, facilitating that class. It did go over too well. And now we have, um, two dads that are, um, facilitating and it's going great. So, um, we're, we're, we're expanding past the moms, but, um, so on the postpartum side, we're just, you know, talking about like, what is normal, um, what are the baby blues when just, you know, defining, um, pma, so those perinatal women anxiety disorders, um, letting people know that this is what it can look like. And if you find yourself, I mean, I always tell moms like, you're the only one who knows how you feel, right? And you know what your experience is. Um, and being in a group setting and having people share those experiences, they're gonna compare to other people. And they might have thought like, you know, if they were just isolated by themselves, like I was with my first, you wouldn't know any different. Like, you're like, this is just how it is, right? No, mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, but when you hear other people are like, oh, well that's not really how I'm feeling. You know, those are the people that might be down in that bad neighborhood. They got up on the wrong exit and they didn't even realize it. Right. And so, um, that might just, even being in that setting prompt them to be like, oh, maybe I could be enjoying this more. Or maybe this isn't normal to be like, um, uh, you know, I, I, I know a mom that she just, she had ocd, uh, postpartum, and she started, um, organizing all of her recycles that she never did before. She was rationing water and like, limiting the minutes that people could, you know, be in the shower and things like this. And, um, frantically cleaning and know all these things. And her partners said, um, I feel like we're camping in our own house,<laugh>, what is going on here? You know? Yeah. This is not normal. Mm-hmm.<affirmative>. Um, and, um, she talked about it in class and she's like, maybe this isn't normal. I thought that's just what people did, you know? So, um, just being in a space and sharing experiences and kind of being vulnerable, um, and opening up to like, oh, I could be maybe different, right? Is gonna prompt some, um, some parents to reach out to their providers or to use their resources. We always, um, use, you know, postpartum and, um, uh, postpartum support Minnesota, um, and psi you know, international to, um, to anyways to use those resources.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely.

Speaker 2:

Patients or for, for families. Yeah. Yeah. Went back to my nurse brain for a second.

Speaker 1:

I know, I know. It, it's hard to shut it off. Yeah. Depending on the hat that I wear, it's either patient or client. Um, so yeah. I, I, I understand. You know, one of the things that I, I wanted to just say a thank you, um, to AMA Parenting is I, my personal experience, I feel so lucky and fortunate that with my second, I was a part of one, it was, um, pre covid. Um, so we did a lot of things in person, right? And, um, I was a part of, I received my care through a midwife, um, group that used the centering model of care. And so I had all of my prenatal appointments in a group with people that were delivering at that time. Um, and we were all very fortunate in that none of us got transferred out, um, of midwifery care. We all stayed within the appropriate, um, risk factor, um, for our pregnancy, um, so that we were all able to stay in that group. But that's always stuck with me is what an amazing thing to go through prenatal education. And then we still, we had our postpartum appointments, um, together as well. And what an amazing gift to be able to have that built in community while also receiving care. Um, but how sad that once you get into a situation where you maybe, oh, pardon me, that is my cat. Um, that you may be here in the background. Um, but one of the things that I think is really, um, is, sorry, well, I'm gonna edit this out cause he's, he's just, I'm not sure what he's calling

Speaker 2:

For. It's so funny. Sometimes the cats, like, they sound like children too. Like people, they're like talking Yeah. Yeah.<laugh>,

Speaker 1:

It's so true. Um, but no, one of the things that I think is really sad about something like the centering model of care is that in individuals who have a higher risk pregnancy, um, they might get transferred out of something like that because they're no longer able to receive that midwifery care. Um, and something like AMA Parenting can really fill in the gap there. So you can have, um, prenatal education with a group of people, and some people might be receiving, um, um, care for a low risk pregnancy. Other people might be, um, in a situation where they're, you know, um, twins or, um, whatever it might be, where things are a little bit higher risk. And to be able to have that community, um, where you're not only a part of a group, but you're also exposed to so many other different ways in which, um, birth and pregnancy can go, it's, it's

Speaker 2:

Pretty

Speaker 1:

Amazing. This

Speaker 2:

Is, this is what I think is one of the great things too about that new Mama class is, um, it's completely random. Completely random. And so you could have so much diversity in the class, and people with different birthing experiences, singleton's twins, people that have had infertility issues, they may have had fetal losses before that maybe one of'em had a preterm birth. Um, some, uh, I mean, there's just all these different experiences, right, that come together. But the great thing is, is that motherhood is the great equalizer for all of those things. So it doesn't, like, we don't have to all have the exact same backgrounds or birth experiences or pregnancies. Um, we get to hear a variety of like, oh, this is what motherhood can look like, and this is where people are coming from. And it really opened my eyes too, even though I'd been in labor and delivery and I'd seen many, many types of births, I I, I'd seen many types of, you know, um, patients delivering. Um, but I never got to see what happened afterwards, right. And how they process that, and how that affected them, right? So in the New Mama class, we get to hear everyone's experiences and all the different viewpoints. Um, and it's always a mix, and I love it for that. So,

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's wonderful. Yeah, I think inclusion really does open up, um, people's eyes and, um, their minds and their hearts, and it can really support, um, community building. So I think that's, that's just wonderful. Um, I'm curious, you know, you've been able, you've, you've worn a lot of different hats in your career, and you've been involved in maternal care for many, many years. Um, when you're, I know it's kind of a big broad question, but I like to ask everybody, what is your vision when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum education, um, for the years to come? Both, um, prof, um, uh, personally, um, and professionally?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, I, um, like I said, I would really love to continue to, um, support the partners. Uh, so I think that's, that's a great thing. Like, I, my personal thing in, in classes when I'm teaching classes is like, you know, making sure that there's just awareness around, um, perinatal and anxiety disorders for partners. Um, I, I would hate to have, um, a family where a partner is like, I thought I just didn't like being a parent, you know, and I didn't really understand what was going on. Right. Um, so I always like to make sure that I'm planting that seed. I would love to see more resources for partners, um, and, um, just continuing to give education, um, and normalize experiences and have, have support for, for families, um, you know, for whatever time that they, they need that for. So,

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's wonderful. Thank you. And so how do people get, um, in involved with AMA Parenting? How can they find ama, um, sign up for classes? Um, yeah,

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Um, so they can find us online, uh, at ama parenting.com mm-hmm.<affirmative>, and we have, uh, in-person classes, we have virtual classes on Zoom live instructor, if that works for folks. Um, and we also have prerecorded online classes as well, like that you can just, um, learn at your own pace. So that's, um, prenatal. And we also have, um, for the, for the new MA class, we have in person and virtual support there. Excellent. Um, so there's options. And we're also going to be coming up with a virtual dad's class. We're considering that. Right. Um, yeah. So we're, we're really trying to make it as accessible as possible for people to participate, however it's gonna work for them. Um, and so yeah, they can, they can find us there and if they have any questions at all, we're always happy to help over the phone, um, figure out what would be the best class for you, the timing for it. Um, and we have additional resources on our resource page as, as well, so.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wonderful. And the, the link will be in the show notes, so, um, anyone listening, you can just go ahead into the show notes and you'll find the links right there. Um, to I Parenting. Jodi, thank you so much, um, for this time. It was such a gift to talk to you. And, and thank you so much for all of the work that you and the rest of the folks at AMA Parenting do. It's, it's really incredible and I think it really helps, um, bridge a gap. So, thank you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, thank you for, thank you for having me. Yeah.