October 13, 2012
Cheryl Jazzar, MHR is the founder of WellPostpartum Consulting. She has supported thousands of new mothers since 1998. Her background is in psychology, counseling and women’s studies with a Master’s degree in Human Relations. I recently interviewed her for my blog. I hope you find the interview as informative as I did.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? My husband and I are homeschooling parents of four wonderful kids. I run WellPostpartum Consulting full time while traveling and shuttling my kids to their various activities. I am a survivor of both a terrible psychosis for which I was hospitalized for 6 weeks, and a severe postpartum depression. I have since had another child and experienced a great postpartum period with very little symptoms. I’m grateful that I haven’t used any psychiatric medications in over 18 years.
I’ve studied alternative health for 20 years, ever since I realized my first baby had chronic ear infections. I was extraordinarily skeptical of what I felt was “hippie medicine”. Boy did I learn otherwise when my daughter’s ear infections stopped abruptly. She had been suffering for over a year.
2. How did you first learn about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis? When my first daughter was nearly 2 years old I was hospitalized with a brief-reactive psychosis. It was horrible- I lost everything including custody of my baby. Interestingly, that episode was linked to mercury exposure from dental materials and a now-banned body building supplement containing Ephedra and Mau Huang. I felt I was “damaged goods” for some time. When I met my new husband we quickly became pregnant and I suffered with a severe, lethargic postpartum depression.
3. Why did you decide to focus your attention on helping women who are dealing with mental health issues related to childbearing? When I first looked for help for my own PPD I quickly found local support through Postpartum Support International. The woman who helped me knew about supplements and natural progesterone, so I asked her to explain how and why they worked. That day my husband brought me what she had suggested and I felt a great deal better. For some time I thought that reaction must have been a placebo effect- nothing could work that quickly. I learned about a handful of alternative practitioners who use similar methods during PSI conferences. One therapist, a former PSI president, told me she sees that reaction regularly among her clients who choose to use nutrients to address their symptoms.
4. What helped you overcome your own experience with postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis? Of course, the fact that using nutritional supplements and natural progesterone helped me so quickly was wonderful. It led me to become curious about how many people knew how effective these methods were; and why they worked so well. I began to research all known data on the subject and blogged about my findings at WellPostpartum.org.
5. What services do you offer through WellPostpartum Consulting? I serve women who do not wish to use psychiatric medications at the international level. I offer The Ultimate Pregnancy Program to address past birth trauma, lower risks of common pregnancy complications, provide natural fertility support and also help women find care providers who will respect their wishes.
The Mother’s Renewal Program provides information on specific nutritional supplements and hormones typically lacking in postpartum women, a lifestyle review to address causes of nutrient deficiency and hormone imbalance, and referrals to supportive resources. The majority of my clients turn around within 3 or 4 days of starting the program.
The Well Mother’s Circle is a private support group for women who are incorporating lasting changes into their wellness routine. Most of these women are profoundly aware of the pain and stigma associated with perinatal mood and anxiety issues, but they experience freedom in knowing about the biological roots of these illnesses, and overcoming them.
6. What message would you like to share with mothers and families facing mental health issues related to childbearing? There are options. Research shows us that up to ½ of all moms with PPD are opposed to the use of psychiatric medications for one reason or another. Some will not seek help at all if they feel medications are their only option. Many will suffer in silence- or get worse.
These issues are truly not a woman’s fault. Americans regularly suffer from subclinical nutrient deficiencies. And, as humans we are constantly assaulted by environmental toxins that impede wellness. This can become painfully apparent during pregnancy when biological challenges come to a head.
7. How has your professional experience/expertise helped you in your own life? One main help has been finding roots to my own illness through years of research into the etiology of mental illness. This, in turn, has helped me become a better provider to many women by realizing various underlying issues that may be contributing to their illness. I knew I was called to do this work within a few months of my recovery. Nearly 15 years of supporting women has been a gift for me, personally, as the joy I get in return when women recover quickly can never be quantified.
8. What are your top 3 tips for moms facing mental health issues related to childbearing?
1. Buy top quality prenatal, or postnatal vitamins that separate the minerals from the iron. If any of us goes to the cabinet right now and looks at the amount of calcium and magnesium in their prenatal; they will be very surprised. When I realized all the problems with prenatal vitamins, I actually cried because I knew how important nutrition is to mental wellbeing. My choice is: After Baby Boost by Sound Formulas. http://www.soundformulas.com/cgi-soundformulas/sb/ref.cgi?storeid=*2808b2a9ae7c77512fba9eb644a27d061850c0f790be&name=wellpostpartum
2. Address general toxicity of the body before becoming pregnant, starting with the mouth. Toxic heavy metals like mercury, present in most “silver fillings” block the absorption of minerals, making growing a baby that much harder. On average, fetal cord blood has nearly 300 toxins in it according to a study by The Environmental Working Group. Clearing the body has a direct impact on our health, and that of our babies.
3. Hire a doula. The world of childbearing can be compared to a minefield. I can say that as a person who has heard countless horrifying, traumatic birth stories for many years. A doula can help a woman get both the birth that she wants, and the postpartum care she deserves. The information doulas provide can be invaluable.
9. Is there any other information you would like to share? Bringing a baby into the world is a profound experience that is firmly of the physical realm- and also a 100% spiritual endeavor. It will change you in ways you never imagined possible. God Himself has blessed you with a baby by creating a family for you. Don’t try to do it without His help and guidance. The Message version of Psalms 127:3-5 says don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb is His generous legacy. Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
10. If anyone is interested in more information, how can they follow-up with you? At WellPostpartum.com women can take The Emotional Wellness Quiz for prompt care from a compassionate consultant. My direct email is firstname.lastname@example.org and our toll-free number is 888-886-1962.
Cheryl, I thank you for taking the time for this interview. You are offering much needed services and alternatives to helping women facing mental health issues related to childbearing.
Thank you, Jennifer. You are certainly doing the same by your work on this blog. Keep it up. You will never know how many lives you will bless.
The interview questions are prepared by Jennifer Moyer for her website/blog and answers are published on her website, www.jennifermoyer.com, with permission from Cheryl Jazzar, MHR.