About LGBTQ Perinatal Mental Health
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Thankfully, mercifully, I continue to expand in my awareness of just how magnificently varied we are as human beings. We show up in so many surprising, incredibly colorful ways, truly a rainbow of incarnations of humanity. I love learning and opening my mind to all that we encompass as individuals and as a species. As my awareness expands, I'm more sensitive to terminology used to describe the primary population we serve at Family Tree Wellness. I realize that much of the material I write and publish has to do with "moms" and not all people on the reproductive path identify as women or as moms. I’m intent on expanding my inclusiveness and adjusting my language to create a safe and welcoming presence for all.
That said, the word "mothering" continues to feel important and useful to me. In my definition, mothering is not specific to gender and instead pertains to the act of providing nurturing from a trusted and consistent caregiver to a dependent person.
Anyone can provide mothering.
Mothering is so crucial to healthy human development.
I continue to describe our area of specialization at Family Tree Wellness as “Maternal Mental Health”, when perhaps it would be more respectfully inclusive to say we work with “Perinatal Mental Health”, because some people who get pregnant and give birth do not identify as women and therefore the word “maternal” may not be a fit. Describing our focus as "Maternal Mental Health" is limiting, as birth trauma, anxiety, depression, mania and psychosis affect many people other than the one who gives birth, (other than mothers) - including dads, partners, grandparents, children and our larger communities. Family Tree Wellness is devoted to supporting all people affected on the reproductive journey. So how about using the word "perinatal" rather than "maternal"? I appreciate that "perinatal" refers to a specific developmental period of time and not to gender. But the general population isn't always familiar with the meaning of that word. So, for now we continue to use the term "maternal".
The work we do here at Family Tree Wellness is tailored to meet the needs of our clients. We understand that when humans endeavor toward and through reproduction, life gets intense. Physiology, identity, emotions and spirits are wildly affected by all that’s involved in the entire transformative range of parenting. Wanting to have a child, trying to conceive, discovering there’s a pregnancy, being pregnant, losing a pregnancy, losing a baby, birthing a baby, parenting a newborn, transforming into mothers and fathers…this is arguably the most important stuff of our lives. It deserves tenderness and sensitivity. As people on the reproductive path, we deserve educated, kind practitioners who adjust to meet our needs.
My intention is to continue in this commitment to inclusiveness so that I’m a participant in a culture where all people get to feel at ease in their own skin, safe to seek support where needed, welcome in this country and at home on this planet.
Please let us know how we can meet YOU as the individual that you are.
Written by: Jessica Sorci, LMFT