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May is Maternal Mental Health Month, and although we tend to hear a lot about postpartum depression, as our guest today has pointed out, perinatal distress is really a spectrum of reactions. Childbirth and new parenthood are major life transitions that involve many physical, psychological, and practical changes. These changes may interfere a little or a lot in a mother’s ability to function optimally and, in turn, affect her relationship with the child and the child’s development. Today’s global crises, including climate change, the pandemic, and war, can add an additional layer of stress so normalizing the experience is more important than ever.
Our guest is public health expert Jennifer Barkin, Ph.D., M.S., a Professor and Vice Chair of Community Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mercer University School of Medicine in Georgia. A biostatistician and psychiatric epidemiologist, Dr. Barkin was formerly an analyst at the University of Pittsburgh’s Epidemiology Data Center, where she designed the Barkin Index of Maternal Functioning (BIMF), the first patient-centered wellness assessment tool focusing on mothers’ daily lives during the first year after giving birth. She is a peer reviewer for journals including Archives of Women’s Mental Health and serves on the Board of Directors for Postpartum Support International, Georgia Chapter.
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