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When Postpartum Packs a Punch offers solace to mothers who have faced traumatic birth and perinatal mood disorders. Within the book is a chorus of different voices—parents, experts, and researchers—singing the same song: while the U.S. has made strides in caring for new mothers, we still have far to go. Stigma silences women, and blinds those on the sidelines. Stories of others’ struggles are an antidote for stigma, because they let mothers know that they’re not alone.
Kristina Cowan describes her own experience with traumatic birth and postpartum depression, and weaves it together with accounts from other parents. Representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives and underscoring the prevalence of mood disorders after childbirth, these narratives serve as a balm. They help heal and stir hope. And they show how an overcoming spirit can fight terrors of the mind—and win.
Praise for When Postpartum Packs a Punch
"Journalist and debut author Cowan explores postpartum depression (PPD) and other birth-related mood disorders in this informative yet personal text. After her first baby was born, Cowan was steeped in sadness; motherhood was not proving the joyride she had expected. The author sought help, finding it in a mixture of antidepressants, therapy, and her religious faith. Inspired to investigate further, she gathered the stories of other mothers suffering from postpartum disorders. (Interestingly, like the author, a number of women interviewed for the book went on to help others after experiencing PPD themselves). Cowan alerts readers to symptoms, risk factors, and neurochemical causes; outlines common therapies and medications; and defines the five major perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum psychosis, a rare but serious condition. She also shares the stories of dads who have faced paternal postnatal depression. Talking about the issue and sharing experiences, the author notes, are important ways of addressing a subject often buried by shame. This powerful and useful book will be a boon for women facing any of these devastating postpartum disorders." (Publishers Weekly)
"If you were only able to read one book on postpartum mood disorders, make it this one. Kristina combines the most helpful research, an honest memoir, and a variety of stories to make this a thorough and engaging read. She spoke to the experts, she read the articles and books, and she bares her own soul to teach the reader how important it is to understand these three aspects of the postpartum experience: evidenced-based care, lived experience and personal stories. This is an important work for those who are on their healing journeys and the clinicians that are working to facilitate wellness."
—Lita Simanis, licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of the pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorder program at Alexian Brothers Women and Children’s Hospital
“Most books on perinatal mental health do not give a full chapter to trauma related to childbirth. Kristina Cowan interviewed the leading experts in the field and the chapter on birth trauma is beyond excellent. It is informative, accurate, and provides hope to anyone who might be struggling with this difficult experience. I appreciate the information she provides on the recommended treatment. This exceptionally written book should be recommended to anyone working in the field of perinatal mental health.”
—Shannon Kane, postpartum therapist in Alberta, Canada
“‘First I had a baby. Then I felt crazy.’ Such a powerful and poignant beginning to this important book on postpartum illness. What Kristina Cowan offers goes way beyond the courage of sharing her own and other personal stories. When Postpartum Packs a Punch speaks the language that postpartum families long for; it is rich with compassion, hope, and much-needed resources. This book is hugely informational, it is comforting, it is healing.”
—Karen Kleiman, MSW, LCSW Founder of The Postpartum Stress Center, and author of Therapy and the Postpartum Woman and The Art of Holding in Therapy
“If there was ever a book for fathers to educate themselves about perinatal mental health, it is this incredible book.”
—Mark Williams, Founder of International Fathers Mental Health Day, speaker, author, and campaigner
“Are you feeling the punch of the postpartum period? Many new parents do. But in her book, When Postpartum Packs a Punch, Kristina Cowan helps the reader understand the scientific and personal sides of this often-unanticipated problem. This well-researched and well-written book can help you see that you are not alone in your struggle, and that there is help.”
—Dr. Jonathan S. Abramowitz, Clinical psychologist, professor, and international expert on OCD and anxiety disorders
“Like a thunderclap on a cloudless day, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders upend a woman’s vision of herself as a mother, as a person. With unflinching honesty, Kristina Cowan chronicles her odyssey through the heartbreak of depression following her son’s birth. Using her story as a backdrop, Cowan weaves a tapestry of other women’s voices, those who love them, and those who treat them. This enlightening book uniquely describes the history and development of international treatment models, which are finally being adopted and adapted in this country, serving up hope, inspiration, and reassurance.”
—Dr. Margaret Howard, Director of the Day Hospital and Women’s Behavioral Health at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island
“Kristina Cowan’s book, When Postpartum Packs a Punch: Fighting Back and Finding Joy, is a great contribution to reliable education and research on perinatal mental health. As are most therapists and advocates, I am careful and protective when I recommend books to parents who are struggling with distress and trauma related to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. I’m also determined to share evidence-based research in the field with providers and researchers. Cowan puts her expert reporting and expressive skills to work here, and the result is a resource that is informative, hopeful, and motivating. Including the subject of post-traumatic stress as a common perinatal mental health issue is just one example of the unique contributions in this book. We need more resources like this—using clear evidence to help families and providers improve the landscape for perinatal mental health. The information and personal excerpts empower families, as well as providers and policy makers. Together, and with solid information like this, we can make the landscape easier to travel, and our ability to care more effective. Cowan writes, ‘Changing the way PMADs are discussed, both formally and informally, is crucial. ... By saying, “I’ve been where you are, and it’s awful. But I got through it, and so will you,” we show new mothers they’re not alone.
We offer hope, which is the heart of this book.’”
—Wendy Newhouse Davis, Ph.D., Counseling & Consultation, and executive director of Postpartum Support International
Kristina Cowan started writing when she was 5. Years later, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and these days she covers mental health and women’s issues. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two young children.
When Postpartum Packs a Punch is her first book.
Author: Kristina Cowan
Total Pages: 274