Hope in the Darkness: Keys to Supporting Your Partner Through Postpartum Depression (Featuring Matthew Mangiapane, LMFT)

Empowering Postpartum with Jessi Sletten is an inspiring show for expecting and newly postpartum parents looking to feel prepared, supported, and empowered for their transition into parenthood – without losing themselves to it. Education, inspiration, and support for everything you need to know for your fourth trimester! Watch Live every Thursday 10am MST (Zingo TV Channel 250 & 251)

Featuring: Matthew Mangiapane, LMFT founder of MJM Wellness

In this candid conversation on Empowering Postpartum with Jessi Sletten, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Matthew Magiapan opens up about his personal journey supporting his wife through postpartum depression after the birth of their first child. He provides an insightful partner’s perspective, offering practical tips for showing up, validating feelings, nurturing communication, and turning toward each other during this challenging transition. Matthew and Host Jessi Sletten, delve into the added complexities of navigating perinatal mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss the importance of building a support village, embracing imperfection in parenting, and recognizing small victories. Whether preparing for postpartum or currently experiencing it, this episode offers hope and guidance for partners on how to be a compassionate, supportive, and empowered presence.

Guest Info:

Matthew Mangiapane is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in New York. He has over 14 years’ experience helping families, couples and individuals uncover coping skills they already have to live the life they desire. He is also a devoted husband to his wife of five years and a father to two toddlers and two dogs.
Matthew Mangiapane is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in New York. He has over 14 years’ experience helping families, couples and individuals uncover coping skills they already have to live the life they desire. He is also a devoted husband to his wife of five years and a father to two toddlers and two dogs.

Connect with Matthew:
Podcast: Chat About That With Matt (found on all podcasting platforms)

Show Notes:

Introduction (0:00 – 2:14)

  • Jessi Sletten introduces herself and the show
  • Introduces guest Matthew Magiapane, a licensed marriage and family therapist

Matthew’s Background and Personal Experience (2:15 – 4:04)

  • Matthew shares about his work and experience with clients
  • Discusses his own experience with his wife’s postpartum depression after having their first child

The Challenges of Postpartum Depression During the Pandemic (4:05 – 9:54)

  • Matthew describes the added challenges of navigating postpartum depression during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Highlights the importance of taking breaks and coming back to difficult conversations
  • Emphasizes open communication between partners

Supporting Your Partner Through Postpartum Depression (9:55 – 22:20)

  • Strategies for partners to show up and be supportive
  • The importance of being seen, heard, and validated
  • Building communication pathways and nourishing the relationship
  • Recognizing signs that a partner may be struggling

Seeking Professional Help and Therapy (22:21 – 35:07)

  • Addressing the stigma around therapy
  • Tips for finding the right therapist and building a comfortable therapeutic relationship
  • Acknowledging that therapy may not be a perfect fit initially

Breastfeeding Challenges and Impact on Mental Health (35:08 – 45:35)

  • Matthew and Jessi share their experiences with breastfeeding difficulties
  • How breastfeeding struggles can contribute to postpartum mental health issues
  • The importance of validation and removing pressure around breastfeeding

Building a Support Village (45:36 – 49:40)

  • The partner can’t be the only support system
  • Identifying community resources and building a support network

Embracing Imperfection in Parenting (49:41 – 53:09)

  • Learning from mistakes and giving yourself grace
  • Recognizing small achievements and steps forward

Work with Jessi:

Empowering Postpartum Coaching guides new and pregnant moms through the transition into motherhood so that they can bond with their baby without sacrificing their own self care. If this sounds like the support you desire for your own unique journey into parenthood click here to learn more!

Episode Transcript

Jessi Sletten  0:24  

Hello, this is Jessi Sletten, from Empowering Postpartum. And welcome to the Spanglish World Networks on ZingoTV channels 250 and 251. Please remember to download both the ZingoTV app on the respective app stores on iOS and Android devices. And while you download make sure to rate and leave a comment, the app is totally free. ZingoTV is also available on Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire, fire sticks, Roku and Roku sticks, and on all smart TVs, 2016 and forward. And again, welcome to empowering postpartum with me, Jessi Sletten, your postpartum empowerment coach, helping you feel confident, prepared and holistically supported for your unique journey into parenthood. And on today’s episode, we are discussing a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, and that is how to support your partner through postpartum depression. And I’m joined today by licensed marriage and family therapist, husband and father of two, Matthew Magiapane. Good morning, Matthew.

Matthew Magiapane  1:27  

Good morning. Almost “Good afternoon” for us here.

Jessi Sletten  1:30  

Oh, that’s true. I know. There’s so many different time zones that I get to speak with wonderful people in and I half the time I’m like, I don’t even I don’t even know what time it is.

Matthew Magiapane  1:40  

Srill feels like the morning here.

Jessi Sletten  1:42  

Exactly. But we’re here. Right. So that’s all. So um, you know, I just want to thank you again for joining me today. And I really look forward to shedding light on this really important topic in the realm of perinatal mental health, and especially being a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder survivor myself. And I know that you have some personal history with this topic, as well. So I think to start us off, I would love for you if you feel comfortable, to share about your own personal journey, as well as a little bit about the work that you do.

Matthew Magiapane  2:15  

Sure. So thank you again, for having me, I think it’s gonna be really wonderful to have this conversation with you. And I’m looking forward to it too. So I am, as you said, a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist, I work with all different clients, from individuals, couples, families of all ages, I have some experience working with foster care kids in the system here, teaching independent living skills I’ve worked with, with veterans who’ve been through different conflicts or different wars, and have come back with PTSD and all these other issues that have affected them so greatly. And I currently also have a private practice where I’m working with specific people for really any issues that come up. And when it comes to depression and postpartum depression, we have experienced it ourselves. I’ve been married to my wife, Kimberly for five years now. It’ll be six years this September. So we’re still going strong, which is Yeah. And we have two little kids, we have a four year old and a two year old Michael and Nicholas. And when we had Michael, we were both in our mid to late 30s, when we had him and late 30s Once we had Nicholas. So it was it was our first child for both of us. And there was a lot that came with it and a lot of stress and anxiety and a lot of symptoms of depression for both of us, but much more for my wife, who was not only experiencing something that I can never say that I’ve experienced myself personally, but had everything involved with the physical and the mental health and the emotional changes that happened going through the entire pregnancy, and then everything after the fact, it was very challenging for us and challenging for her. So thankfully, we were able to see our way through that. But it was it was a tough journey. And thank God, we have wonderful kids now, and we’re all on the other side of that. But there was a lot of work that had to go into getting us through that. 

Jessi Sletten  4:05  

Yeah, I can imagine. And I think when we were kind of doing our, you know, introductions to one another, when you applied to be on the show, and everything you had mentioned that and just the age of your your son that it was through the pandemic too. It sounds like and so that added, I’m sure this layer to the complexity of the experience of the postpartum journey for both of you. And I know that we saw a lot of spikes, and we’re continuing at a higher level of seeing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders elevated since the pandemic. And so I think that this is a topic that’s super relevant for many, many new parents. And it’s a topic that doesn’t get discussed as much I believe, as the actual person experiencing, you know, that mood and anxiety disorder. We don’t often get to hear the perspective of the partner and I think that, that’s why this episode is going to be really special because I think not only can we kind of give some perspective about what it was like going through that as the partner, and even, it sounds like experiencing some of your own mental health struggles through that as well. But what we can do as partners to help support our significant other who’s experiencing this mental health crisis, and really what we can do to feel more empowered through that, and maybe get a little bit more hopeful about, that we can get on the other side. So I’m super excited for us to have this discussion. And, you know, to kind of open it up, I’d love to get your perspective on what are some things that partners can do, to show up and be truly supportive, and in ways that maybe don’t seem as obvious, because I think in some ways, the way we need to support our significant others who are experiencing this, it might be in ways that aren’t as intuitive for us. And so I’d love to get your perspective on a couple of tips, or things that you could call out for these partners who are watching today. 

Speaker 1  6:06  

Sure, sure. The main takeaway from anything that I discussed here was that not everything happens overnight. These things sometimes take practice any new techniques or methods or skills that you’re learning, nothing happens overnight, you can pick up a guitar, and suddenly you’re a guitar virtuoso within 24 hours. I certainly wish I was, but I’m not. And it’s the same thing when it comes to any kind of mental health treatment or any kind of activities that you do or share with your partner or loved ones, whoever it is that you’re trying to work on these issues with. And that’s something that I always encourage anybody to really keep in the back of their mind, because it can get frustrating if you feel like you don’t have that progress right off the bat, or you feel like you take two steps forward one step back. Yeah, and go the positives and the strength, you know, you still took those two steps forward, even if you fell back a little bit, that’s okay, you can always move that course forward a little bit again, and get back to where you are, and even push yourself a little further. So when we experienced and you’re right, you mentioned that our oldest was born right before COVID really kind of hit everything. He was born in October of 2019. And the throws of COVID, were really that March and my wife had been home with him. Thankfully, she was able to take time off of work and had the first few months alone with him. And then we switched because I had the opportunity with my then position as well. And when I was at home with him was when things started to really ramp up. And all of a sudden you’re hearing about everything on the news. And these unfortunate deaths and illnesses and masking and everything. And it was funny because at the time I was I was so involved with raising Michael at the time that I wasn’t so aware of everything that was going on. And then when I returned to work two and a half months later, it was a whole new, whole new world for me that I had to relearn everything I had to relearn how to function in the job. And with that came all of these additional stressors with how to handle raising our child to because daycare wasn’t really an option at that point. And I have family members who could help but they have their own physical or medical issues that made it very difficult for them to come over to our house to help us. And that became a real concern that that me and my wife, Kim had to really navigate and something that we found worked. It maybe not every single time but at least as much as it could help was just being able to step away, just put a pause on things. So if we’re in the middle of a discussion or an argument or a disagreement on anything, but particularly during that time, trying to navigate, taking care of and raising our child and how and as healthy healthily as we could, considering everything going on. If things would get a little heated or a little emotional, we would just put a pause, listen, let’s just step away for a minute. You go take a walk around the block, she’s a big walker, she takes the dogs for walks you know, that’s that’s her thing. I think you can see one of the dogs heads behind me actually. Hopefully he stays quiet. For me, I’ll put on some music. I’ll go sit and like watch a movie for a few minutes or jokingly mentioned the guitar. But that was for a bit. It was a hobby for me to just take my mind off of things and then we come back and reconvene, which is the important thing too, is coming back and actually attacking whatever the issue is, yeah, people can get frustrated and walk away. And that’s the end of it. They’ll hang up the phone or they’ll walk out of the house or they’ll go take a drive somewhere and then they come back and then the unresolved issues are never resolved. And it just builds and builds and builds and, oh boy, do you have an explosion later on. What worked for us, like I said, is is saying let’s just take a pause. Let’s step away. I’m getting upset and owning those feelings to I’m feeling very frustrated. I’m feeling very upset at whatever’s going on. I feel like you’re not hearing me. I need to step away. Give it five minutes. 10 minutes come back. Tensions are down a little bit. Your emotions are a little more in check and then you can really hit those hard conversations a little better.

Jessi Sletten  9:55  

I really love that because I think we tend to you know some of the old advice that I received right when I got married was “never go to bed angry, never, you know, never walk away when things are, you know, in a good place.” And I think that that’s a really harmful advice sometimes because it’s like, you know what, sometimes we need to process what we’re feeling and be able to, like recenter, right, and really get into a more present place where we can hear what the other person is saying, because, like you said, otherwise, we can have these explosions that happen. And if we just keep trying to push through it, are we really going to resolve it? Probably not. Because we’re so up here, you know, in our emotional state, that it’s hard for us to actually think more logically about the other person’s perspective, or how to say how we’re feeling in a way that is heard and received. Because if we’re really, you know, up there, and we’re like, very nitpicky, or we’re blaming a lot, right, and we’re not owning our own emotion. Well, that’s a recipe for immediate shutdown, right? Like, the other person would be like, No.

Matthew Magiapane  11:07  

I’m out of here. 

Jessi Sletten  11:08  

Yeah, exactly. Well, I love that piece of advice. And specifically around, you know, the struggles of there’s so much that goes into the changes in postpartum, right for both, you know, the birthgiver, and a partner. And it is from a physical all the way to a, you know, mental, spiritual, even sometimes, experience of these identity shifts, the changes in the partnership, the understanding of how to share that parental load, especially for first time parents. And, you know, in my own experience, I feel like that added a lot to my mental health state and understanding like, wow, I had no idea how much this was going to change who I was, and make the question about who I was. And then, of course, that made me feel a little bit of distance happening. With my husband and I, on top of all the crazy hormonal stuff that was happening, my body needed to heal, right, all this insanity. And so, you know, I’d love to hear your perspective on how, during those times, you know, instead of turning away from one another, or feeling like this wedge is being built, instead, how can we turn toward one another, and really try to grow together through that kind of experience, and show up as that supportive presence.

Speaker 1  12:29  

We all go through those moments in time where it just feels so overwhelming and so stressful? And how do we get through this? And how do I sleep at night? And how do I get up the next morning and do it all again, right. And it’s, it’s important to recognize not only that we’re going through this, but that our partner is going through this too, even if maybe they don’t seem it or they don’t present it outwardly. There can be those moments where you’re feeling like the world is falling apart, and you can’t get anything in order. And you look at your partner, and it’s like, oh, they look like they’re doing okay, so maybe there’s something wrong with me. I think opening up that communication and making each other aware of what’s going on internally is absolutely paramount to to getting to the root of the problem. When there’s that stress level, especially when you’re in a partnership, or have any people who are helping you with with your children, you need to have that open conversation, and you need to have a trust and that welcoming conversation. And again, even if you have those negative outbursts, they do happen. And my wife, you know, she was willing to allow me to speak about her situation, because she did very much experience the signs of depression and feeling like she was an unfit mother. She wasn’t doing things right. Or even that, that Michael wasn’t bonding with her, which from my perspective, I’m looking and seeing the complete opposite. She’s doing everything she can to care for him. She’s getting up in the middle of the night, we would rotate but we would both be getting up in the middle of the night and changing him or feeding him or taking care of him she would do everything that you would expect any new mother to do. Almost as if she had the handbook in front of her which we know doesn’t exist. But in her in her own mind, she was thinking I was not doing well, I was a failure. I am a failure. I’m not a good mother, or it’s going to affect him for the next 20, 30 years of his life because I didn’t change him fast enough. Or he was crying while I was holding him and wouldn’t settle and, and it was very tough for her. And I think that the helpful thing was me having some awareness of her difficulty so that I knew what was going on and it wasn’t second guessing or wasn’t trying to figure out you know, the little nuances or read between the lines. She was open with me and I was open with her about the times I would struggle to and I think that’s what really helped us connect and get through some of those really difficult moments like those waking up every two hour nights that you have for the first few or the naps that won’t happen, or the fact that after a couple of weeks, I had to go back to work. So she was by herself with him throughout the day is for those first few months. And that was a whole new thing. And then again, it’s more unique to the current times, but having to navigate everything with COVID to and worrying about our family members health, or anybody who would potentially come and help us. Those resources were lost. And we felt very isolated and detached. Even though we can call and video anybody whenever we want. We didn’t have them physically present. They weren’t here, literally with Michael playing with him or, or enjoying him face to face because it just wouldn’t happen. So that even further made things harder, because we weren’t getting that, that positive feedback in person from from the people that we really cared and, and trust and love.

Jessi Sletten  15:54  

Yeah, oh my gosh, yeah. I had my second child through the pandemic as well. He was born in July 2020. So I had my pregnancy through some of it and then gave birth. And that was a whole nother level of anxiety inducing issues, because we weren’t sure like, if at one point, you know, was my husband even going to be able to be in the room with me, you know, I had a doula was she going to be able to be there for the birth, there was all these like unknowns, and during a time where it’s already, so many unknowns, like, especially even if you had another child, each pregnancy, each birth is very different, unique, you know, you’re a different person, physically, each time you carry a new child, and you and you give birth. And so there’s always these like unknowns, and that can really affect our mental health in a way because we don’t have control in this really big time in our life, right. And so I definitely, I can, I can relate to that feeling of just like isolation and worry about what’s going to happen. And, you know, my, my father fell ill with COVID, very early on in the pandemic, and he was hospitalized. And so that was a whole other, you know, just worry, like worrying about family members. And it was just a recipe for a really difficult mental health situation, moving into, you know, the postpartum timeframe. And I think like, even though we’re on, you know, the other side of the big pandemic timeframe, I think a lot of these issues are still relevant, you know, and we still have to think about how we can protect our own mental health and be able to build those relationships. And I love what you said about having that open communication, and really building those communication pathways ahead of time. One of the things I know I work with my clients on in pregnancy, is let’s start, you know, nurturing this relationship and really ensuring that we are building those communication pathways and strengthening those, and working on how we can talk about things that aren’t going well for us in a way that is easier to receive and be heard and all these things. And I’d love to get some of your maybe tips or tricks on how to really nourish those communication skills. And, you know, I know you mentioned, you know, being very willing to be open and vulnerable. And I think that’s one of the big pieces. But I know that like with me, when I was really struggling, it was hard for me to voice what I was feeling. And so I’d love for you to talk a little bit more to about that intuitive or not the intuitive piece, but just that more awareness that you had for your wife and what you kind of noticed, that might help, you know, other partners out there who are like, well, something’s going on, but I don’t quite know what it is, you know, something’s something’s not quite right, or, you know, any tips you have around, you know, one, strengthening those communication pathways and two really what to look for in your partner, when they are maybe struggling mentally.

Speaker 1  19:09  

We all react to things differently. And it always depends on what the specific concern or issue or situation is. So I might get some bad news. And I might just shut my door for half an hour or some people will just completely shut themselves down really for long periods of time. And some people might go about like nothing happens. And internally, they’re really struggling, but they’re not showing it. So one of the biggest things when it comes to navigating that with your partner is is knowing them and knowing how they react to things and knowing that it’s not going to be the same reaction every single time either. If your your partner reacts this specific way for every single instance of something happening, that doesn’t mean that the next one is going to happen the same way especially with something so significant like dealing with any kind of depressive symptoms after a pregnancy or dealing with raising children for the first time, whatever it might be, right? Know your partner and know that you don’t always know how they’re going to be because we’re all human. And it can very much depend on the day, the weather, the temperature, or the time of day. And there’s so many factors that could affect it. And when you have that little inkling, which most of us do, it’s okay to ask, you know, I’m noticing that something’s a little off, or you seem a little down today, you seem a little agitated, that something happened, can we talk about it, and you may not always get that immediate, open, welcoming response, and be okay with that, too, because that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the relationship, that doesn’t mean there’s something necessarily wrong with your partner either. Right, in their own mind, they’re trying to navigate and figure out and untangle what they’re going through. And sometimes they might need a moment, you might just got to step back themselves, and just, you know, I’m gonna lay on the bed for 20 minutes and just read a book or something and get my mind off of this. And then we can talk after I’ve felt a little better. And I think that’s the big thing, too. And maybe I’m talking a little more about myself than I’d like to admit, but really knowing that, that it’s okay to not be able to get through to somebody immediately. Because that’s not indicative of what your entire relationship is, it’s more of just a reflection of what that specific moment or concern is. So approaching your partner reaching out to them, even just that act alone is showing that you’re you’re invested you care, you recognize that something’s wrong, and you want to be there to help them through it. And vice versa, be accepting of them coming to you, if you’re struggling, I think of times where I could get significantly upset at something and I just, I tense up and I’m like, I don’t even want to talk to anybody for the next 20 minutes. Yeah, that’s okay. Leave me alone for 20 minutes, I will come to you and 20, I assure you, but that also kind of wraps itself into that whole trust area too. Because if your partner is saying, I need this time alone, you have to trust them to do that. They’re their own person, they know what’s going to work best for them in that moment. And even if they don’t, that’s okay, this is what they need right now. And then you can again, come back together and figure things out when you’re both in a better state of mind. But be okay with being pushed away a little bit. Because, again, we’re all our own individual person, and we have our own needs. And sometimes we need that space.

Jessi Sletten  22:21  

Absolutely. Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I mean, you know, I think one of the things that and this is speaking personally with my own relationship, but you know, my husband is very action oriented, very like fixer, right? Like he wants to be able to find a solution when there’s a problem. I think we can all relate to that. But, you know, one of the biggest things, and one of the big things that we had to learn together was sometimes there’s no solution, right? Sometimes there’s no way to fix it. And so one of the things that, you know, really worked once we kind of figured out what was going on was just feeling seen and heard about your experience, not necessarily trying to fix the problem, right. And I think that that is really, really big, when somebody is struggling with depression, there are ways to heal and get better. And you do absolutely have options to get the help that you need when you’re struggling with mental health. But sometimes too there, there’s just those moments where you were just feeling that feeling. And you just need somebody to validate that feeling to see you and to sit there with you, you know, and hold that for you. And I think that that’s one of my biggest things that I try to encourage partners is really, sometimes they don’t want a solution. They just want to feel seen and heard. And I don’t know if you have anything more to add to that. But I think that’s one of the big things that really changed things with my husband and I when I was struggling,

Speaker 1  23:51  

That’s good. And you know, that speaks so much to the relationship you have with your husband that you two were able to figure that out together and get to this place where sometimes you you know, you can’t be Mister Mister Fix It with everything. And I have those moments too. What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? Let’s fix it. But like any of us, we need that that ability to just vent or just to be heard or to really felt like to really feel like that we’ve been listened to. And it’s not just the other person waiting for their turn to speak. Right? So if you’re not getting that and you’re feeling like you’re just talking to a brick wall, it’s not going to make you feel any better. It’s not going to help you through that moment. It’s not going to help the two of you figure out what’s going on. It’s just going to put up the wall even higher or build those bricks even thicker, and we don’t want that. So I’m 100% with you that sometimes you just gotta talk and get it out.

Jessi Sletten  24:41  

Yeah, absolutely. Well, is there anything else that you wanted to share around, you know, how partners can be that more supportive presence or, you know, things that they could maybe even do ahead of time to understand more about mental health and the you know, perinatal timeframe and what to look for what to do anything like that, um, along those lines.

Speaker 1  25:06  

So I think about what we went through with both of our children. So our first one, Michael, was he wasn’t complicated. But at the very end, there were some complications with the actual birth. He wasn’t coming naturally she was induced. And I remember, before we even went to the hospital, we had gone for her last checkup, and we’re expecting to go a couple days later, to actually go into the hospital and go through the whole process. Instead, we went to the checkup and the doctor is like, well, I’m calling the hospital, you should go there in about two hours, go get something to eat, and you’re, you’re going. So it was like, you know, ready, let’s go, let’s go. And everything. I mean, thankfully, they both were born healthy, no issues, everything was great. But Michael was initially going to be a natural birth and wind up having to be a C section, because he wasn’t coming. You know, when the induction wasn’t working. And it was, it was a very long period of time, after they just said, let’s, let’s just, let’s get him out of there. Nicholas, we were a little more prepared for that. And we scheduled a C section for him. And it was a lot smoother, we knew what to expect, because again, it was also our second, our second child. So my wife was prepared for everything with the hospitalization, and it was much smoother. And again, thank God, they are healthy and happy. But as we were going through the first pregnancy, specifically, there was a lot of new information for us. Amongst our age group, and our immediate siblings and family members, there’s not a lot of kids around, I have a couple of friends. One I’ve known since high school, they have kids about the same age and a couple months older. So we get to see a little bit vicariously of what they went through when they were going through their pregnancy. But when we were going through ours, it really was just us. And it was a lot of learning that we get together and a lot of, you know, researching and going to the library and checking out those What to Expect When You’re Expecting books. Right. And I think that helped us by doing it together. It wasn’t just my wife sitting at home, looking through these books, and Googling all these different things. It was us going through it together and discussing, you know, what can you really expect? And what are the complications and when things would would come up at the at the sonogram, she would go to as minor as they we were like, “Let’s look a little into this and see if it’s really something to worry about”. And that would help us because I’m somebody who likes to learn about things. So if there’s something I don’t know about, it’s like, oh, let me check it out. And of course, today with with smartphones, you can find any bit of information any second of the day, without giving it any thought. So that helps me but it also is distracting. And that’s a whole other conversation. But having that ability to find this information and to speak to our doctors and really get some information together really helped us build up that that strength that we needed for when we ultimately did have Michael and then Nicholas. And again, you can’t expect to prepare for everything. But at least it gave us a little bit of an understanding of what’s coming. And I think setting that up with partners prior to the actual birth is great. It gives you that opportunity to learn together and you find out things like how much is available at your library for your kids when they’re a little older. I mean, we have a wonderful library that’s like a mile away from us. Huge playrooms and toys, and you can rent book, movies. And it’s a wonderful resource for kids going really from from as young as you know, a year old all the way through their teens. And as somebody who never used my library that much, I had no idea it was that that wonderful. So now we bring them there, and hey, go play for 20 minutes, and then we’ll get some books we can take home with us and but those are the things you discover in your community, because now you have a different perspective. It’s not just you and your partner, or it’s not just you. Now you got these little ones you got to figure out and you know how you’re going to keep them busy? Or how are you going to teach them things? Or are you going to show them the world and get them socialized? And I think doing that together before is is absolutely the best way to set yourselves up to being able to handle things together after or during.

Jessi Sletten  29:07  

Yeah, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. That’s like one of my biggest things. You know, for this platform, like the empowering piece comes from knowledge, right? It comes from feeling prepared in in the most way that you can be like we both you know, admitted you can’t always prepare for everything but at least you can come in to the situation with the knowledge that you can, knowing you have worked on nourishing that relationship worked on your communication pathways with your partner, really feeling like a team so that you enter parenthood together is such a strength. When it comes to the challenges that we can face. During Pregnancy during postpartum during everything beyond right it’s like I always tell my clients like birth is not like it seems to be like Like, a marriage, right or a wedding, like it’s the big event, right, and we all prepare for the big event, the birth. And then we kind of forget about everything that happens after. It’s just the beginning, like, you know, it really is. And the work that we do together in pregnancy and in early postpartum sets the foundation for our parenthood together, right, and really, it gives that strength, it’s never too late, it’s never too late to work on, you know, the things that we might be struggling with afterward. But I loved also what you said about understanding the resources in your community, because I think that that’s another big piece that can be applied to a lot of different areas, preparing to become a parent. You know, your example was the library, also finding places where you can, you know, be among other parents, you know, especially in cases like yours and mine, I was the first in my friend group, to have children. So I didn’t have that piece of community that understood what I was going through. So finding those people who know what you’re going through who are going through a similar experience. And those resources can be really be beneficial ahead of time, especially because you have more of that mindfulness, you’re not as exhausted, you’re not up 24 hours a day caring for a newborn. Who could help me you know, like, what are my resources? So really kind of checking into that ahead of time can be hugely beneficial, as well as for mental health. So I always encourage my clients, you know, know, your, your insurance benefits, if you have insurance. What does that look like as far as mental health services go? I even go, as far as you know, identify a couple of therapists in your community who are familiar with perinatal mental health and might be accepting clients, or that you feel good connection to have them, you know, on the backburner there in case you need them, because if you’ve already kind of done that legwork, it makes getting the help so much easier. Like when if and when you need it.

Speaker 1  32:08  

Absolutely. And I know I’ve talked about this a lot with a lot of clients, a lot of people over the years, that stigma therapy, it’s it’s certainly gotten better in society, but it’s still there still that, you know, some people feel like it’s an admission of weakness or failure if they go to a therapist, or why should I talk to a complete stranger about these things that they may not even have experienced themselves? Which brings me all the way back to my interning days when I would have I remember this one particular couple, they were both retired and they were having marital issues. And they sat in front of me, I was in you know late 20s. And what do you know about a marriage of 40? Right? I don’t know. No, not yet. But I’m knowledgeable, I’m educated and blah, blah, blah, that I won them over, thankfully. But when it comes to therapy, there’s a lot of, of unknowns for people seeking therapy. And I always try to phrase it in a way where if you’re starting to seek out therapist, see if they have some kind of consultation or initial session that they’ll do with you. Some of them will even do it shorter than a full session, like a quick 15 minute phone call or video chat, which video was much more accessible nowadays than pre-COVID. To and get a feel for them. Think of it like you’re interviewing the therapist, because if you’re going into therapy with somebody that you’re not connecting with or clicking with, or at least getting somewhat of a good feeling about, excuse me, then your therapy is just not going to be beneficial to you, you’ll be sitting in that that room, just what is this person saying they don’t know what I’m going through, they don’t know how to help me out. And then you’re just spinning your wheels and not getting the help that you really are looking for. So you’re interviewing them, it’s not them trying to find out about you, at least in that first session. And once you feel a little more comfortable than obviously you can open up but and the other thing, which I had already mentioned is that feeling of it being an admission of weakness or failure, which absolutely is not. We all have moments and issues and concerns that we need some extra help with. And it’s okay to reach out for that extra help, whether it’s through family or friends, or professional. My I have a family member who works in New Hampshire who who has built her practice around helping people with eating disorders. And she’s been doing that for quite a few years. And I think if I knew somebody who had some kind of concern like that, I would want them to work with somebody who knows what they’re doing. Yeah, it’s it’s a hard thing to deal with and having a professional even if it’s for a short amount of time. You’re just going to somebody who’s knowledgeable who has the education and who has that experience, who can put you in the right direction. And not to say all therapists are wonderful and perfect, but I think we’re a pretty good lot. And again, if you don’t mesh with somebody, that doesn’t mean therapy isn’t for you. It just means maybe that connection isn’t there and and yeah, that helps kind of erode that stigma a little bit more to knowing that you’re much more in control of the therapy than you realize. 

Jessi Sletten  35:08  

Yeah, no, I love that that perspective, because I do think that that is a little scary for people seeking help or, or the thought of idea of just sitting in a room with a complete stranger. And just like, here’s all my trauma, like, let’s lay it on the table, like that does not feel good, you know, a lot of us. And so it’s like, we need to build that comfort, that connection and make sure we feel good about that relationship. And similarly to doctors, right? A lot of folks that I work with, they just stick with a provider that maybe they don’t feel supported by and because they feel like they don’t have a choice in who they work with. And really, you know, the whole point of this platform is to empower birthgivers and families, to say like, what I’m experiencing matters, how I experience my birth and my postpartum matters. And prioritizing my needs through this time is one of the most important things that I can do. And finding those supports that encourage that is super, super important. So yeah, interview your therapists, interview your doctors and know that you have the power to say, this isn’t a good fit, like, and that’s okay, you know, so yeah, I couldn’t agree more with what you said about that. Because I think a lot of people don’t realize that they that they’re in control of that. 

Speaker 1  36:30  

Yeah, absolutely. And do a little little research into it, you know, maybe you know, somebody has been to therapy, and maybe they really enjoy their therapist. So you know, maybe you can see if they have availability, or you know, there’s there’s websites out there, you can check, you know, you can even just Google somebody and get a little bit of a feel for what they do and where they’re located. And even that can help you feel a little more normalized. Because Oh, this is a real person there. They’re at 100 main street, and I know exactly where that is. So I’m gonna go check them out. And, you know, it’s okay to do a little bit of research, and it’s okay to find that something’s not working for you and try something a little different.

Jessi Sletten  37:07  

Yeah, absolutely. We got a little off topic around the partners supporting but I think it’s all related.

Unknown Speaker  37:13  

It all ties together. 

Jessi Sletten  37:14  

Yeah, it does. And building that support village, you can’t have one person, be your everything, right. And I think that that’s something really, really, really important for all of us to remember, especially during times like this of immense change, where so often we view our partners, and they’re very, very key to our mental health, right, and our support system, but they can’t be our everything. So building that village of different professional supports, family supports, friends, all those things, is really, really key because nobody can be your everything.

Speaker 1  37:50  

That’s very true. And, and that’s why I always say like I said before, it’s okay to reach out for that extra help and, and be aware to of what your partner is going through, because they could be going through the same things that you’re going through, or they could be going through something completely different. But you having that awareness and trying to connect with them and reach out to them and even discuss different things that you can try to do. Maybe couples therapy is going to be helpful for you to at that moment, just to help navigate these things. But again, it all comes back to to listening and having that awareness and knowing that you just want to be heard, just like you want to be heard too.

Jessi Sletten  38:23  

Yes, absolutely. And something that just you said just kind of sparked my, my mind around, you know, and this is they think a very low estimate, I believe it isn’t at 10% of male partners experienced depression in the postpartum timeframe. 

Jessi Sletten  38:39  

I believe it’s something around that like, Yeah, I think you’re Yeah, I think.

Jessi Sletten  38:42  

And I think it’s really low is because they they think that a lot of obviously, a lot of people are still it’s a taboo thing for them to speak about. But it is important. And something that I tell my clients to is, you know, your partner is experiencing their own version of postpartum as well. Right. And so understanding that, it might it’s obviously not the exact same thing, because the birthgiver is going through a lot more of the physical stuff and the you know, physiological changes and all these things. But you know, having that empathy for each other, and understanding that you’re both going through this huge change and transition. It brings you a little closer, and I think it helps you have that empathy and that ability to hold and hear the things that your partner wants to share and needs to share with you. And I think that that’s a really important thing for all of us to keep in mind as well. 

Speaker 1  39:37  

Yeah, they were absolutely those moments where one of us would just be breaking down crying because it was so difficult when we’re having so much stress related to everything. And while the baby’s happily playing with the toys in the other room were like, Oh, we’re terrible parents. We’re not this. We’re not that and being able to be there for each other through those moments, even if we didn’t have the solutions, like you said, not being able to fix everything in the moment but just being there for each other and holding each other, and it’s okay, and pointing out those positives that are getting lost amongst all that dark cloud of negativity that can even just part those clouds a little bit, because it’s, you start to think we did do this, and we are acting this way. And, and it, it makes me think too. I was discussing this with my wife just a little bit last night, too, she struggled a lot with the breastfeeding and that was something that really was was really tough for her feeling like she can’t physically do something that so many moms can do. And that was a big thing that we really had to talk through a lot. And, and I tried to help assure her that that there’s a lot higher percentage of women that can’t or don’t breastfeed, then you know, it’s kind of similar in that it might be under reported, it depends how comfortable people are talking about it. But that doesn’t mean that’s a failure on her part, it’s just something that is just not doable at this point for whatever the reason. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t love him any less. That doesn’t mean you can’t care for him any less, or take care of him or feed him or anything like that, we just have to switch it up a little bit and just be a little more mindful of how much we’re giving him and talking with the doctor. Again, everything went went great, thank goodness. But that was a really emotional stress for her. Because it really felt like a failure on her part in every way. And I would certainly do anything I could to try to help her out of it. But those emotions are strong, and they can hit you pretty hard.

Jessi Sletten  41:30  

Yeah, absolutely. That was a big part of my experience as well was my struggling with my breastfeeding journey with my first son. And that absolutely contributed to my mental health state. Because it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a shame, because and I think we’re getting better about talking about, you know, how breastfeeding is a learned skill, right. But when I came into this, I didn’t have any friends to reference, I didn’t know, you know, and it was very, something that I had no idea about, I thought, Oh, well, you know, once the baby’s here, it’ll just be this natural, easy thing, and it was not at all. And so something to keep in mind is that, you know, it is a learned skill for both you and your baby, your baby has never fed that way before either just because they might have some, you know, innate knowledge somewhere, you know, in their DNA that oh, okay, I smell the milk, I know that that’s where I need to go, it doesn’t mean that they know how to latch, it doesn’t mean that they know, you know anything about it. And so you’re learning together and really try to remove that pressure of doing it right and perfect. Every you know, right away. Because parenting in general, is a learned skill, and we don’t know anything about it. And even if we are second, third, fourth, fifth time, parents and beyond, each child is different. And so you’re gonna have knowledge and skills that you acquire along the way with each pregnancy and each child. But you know, it’s always going to be a learning curve,

Speaker 1  42:57  

For sure. And that’s one of those instances to where I couldn’t, I literally could not relate to that, because I wasn’t the one providing, you know, the breastfeeding or anything like that. And my body’s not wired that way. And I was seeing it from the outside. And all I could think was how can I help her through this, because I can’t, I can’t say that I know exactly what she’s going through. But I could sympathize, I could be there, I could just get her through those those moments as best as I could. And that’s where a little bit of that that fix it side comes in. It’s like, okay, we can’t do this, let’s come up with another solution and see what’s going to work. And that also makes me think, too, it was during that whole, that whole period of time where he was growing up, we had the formula crisis, where all of a sudden, there’s, there’s, yeah, everybody’s struggling just to buy formula for their children and trying to make sure they’re fed. And I remember even talking to our pediatrician, like, you know, what do we do here? You know, we have enough, we’ll be okay for the time being, but what happens long term, if this keeps going on, and you know that that becomes another conversation that you have to navigate, you know, to make sure that your child’s getting the nutrition that they need? And, and that also added to her feeling like how come I can’t just do this myself. And that was, you know, something we really tried to get through together. And thankfully, we did. But it was a lot of a lot of communication and a lot of trust and a lot of opening up that vulnerability.

Jessi Sletten  44:18  

Yeah, no, I think that’s, that’s a beautiful thing to recognize, you know, too, is that sometimes, you know, I know for my personal experience was I just needed to hear it was hard. Like that validation of this is really hard. And this sucks, because this was something you held really close to your heart and it’s something you wanted to do so badly and it is not easy right now for you. You know, and just being able to be like, yeah, thank you. Like, I’m not crazy, like hearing that instead of well, have you tried this? Have you tried that, you know, like, all the things that people with good intention wanted to help me with but, you know, instead it was just like, I just need to hear that this is hard. And that, you know, whatever I need to do as far as a decision to be made. It’s not. It’s not the, you know, my breastfeeding journey isn’t the whole of my parenting experience, right? How much milk you’re able to produce does not equate to how good of a parent you are, or you know how nourishing you are to your child in other ways. And so being able to understand that, to acknowledge that, you know, and be able to just know that I was supported and heard with my struggles was such a key piece to that part of the journey that I was not expecting to be difficult.

Speaker 1  45:36  

Yeah, yeah, no, she certainly wasn’t either. And, yeah, it was, it was a curveball. But the nice thing about having prepared ahead of time and trying to keep those communication lanes open throughout everything, is that once we got out of the woods, and you look back on it, you know, this is now four years later, four and a half years since he was born. And we see this kid running around, kicking a soccer ball and playing with his little brother, and he’s this happy little kid. And, you know, he tells the weirdest jokes, but I think they’re funny, and you think back, remember what we went through, and it almost strengthens that, that ability for you to continue building up that great relationship, because you look at what you went through together and what you navigated and the problems you solved, or the problems, you didn’t solve it, you come to the end, you know, at the end, it’s really the beginning of everything. But the end of that dark cloud period, you know, you look back on it, and go, we did this together, and we created this wonderful situation for our family. And, and yes, it was tough. And that’s okay to acknowledge that, and it’s okay to acknowledge that you did good, too.

Jessi Sletten  46:44  

Yeah, I love that too. You know, pointing out the resilience in the difficulty and recognizing that in yourself and in your relationship is, is what keeps that hope, you know, and it’s like, okay, it is really hard right now. And this is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and things are really dark. But there’s also, I think, not the “but” but the “and”, right? That’s some of the things that I try to talk to my clients about shifting perspective on is, it’s okay to have and hold two experiences at the same time. And I think a lot of times, we have to be like, Oh, because I’m struggling with postpartum depression, everything is going to just always be this bad. And it’s horrible. And I, you know, but doesn’t need to be there. Right? It’s like, Yes, that’s true. And you love sitting and holding your baby, and you were able to learn how to change a diaper like a champ. And you were able to, you know, give a few ounces of breast milk, you know, when they were first born or whatever that is, like really, honoring the “and”, and holding both experiences, kind of gets us through the dark times.

Speaker 1  47:56  

I know, it’s, it’s hard to keep that in mind, too, when you’re in those dark spots, because it is so overwhelming. And it just builds up and builds up and rolls around in your head and you just want to lay down and go to sleep for 14 hours. But I you know, I would encourage anybody just know that there are moments in time that you can kind of pull together and say, You know what, it’s not so bad in this particular moment, this can get you through until the next one, or think a little further ahead, like we are gonna get through this, the baby’s gonna learn how to sleep in his crib alone, at some point, he’s gonna be able to dress himself, and we’re not gonna have to worry about diapers anymore. And it’s, it’s okay to think a little forward and latch onto that and just say, you know, this might be hard, but it’s going to be worth it, even if it doesn’t feel like it in this particular moment. It will down the road. 

Jessi Sletten  48:45  

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think that that’s somewhere to where your partners can help, you know, help us see that when we are in the trenches. And we are the one experiencing you know, depression or anxiety or whatever perinatal health disorder we might be struggling with. Having them there – not the toxic positivity, let’s not, let’s not do that. That’s not where we want to go. But having them recognize our strengths sometimes can be super helpful, like, oh my gosh, like, way to go, you know, you were able to have him on the breast for five minutes. Last time, it was only three like, awesome, like, that’s two more minutes, you know, and recognizing those strengths, recognizing those achievements can sometimes be so much easier from the partner perspective than the person who’s super struggling. Right. So I definitely think that that’s one area partners can be super supportive in is recognizing those strengths and those accomplishments. 

Speaker 1  49:41  

Yeah, I love that and pointing out those little steps forward. They’re still steps forward, even if it’s the tiniest thing, like you said, if it’s three minutes last time with the breastfeeding now you did five minutes. Well, it’s only two minutes but no, you just did something and did it better and did it more and that’s a good thing to acknowledge. It’s okay to take out the little things and go. Good job, you know? Eventually you’ll hit the big ones.

Jessi Sletten  50:07  

Especially when it comes to parenting, we have so many preconceived, you know, notions of being the perfect parent, you know, and what that means or what we’ve seen that mean, in the movies or, you know, on social media or whatever. And the reality is, is that’s just not reality. You know, it’s, it’s messy, and it’s imperfect. And it’s exactly you’re exactly the parent that your child needs. And, and being able to recognize that is really empowering.

Matthew Magiapane  50:36  

Amen. Totally agree.

Jessi Sletten  50:39  

Oh, my goodness, we could talk about this all day, and I’m loving our conversation. I was wondering, do you have any other last minute words of encouragement or pieces of advice for you know, partners, or birthgivers, or anybody going through this crazy journey we call parenthood.

Speaker 1  50:57  

The biggest thing that we both learned was, we’re going to make little mistakes, and that’s okay. Yeah, the mistakes aren’t going to last for the next 18 years of their life and being shared with a therapist, you know, for the rest of their adult life. Little things happen, we make a little mistake we didn’t, you know, we didn’t realize maybe he was hungry overnight, instead of needing a diaper. Or he took a little tumble off to the bed for the first time. He tried to lay on a bed. And if they’re not bleeding, it’s okay. 

Jessi Sletten  51:24  

Yeah, exactly. They’re resillient.

Matthew Magiapane  51:25  

We heard that. Yeah, we heard that noise once he was in his room. And it was the first time he just decided to climb out of his crib. You know, it was I forget how old he was about a year and a half. Those things happen, you can’t control everything. And, and it’s okay to learn from those mistakes. And that doesn’t mean that you’ve permanently damaged your child. That doesn’t mean you’ve permanently affected your relationship. It’s a little speed bump you’re gonna get through and we all go through them in different ways. 

Jessi Sletten  51:50  

Yes, absolutely. Oh, my gosh, so funny. You shared the crib thing, I definitely have that same experience. I’m like, downstairs doing something. I just hear this “thud!”. And I’m like, Yep, sure enough, he learned how to climb out. It’s like, well, time for the toddler bed.

Matthew Magiapane  52:04  

yeah, that’s exactly what we went through.

Jessi Sletten  52:08  

But it’s true. It’s like in those moments, like, like I said, before, it’s a learning curve, right? We’ve never gone through that specific experience with this child before. And they’re their own person. And they’re developing in their own way and their own speed. And so, you know, a lot of parenthood is reactionary, there are things we should prepare for. But at the same time, it’s like, we just got to learn from each of those experiences each of those mistakes and give ourselves some grace, for goodness sakes, this is hard.

Matthew Magiapane  52:36  

You’re doing your best. I’m sure any parent is just doing their best. And it might come with those little speed bumps here and there. But we can always drive over them and keep moving forward.

Jessi Sletten  52:47  

Yes, exactly. It’s just a speed bump. It’s not a, you know, it’s not a blockade. We don’t just stop being a parent, because we made a mistake. Oh, my goodness, well, this was so insightful. Thank you so very much. And if you want to, you know, connect with you, out in the wonderful world of the internet or anywhere else, where can they find you.

Unknown Speaker  53:10  

So you can find me on Facebook and Instagram at MJM Wellness NY you can also go to my website, which is www.mjmwellnessny.com. We have a blog up there with different posts of different mental health topics. We’re starting to post our own little podcast that we’re putting together, where we’re speaking with other mental health professionals and wellness professionals of all different fields. You could also get our contact information and set up an appointment directly on the website, if anybody’s interested in therapy or even just a free consultation. And yeah, we’re always open to hearing people’s thoughts. And if anybody’s interested in therapy or has any questions about therapy, you know, we’re always reachable. 

Jessi Sletten  53:52  

Awesome. That’s exciting about the podcast. That’ll be a fun adventure. to definitely keep an eye on that once it’s up and running. Do you guys have it published yet? Are you just starting to record the episodes?

Unknown Speaker  54:02  

We just posted our first episode? I think it went live yesterday. So we have a few more on the bank. And we’re gonna try to do like say ten a season and give ourselves a couple of months to recollect ourselves and started rolling in. So they shouldn’t be posting once a week, actually, like I said, just starting yesterday. So.

Jessi Sletten  54:20  

that’s great. Well, to check it out, for sure. What’s the name of the podcast?

Unknown Speaker  54:24  

Is Chat About That with Matt, because we had to make it. 

Jessi Sletten  54:28  

I know, right? 

Unknown Speaker  54:29  

Yeah. It’s on Spotify and Apple podcasts right now as well. So you can search for it and find it directly that way.

Jessi Sletten  54:37  

Sounds like a great resource. And I really appreciate our wonderful conversation. And I think that this was hopefully one of those beacons of light and a really dark, challenging time that people either have gone through are currently going through or might want to prepare for. Nobody wants postpartum depression. Nobody expects to get it but you know, it can happen and I think it’s important to feel prepared, and to understand that you’re not alone, and that you can get well, and that there are resources out there for you. And so thank you for taking the time to chat with me about that, Matt. I really appreciate it. 

Matthew Magiapane  55:13  

Thank you. 

Jessi Sletten  55:14  

Yeah, this has been such a insightful episode for sure. And you know, everybody watching, I just want to remind you that Empowering Postpartum Coaching guides, new and pregnant moms and birthgivers through the transition into your parenthood so that you can bond with your baby without sacrificing your own self care. And if this is what you’re waiting or wanting out of your own postpartum experience, then I’m on Instagram. You can see my handle here at empowering_postpartum, shoot me a DM and we can chat about how I can support you through your journey. And also remember that this show can be heard on the Spanglish Radio Network, please check out Spanglish world.ca for all the news and programming. Spanglish world. Watch it, hear it, read it, download it, and live it. And we will see you all next week again for another episode of empowering postpartum and we hope that you have a great week. Thank you so much again, Matt.

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