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Sheri Hovdestad, SBH Counseling Services LLC

As a therapist, I thought I had a general understanding when it came to the subject of
postpartum depression. If you approached me about it, I would have told you that postpartum depression pretty much looked the same for every woman, and that it has a defined beginning and end. I would have equated it with the “baby blues” and described a woman, who shortly after giving birth, presents as sad, crying, and disengaged from her baby. These symptoms might last a few weeks, but eventually this mother would start to feel less and less depressed, and more like her pre-baby self. The mothering instinct would kick in and she would bond with her baby like something out of a baby shampoo commercial. This is what I would have told you…before I became a mother myself in 2014 and had to face my own experience head on.

It was not what I was expecting, and I was not prepared. Becoming a mother made realize that I had so much more to learn. I would come to find out that the baby blues are very different from postpartum depression, and that postpartum depression falls under the larger umbrella of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders; something that wasn’t taught in my graduate school program (but should be!). It’s more than depression. It can be anxiety, constant worry and fear, anger, irritability, scary thoughts, obsessive and compulsive behavior. And it has nothing to do with your ability to be a mother or how much you love your baby.

Becoming a mother has made me keenly aware of the expectations women often place on
themselves in hopes of living up to the ideal of the ‘perfect’ mother. As a therapist, I am
passionate about helping women navigate the journey of motherhood in a way that allows for them to be open and honest in their experiences. I want to normalize the overwhelming feelings, and scary thoughts that all too often lead a mother to believe that she is not good enough. I want women to know that reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. And most importantly, I want women to know that it will get better. And that they are not alone.

While my initial training was in treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, I have expanded my practice to include services for infertility, perinatal loss and traumatic birth. I feel strongly about maternal mental health AND maternal physical health. I am encouraging our society and healthcare system to change the way it approaches the care of women after birth. When the focus shifts to the baby, often a mother will ignore her own emotional/physical symptoms. We repeatedly see women who reach out for help and be dismissed or not heard. We need to ASK and we need to LISTEN.

About Sheri

Sheri is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey and a National Certified Counselor. She earned her Master of Arts in Counseling and an Advanced Counseling Certificate from Montclair State University. Sheri has diverse experience working with children, adolescent and adult clients in various settings.

Sheri now owns SBH Counseling Services LLC, a private practice specializing in reproductive mental health. She has received advanced training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, perinatal loss and infertility counseling.

In May 2016, she joined the Maternal Mental Health Coalition in Washington D.C. as part of a delegation from New Jersey that met with members of Congress, to advocate for support of the Bringing Postpartum Depression Out of the Shadows Act; which was signed into law by President Obama in the 21st Century Cures Act.

Sheri Hovdestad, MA, LPC, NCC 

SBH Counseling Services LLC

https://sbhcounseling.com

609.795.7619

 

 

 

THRIVE Women’s Health Physical Therapy

 

In November we had the pleasure of visiting Thrive Women’s Health Physical Therapy, and sitting down with the owner, Meredith Rassam, to talk a little bit about her business and why moms should see a pelvic floor therapist.

Pelvic floor physical therapy involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help address sexual problems by improving chronic vaginal or pelvic pain and urinary incontinence.

Meet Meredith

Meredith Rassam is a women’s health physical therapist. She has been a PT for 15 years and in the last 4 years has devoted much of her time to learning about and treating women’s health clients. After having her second child, Meredith wanted to jump back into running and living the active lifestyle that she was used to. Stress and urge incontinence prevented her from enjoying higher level activity and instead of being a stress relief was a major cause of stress. Unable to pursue these activities, Meredith started studying and reading more about women’s health as well as taking courses and was able to help herself. Now, at Thrive Women’s Health Physical Therapy, she hopes to help many women who struggle with incontinence, Diastasis Recti, pelvic organ prolapse and other common (but not normal!) diagnosis’ many postpartum women have.

About THRIVE

About 6 months ago, Meredith felt a strong urge to create more for her patients; to create a space that was comfortable, supportive, calming and healing to treat women who have pelvic floor dysfunction. She was lucky enough to meet Faith at Relief Acupuncture who had extra space in her clinic, which was exactly the environment that she was looking for.

It is important that you have quality time with your physical therapist. This allows a thorough evaluation or treatment to be given each time you are here.  Each session is at least an hour and they do not provide cookie cutter treatments. Meredith’s goal is to work with you to improve your symptoms and improve your function as quickly as possible. Because of her own journey and the somewhat limited knowledge out there in the world of pelvic health, she wants to educate as many women as she can. She strives to help women feel strong again, to have less pain, and to thrive in their life!

Make an Appointment

If you want to make an appointment with Meredith, give her a call (717-685-9548) or email Thrivewhpt@gmail.com. We can check your benefits and see if you are covered for therapy. Then we will schedule your appointment and Meredith with complete a 1-2 hour evaluation. At Thrive, we are able to take the time to get a full history of your symptoms. When did your symptoms start, how much pain are you in, what was your birth like?, etc.  Getting a full history helps guide the evaluation. Then we gather objective date –  range of motion of your hips and back. Your strength is tested, flexibility is assessed. Tenderness to any ligaments, muscles or tendons is assessed as well. We look at posture and breathing. Once the orthopedic evaluation is complete, if comfortable, we will complete a pelvic floor assessment. This looks at the muscles of the pelvic floor, in and around the vaginal opening. We make sure the pelvic floor can contract, relax and lengthen properly. Similarly to muscles in the other parts of the body, we feel for any tenderness in the pelvic floor. We assess the strength of the pelvic floor, make sure all levels are able to contract. We assess the resting level of the pelvic floor – is it too tight? Or too weak? Once all this is tested, Meredith will develop a comprehensive home exercise program for you to begin working on. Ideally, we will meet every 1-2 weeks for 6-8 weeks to see how things are going and to properly progress your home exercises. Consistency is key for improvement of symptoms!

 


Thrive Women’s Health Physical Therapy is located at

7 Route 31 Pennington, NJ 08534

info@ThriveWHPT.com

717.685.9548