The Bump presents #MomBoss, a series dedicated to showing off all-star moms. We catch up with mompreneurs behind products we love, influencers who get real about motherhood and SAHMs who can multitask in their sleep.
As a social worker with more than 20 years under her belt, Paige Bellenbaum is devoted to helping others. But when she faced severe postpartum depression and needed help herself, she felt alone and hopeless.
Eventually, she sought support from doctors and was able to find her way out of a very dark place. Now, the mom of two is an advocate for new moms and works as the chief external relations officer of The Motherhood Center, a new clinical treatment facility for postpartum depression. She gave us an inside look into The Motherhood Center’s progressive facilities and opened up about what motherhood means to her, including the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a California girl–born and raised in San Francisco. I moved to New York City in 2000 to attend Columbia University for my Masters in social work. I was all ready to move back to San Francisco, but right before then, I met my husband-to-be. In 2005, after one month of marriage, we found out we were pregnant. I guess I’m fortunate in the sense that my husband only had to look at me for that to happen. After our son Max was born, I was immediately filled with intense anxiety, which led to severe postpartum depression. Catherine Birndorf, MD, co-founder of the Motherhood Center, was actually part of my clinical treatment team, but we didn’t realize this connection until much later!
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It was the darkest time of my life and I almost lost my life because of it. It’s like being in an ocean and not being able to swim, and just waiting for someone to throw you a life preserver. I couldn’t believe that nobody was talking about it, despite the fact that research suggests 1 in 5 new and expectant mothers experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, otherwise known as postpartum depression (PPD).
Is that what made you become a champion for the cause?
After I recovered with the help of medication and therapy, I became furious that nobody was talking about how common PPD is. Instead, women like myself feel guilty and ashamed for their feelings and thoughts and keep it to themselves. I worked with a New York state senator to draft legislation requiring new mothers to be educated about PPD before they are discharged from the hospital, and strongly encouraging ob-gyns and pediatricians to screen for PPD.
My primary goal in life is to make sure other women suffering from perinatal depression and anxiety don’t have to suffer silently, which is why I agreed to help open The Motherhood Center with Catherine!
Can you explain what The Motherhood Center is?
The Motherhood Center is a first-of its-kind clinical treatment facility in New York City for pregnant and new moms suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), otherwise referred to as postpartum depression. We offer various tiers of treatment based on the client’s symptom severity, including:
- A day program with a nursery for the babies
- Outpatient therapy and medication management
- Support groups for new…
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