132: Path to Wellness Through Pregnancy and Postpartum

What are the key factors to wellness? Wellness is important for everyone, but is vitally important during pregnancy and the postpartum period, both for new moms AND dads. Let’s talk about the key factors on the path to wellness.


Adrienne Griffen is the founder and Executive Director of Postpartum Support Virginia. She started PSVA to fill a gap in services in her area. When she experienced postpartum depression and anxiety in 2002, it took almost six months to find the help she needed. Since then, she’s been providing information, outreach, and support to new mothers and the healthcare providers who serve them. For her efforts, Adrienne was selected as the Peer Specialist of the Year by the National Council for Behavioral Health in January 2016, and a Woman of Vision by Arlington County’s Commission on the Status of Women in June 2018. Adrienne graduated from the US Naval Academy and has a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her early career included military and government service at the White House, Pentagon, and IRS. Adrienne lives in Arlington, VA, with her husband and three children.


Show Highlights:


  • Adrienne’s The Path to Wellness, a one-page summary to help moms; it starts with the basics and moves into self-care, social support, therapy, and medications
  • The scaffolding approach of The Path to Wellness
    • Self-care and its four key components: eat, sleep, exercise, and time off
      • How Adrienne helps moms realize the necessity of self-care
      • Tips to get good sleep (4-5 uninterrupted hours) for new moms
      • Nutrition for new moms: eat when the baby eats, and focus on nutrient-dense, high protein snacks with lots of water
      • Tip: stock a feeding station wherever you feed the baby
      • To get good exercise, go for a walk outside, which can benefit both mom and baby
      • To get “time off,” figure out what can make you better for the day, whether it’s showering, yoga, meditation, journaling, etc.
    • For social support, get connected to other women who are going through the same thing
      • Support will give you validation, normalization, and hope
      • Social support can take varied forms, so find the one that works best for you
      • In-person support groups can offer positive reinforcement
    • Talk therapy or counseling can help moms gain control over emotions and learn coping strategies
      • One goal is to “soften up” women who are in a brittle state so they can be more stable
    • Medications are not a first step, but some are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding moms
      • Why there are many misconceptions and much misinformation about medications
      • Why mental health meds are perceived as optional, but not other meds
  • How these valuable interventions help new moms
  • Why we do new moms a disservice by not talking about postpartum issues
  • How single moms can find the help and support they need
  • The value in short-term help, especially for getting good sleep
  • The warning signs of too much sleep, not falling asleep well, or not staying asleep
  • Words of Hope from Adrienne: “You are not alone. You are not to blame, and with help, you WILL be well.”






Find PostpartumVA on Facebook

Contact Adrienne:  adrienne.griffen@gmail.com

Find the printable Path to Wellness sheet:



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