Behind the work
The researchers who developed the Thrive Guide identified the need to understand pregnant and parenting mothers' experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and began interviewing women about their experiences (through our "COPE Study": COVID-19 and Perinatal Experiences).
The participants pushed them to think deeply about how they could effect change quickly—what could be done that might have a significant impact?
The Thrive Guide was created to address the existing gaps in wellness support for the pregnant and postpartum community, encouraging expectant and new mothers to proactively consider and make a plan for their own wellness needs. The guide is a one-page outline that leads perinatal individuals through the exercise of identifying caregivers, activities and health care provider resources that they may need to support their own wellness. The Thrive Guide responds to the needs our participants articulated.
Participants said they needed reminders from others to prioritize their mental health:
The baby, work, my spouse, my parents, all come first. I need someone/something to remind me that I'm important too.
- New mom, study participant
Multiple participants suggested that a personal action plan is critical, especially for planning steps to take in times of overwhelm, depression, anxiety, exhaustion—times when it is too difficult to take the time to find the right support and ask for it:
Figure out what you might need and come up with an action plan during pregnancy: I know I need time outside. I need exercise. When things get bad (with anxiety/depression/overwhelm), I get less and less able to ask for help and to even articulate what’s going on, so I talked to my partner and my therapist about what to do if things got bad—I authorized my therapist to allow my husband to schedule appointments for me. My therapist helped me find a psychiatrist in case I needed medicine to help postpartum. I sent phone numbers to my husband—everyone to call if I'm having a hard time. I told my midwife that this was the plan just in case things got bad.
- Pregnant mom, study participant
The Thrive Guide is a proactive and predetermined plan to address wellness needs:
My partner made a list that he labeled with who to call when you’re sad, who to call when you need to commiserate, who to call when it gets really bad, when to schedule with your therapist. So we made that together, and it was a really good resource to have. Sometimes all the support you need is just someone to listen and that sense of community, undermining that isolation, normalizing the experience.
- Postpartum mom, study participant