We’re excited to share that Tribeca Therapy Senior Therapist and Director of Tribeca Maternity Rachael Benjamin appears in several articles in VeryWell and Health, offering her expertise in pregnancy, postpartum, and early parenting.
Most recently, VeryWell writer Lakeisha Fleming spoke to Rachael about the difficulties of big life transitions, whether becoming a parent, a kid heading to college, or the more universal transitions we’ve all undergone during the pandemic. In “Finding Ease with Transition in Ever Changing Times,” Rachael acknowledges that the most difficult part of transitions can be the sense of the unknown. “I think why they’re stressful is because we don’t know everything about them,” Rachael says. This can lead to fear, which can appear in numerous ways and bleed into other parts of our lives. Rachael observes, “Fear can have us act in an anxious way. Or fear may even have us act in a closed-off way…Fear can also shut people out. We also might hide fear, like it’s not a big deal…Fear when it’s unaddressed or under-addressed, transpires in other parts of our life.”
When feeling anxious or fearful about a transition, Rachael encourages slowing down and being patient with yourself. “Transitions should not be rushed, even if they have a deadline,” she advises. “Embrace the reality that ‘I don’t know everything. I’m going to have to feel more than I want to feel.’ Stop fighting the reality.”
Sometimes these transitions also mean dealing with physical changes, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum. Rachael addresses how a changing body can affect women and pregnant people emotionally during maternity in VeryWell Family’s “Post-baby Stretch Marks Are Nothing to Be Ashamed Of—These Parents Prove It.” Rachael explains that experiences of bodily changes like stretch marks are frequently raised by pregnant and postpartum patients at Tribeca Maternity, including “how the body is both part of them and something they’re getting to know in a new way that they noticeably have less control over.”
Body image concerns, especially during pregnancy and postpartum, are influenced by both personal and cultural pressure. Rachael describes, “Women and pregnant people struggle with cultural expectations—for instance, the cultural pressure to have a body that bounces back quickly post-baby—mixed with their own expectations of their pre-baby body and its value.” Rachael asserts that these changes like stretch marks can be related to differently as “a long-lasting sign or mark noting that you grew a human and your body made space for that.”
Another VeryWell Family article “Expert Tips for Dealing with Loved Ones Who Don’t Like Your Baby’s Name” cites Rachael on why new parents may be taken aback when a family member or friend has a negative reaction to a new baby’s name. A baby’s name is, Rachael notes, “a personal part of the couple’s life.” “Usually, it’s something partners decide on together and build together. It’s one of the big first steps as a new family or a family adding a member,” she adds.
Lastly, in Health’s “What Is Birth Trauma? Distress During Childbirth Can Have Lasting Effects—Here’s How to Manage Them,” Rachael discusses the definition of birth trauma with writer Claire Gillespie, as well as the importance that the birth trauma “be felt, acknowledged, and grieved in community.” Birth trauma, which can be experienced by both the birthing parent and their partner, is any physical, emotional, and/or psychological experience of unsafety during, before, or shortly after birth. This can include, Rachael asserts, “the baby was at risk in birth, the labor went quickly from managed to a state of crisis for the birthing parent or baby, or the partner witnessed parts of the birth in which they were the only one not in crisis.” She also specifically names “occasions in which the birthing parent both feels the trauma of what happened in the labor/delivery as well as a traumatic experience brought up from the past.”
Rachael explains that people with birth trauma “may be continually experiencing hypervigilance, panic, anxiety, or flooding of thoughts re-experiencing the event in waking moments or dreams.” For those experiencing birth trauma, Rachael suggests asking for help, whether from a therapist, a postpartum doula, friends, family members, a partner, or a parenting group for parents with birth trauma. She says, “Don’t be scared to ask for all the help you need, especially with the practical aspects of caring for your baby…This makes it easier to take care of yourself and find the space to address your trauma. When we face, feel, and grieve trauma, we can also make more space for what we want in life now that we have fully honored the traumatic event.”