155: Supporting Muslim New Mothers


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By Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D., Katayune Kaeni, and Psy.D.. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Dealing with perinatal mental health issues is a difficult enough task, but the problem is compounded for Muslim women living in the US. My guest today helps us understand the issues and how we can best support these moms.

Dr. Venus Mahmoodi specializes in trauma and reproductive mental health. More specifically, in today’s show, she’ll tell us about perinatal mental health for Muslim women, including the rates of depression for the Muslim community in the US, what makes them particularly vulnerable to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and how we can support Muslim women in a culturally competent way. Dr. Mahmoodi completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University in California, with an emphasis on women’s neuroscience and health through collaboration with Stanford University. Her clinical training included working with refugees and torture survivors, veterans, and perinatal women in a specialized, intensive outpatient program. Her dissertation focused on the perinatal experience of Muslim women living in the US, including the protective aspects of Islamic practice during and after pregnancy against depressive symptoms. Dr. Mahmoodi completed specialized training through Postpartum Support International, and advanced specialized training in grief/loss and distress related to infertility at the Seleni Institute in NY. She now cares for individuals and couples at the Seleni Institute, which focuses on perinatal mental health as well as the Haleel Center, which focuses on the mental well-being of Muslims.

Show Highlights:

  • Why the percentages of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders increase for women of color, including Muslim women (up to 28%), but there are lower levels of support, services, and resources
  • How culture and religion play huge roles in the Muslim population
  • The unique challenges for Muslim women, including issues with their country of origin, because their practices will differ from those in other countries
  • The far-reaching effects of Islam in countries around the world, with Indonesia and South Asia having the largest numbers
  • The misconceptions that Muslims only come from Middle Eastern countries
  • How the two sects of Muslims differ in how their religion is practiced and expectations for pregnancy and postpartum
  • Societal pressure and family pressure within the Muslim community
  • How family traditions in pregnancy and postpartum can lead to stress and anxiety for moms
  • Religious practice and prayer restrictions in the Muslim community
  • Other coping strategies that Muslim women can use when they are restricted from prayers
  • Feelings of inadequacy for the Muslim mother
  • How The Haleel Center finds ways to incorporate religious thought and women’s expectations
  • Vulnerabilities for Muslim women in gender roles and stigmas for patriarchal societies
  • Strengths for Muslim women in that religion protects them against mental illness, helps them cope with and manage stress, and gives them a sense of connection to God
  • How we can support Muslim women in culturally competent ways by being curious and avoiding assumptions

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Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions Edited by Sameera Ahmed and Mona M. Amer

162 episodes