Dismantling Perinatal Health Disparities, Postpartum Support and tips for Parental Burnout
With Reketta Peterson
In this episode, I'm talking with Reketta Peterson, LPC, PMH-C, a licensed professional counselor, and BIPOC health equity consultant.
She is a HAES Health at Every Size advocate, and a member of the associate for size diversity, and health.
We dig into supporting mothers postpartum, how to deal with parenting burnout, relationship survival tips, and dismantling medical racism, perinatal health disparities, and common blind spots for professionals and patients in healthcare. We talk about what changes are needed, what that can look like, and what you can do to get involved. So much goodness in this episode!
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Full Transcript is below.
In this episode you'll discover
You can connect with Reketta HERE.
Follow her on Instagram at @AriseCounseling.
Connect with her onLinkedIn HERE.
Get her book Worthy A Mindset Companion For Entrepreneurial Women of Color, HERE.
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Amanda Testa (00:02):
Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire Podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a Sex Love and Relationship coach. And in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex love and relationships and everything that lights you up from the inside out.
Welcome. Hello everyone. And welcome to the podcast today. I am so excited today because I am going to be talking with Reketta Peterson. She is a licensed professional counselor and BIPOC health equity consultant. She's also a health at every size advocate and member of the association for size diversity and health. She loves globe trotting, swimming and naps, and I just am so excited to talk with her today and welcome, welcome Reketta. Thank you for being here.
Reketta Peterson (00:45):
Thank you for having me, Amanda. So excited to be here today.
Amanda Testa (00:49):
We were just talking before we recorded and I was, I just was sharing with her a little bit about the roots of the podcast and how I originally came upon my business, starting from just being so burnt out as a mom and suffering from all the postpartum things. And I know back in the beginnings of your at work, kind of were based in that too. So I'd love if you would just share a little bit more just about you and who you are and what you do.
Reketta Peterson (01:15):
So I got started in the perinatal mental health world because I was already in school for counseling and I had my first baby, my first baby was born in Korea. So we had what was labeled an elective C-section, but for me, I didn't think it was elective. And I was also in a foreign country. Only my doctor spoke English. So there was just a lot. And then motherhood hit me. It's like we were talking earlier and I was thinking to myself as I'm searching for answers of how I was feeling, not a lot people talk about this. So I want it to be someone that was the, I guess, the person that could stand in and provide resources for anyone that happens to come my way.
Amanda Testa (02:03):
That's such an amazing resource that you're offering these things, because it is such a challenging time. And I know right now with everything going on in the world, it can feel really a lot of parents are feeling burned out and that obviously affects relationships and so many things. So I'm curious for you what, you know, when it comes to, just to just speak for a few moments on perinatal health, and then we're going to move into many topics, but I just feel like that's kind of a, I feel like such a starting point because it can be so hard for so many women. And I love if you would share a little bit more about your passion in that realm. Yeah.
Reketta Peterson (02:41):
So typically we think of postpartum stuff as like postpartum depression, but it gets so much deeper. And in my, my trainings, I've learned that I experienced, and this is just a content warning I experienced postpartum OCD. I did not even know that intrusive thoughts were a part of postpartum OCD. And I was afraid to tell anyone like many women are these birthing persons are because we're afraid that they might take our baby away from us. So for me, once I found what it was and led me down path of, well, I have had anxiety in the past, and that's where it stems from. So it's important to know for the listeners out there that if you are having thoughts, you can get professional help, don't run away from it. Don't think that someone will shame you for that. I would definitely go and talk to your primary care physician and then have them refer you out. Or you can even look yourself for individuals that specialize in perinatal mental health, and depression.
Amanda Testa (03:49):
I think he has reaching out. But I do. I also want to just name to the truth of like being afraid to speak up for being put in a position where you're worried that something might happen, like your child might be taken or that you might be afraid to speak the truth. I think a lot of times, and I, and, and to be honest, you know, half the time, not all just generalizing here, but oftentimes healthcare providers often dismiss certain things. So,
Reketta Peterson (04:16):
So for me, it was take that eight questionnaire, the Edinburgh perinatal, pretty sure I'm getting it wrong, but it's a screening tool they use for depression. And I felt like if I said anything out of place, there would be consequences. It wouldn't be them calling me and more so pushing me out in a way. And so I want to answer truthfully, and I know you can see other people that they also did not want me here. So truthfully, so even though we're trying to do better with having screeners in place, I still think they're are missing a piece when it comes to providers actually helping new moms. And you're a new mom, every time having a child, I have three and each time I've always felt like I didn't feel comfortable enough to speak to my primary care physician.
Amanda Testa (05:05):
Yeah. And so, you know, moving through kind of finding some support around feeling burned out. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions there or what you might offer.
Reketta Peterson (05:17):
Yes. Well, I want to just kind of normalize that you don't have freight nerves at this point or you haven't had it. Wow. Thank you. Clark kent.. I really did want said that as a collective, it is so difficult for parents out there, whether you are handling things at the school board and the local level, whether you have a child, you get a call you're deep in work and you'd phone call. And they're like, Hey, come and pick your, child up , you know, there's so many things. Childcare is also much more difficult to find. Everyone that I've spoken to has had some , the pandemic has touched their lives in some way. And I know for me, from my own personal experience, I had to leave my job because I couldn't find childcare. And, you know, still having that privilege to use my license, to work in private practice and be at home as I need to.
Reketta Peterson (06:13):
But it still has been me having to pivot because if my child's been exposed, she's out for two weeks or so, or whatever we're doing right now. And let me bring this full circle, I'm feeling it as If the primary caregiver, it all caregivers in general have to pivot, and that's fraying your nerves, you're feeling burned out. And I just want to collectively, I want to say as a collective, we are doing the best we can. You can't do anything else. You have tried it all at this point. And I think leaning in on others is pretty helpful. So if you do have someoneone that you can lean in on, please do. So don't do this alone.
Amanda Testa (06:54):
I think that's hard. And I know for, like, for example, I have zero family nearby, so that makes it more challenging. And I do feel like for a lot of people that might be in that boat of not having someone, you know, that's a family member to lean into. It's like finding those other communities of support where you can. Yeah.
Reketta Peterson (07:14):
That's because I'm a military spouse and I live in Alaska and I also don't have family here. What has helped is I got into some really good groups on clubhouse, believe it or not. And that has been so helpful for me finding people that are in my niche, women entrepreneurs. And that has been so helpful. It's actually given me a boost of energy when I needed it most.
Amanda Testa (07:39):
And I think too, just like having that, that energy to find the strength to pivot can sometimes be hard, especially when you're just feeling so beaten down by everything. And yeah, that's a lot and it also affects relationships for sure.
Reketta Peterson (07:55):
And I really think that's important for us to speak on as a relationship therapist, I'm seeing more and more people come in which is good. I really think that if you are thinking about it, go ahead and schedule a session with a therapist. I feel like the earlier the better that gives us more wiggle room. And what I'm seeing is we have never been taught how to love our partners. I'm not sure about you, Amanda, but that has never been something that was in my childhood. How do you love your partner? In fact, my parents were never married and I feel that you bring that into adulthood. And I think family of origin is very important. Our partners can activate small T traumas that we've had in our childhood and it comes into place in your relationship. So you could eventually, you think it's communication, which you could be. Everyone comes in saying we just need help communicating. But under the umbrella of communication, there is activation. I like to call it activation rather than a trigger. And there is, I'm not getting what I need from my partner. And I'm pretty sure I'm also not providing what my partner needs. Well, how can we work this out?
Amanda Testa (09:16):
Right. And I think that I'm curious too, because when you feeling those activations come up and you're feeling like you're not able to get what you need or give what you need, what would be some things you could do in that area to kind of examine what might be happening?
Reketta Peterson (09:35):
Yeah. So I, I tend to tell my players to hold on to your anxiety for a few moments, the things that has activated you, because what you heard might not have been the intentions of your partner. And before we let that out in anger, perhaps stepping back and checking ourselves and say, is this about my partner? Or is this about me? Something happened here. And oftentimes whatever was said, reminds us of what happened in childhood. And it's really hard for us to sit with those emotions that would cause discomfort. That's so difficult. And we are trying to reach out to our partners to connect, but it comes out somewhat angrily. I would say, just not in a way out of love. It's not out of love.
Amanda Testa (10:23):
I know in those moments, it can be very hard to take that, to take that moment to not respond. Is there any tips you have on what you can do in that moment when you are trying to sit with the difficulty?
Reketta Peterson (10:33):
Yes. So, and somatic work, oftentimes you can like, and those people can't see me, but you would take your left hand and cover your right thumb. And that's essentially just hold yourself, holding yourself when you need it the most. And taking a moment to just breathe and ask yourself if this is, is this about me or is this about my partner right now? It could be about your partner, but you won't know that you can explore that gently, you know, gentle explortion is very important. I think the key as you and your partner works through things is that you're both seeking to connect with each other. You're both seeking emotional intimacy. And right now that is not happening when you would like for it too.
Amanda Testa (11:22):
And I think like, as you mentioned earlier, you know, with zero childcare or whether or not your kid's in school or not, or how you're juggling extended absences, if they are exposed or whatnot, you know, then it can feel like you have zero alone time, right?
Reketta Peterson (11:39):
Yes. I think what the pandemic, a lot of us have already hit our limit. And so we don't necessarily have that left for our partners. And I really feel like that's where we need it the most . our partners are, if you do have children, our partners are the ones that we can turn to the most for things. And if we are not in sync with each other, that can be hard for the entire family to get on the same page. Yes. We're afraid. Yes. We've been in this for over a year now, but the bigger picture is how can we pivot as a family as a couple, rather than how can I do this all on my own?
Amanda Testa (12:19):
I think that key is like doing it together. Yes. The collective piece,
Reketta Peterson (12:26):
I do want to pass on like emotional intimacy and terms of emotional work and then moving towards sexual desire. You're tired and it’s kind of hard to get into that mood. You know, your libido evels might be at an all time low, or you still have that desire. You're tired and it's important to explore all aspects of your sexual desire. It could be something that is as a whole, and you can ask your primary care physician for a referral. And it can also be something where if stress is in the equation, reducing stress as much as you can. And I tell my clients to be intentional, be intentional with yourself, take time for yourself and take time with your partner. As soon as you walk through the door, 15 minutes is all you may need to connect 15 minutes, and then you can go about your day having your time.
Amanda Testa (13:25):
I think that point that you just made about it doesn't necessarily have to take a ton of time because sometimes it can be hard, especially if you are managing multiple things or like different jobs and all the, sometimes it can feel like two ships passing in the night when you're both super busy. And so I'm curious when you, when it comes to those 15 minutes, if you have maybe any suggestions for connection.
Reketta Peterson (13:50):
Yes. And it totally depends on your family and what you guys are doing. I mentioned to a few people that maybe having a quick shower and if your partner is someone that has to come home and shower immediately, hop in the shower, what your partner, there's that intimacy piece right there. And if your partner is someone where you come home and right before they go out to feed the dogs or get back in some other activity, taking the time to check in more than how was your day, what was the most exciting part of your day for that? And just getting deeper, what your question is so important and what this does is it keeps your partner knowing that you appreciate them for all of who they are, I guess I would say, and they have that in the back of their mind and they're ready to go when it's time to go. So that emotional intimacy piece has,
Amanda Testa (14:45):
That's so important because it can feel sometimes just like your roommates and you're just shouting out orders. Like you do this, I did that. You did this.
Reketta Peterson (14:55):
So being intentional is so important. And I think we miss that often because we take each other for granted, you know, but the same way you would send a card to a friend for their birthday or anything that you might do, they would give flowers to a boss is the same way we should treat our partners. But more often since we see them more often than we would see people on the outside typically.
Amanda Testa (15:21):
Yeah. And like you said earlier about not feeling like we ever been taught how to truly love another person or ourselves, and that's a big thing, right?
Reketta Peterson (15:32):
Yes. It is such a big thing. I think when I realized that in training, like an aha moment. How often do you see people loving on each other? And that's why, and take nowadays, we are telling everyone that your relationship comes first. If you are in a household with children, because children can see what a healthy relationship looks like. So when it's time for them to go out and have the relationships as the middle, otherwise they know what to look for, what to look out for, what are red flags and having boundaries for yourself. And your partner is really important because you model that for your children as well. For me, for example, I have a six year old would love to spend every waking moment with me right now. And I love that because I know she'll be a teenager in like two days and I need to have those moments, but I also have to model that this is my time right now. And I've already had time with you. And I would love to have more time with you at a later time period. But right now this is mommy's time. And what it does is it establishes that you are important enough to take your time. And she sees that, and I hope that in the future, she understands that I am important enough to have this time for me.
Amanda Testa (16:51):
I think that is so key. And it is hard to, especially if you have seen and been taught that, you know, marty-ing is the best way to be a mom which, you know, I know that comes up a lot.
Reketta Peterson (17:04):
It does. That's simply, and I don't think we always get it right, but I know for my own personal experiences and then I don't get it. Right. My daughter will let me know. And I apologize. And that's, what's key the repair work. So we're not going to always, we're flawed, we're human, but she'll say, you know what? I didn't like that. I don't think that was very nice. And then I just apologize, you know, because when we're trying to get out the door on a Monday morning, there will be times where I'm like, we gotta go, we gotta go. We gotta go.
Amanda Testa (17:34):
Yeah. And I think that, that is true. It's like the repair piece is so important. And I think too, it's like really taking care of yourself. And I, and honestly, I think it goes back to like when we first started talking about after having a baby, or during that time, you know, often it just, maybe then you have more kids and you just never get to that point of taking care of yourself. And then it comes, you know, 10 years down the line and you're like, oh wait, this is really important. And I'm curious, I would like to dig into a little more about like truly what happens in that time of pregnancy. And, you know, as we talked earlier about last month was infant mortality awareness month and infant loss and how, you know, the disparities there between BIPOC as well and how just all the things that make it more challenging.
Reketta Peterson (18:29):
Yeah. Being in a pandemic. We still have things that are happening that have been happening. And that's where I come in with my diversity and equity piece, as a BIPOC health equity consultant, I highlight the disparities that are happening for black and indigenous people of color, which stands what that’s what BIPOC stands for last month was pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. And as it stands, black and indigenous babies are losing their lives at two times, the rate of white babies. And the CDC says that 60% of this is preventable. In fact, there was also an article recently that said, if a black infant had a black pediatrician they had a higher rate survival rate than if they didn't have a black pediatrician, and so right there, we're still doing a research on that, but that can show us that it's not necessarily something in the air. It's what we're doing and how you're aligning ourselves with our clients.
Reketta Peterson (19:35):
Implicit bias is what a lot of us are unaware of. And it's like a blinder. We don't see the blind spot. We don't see what we don't know. And that's where I come in to highlight, perhaps there is more implicit bias here, perhaps you're unaware of how you are reacting to your client or not reacting to your clients.
And that is key to saving lives because my baby just turned a year old two days ago and we've made a year. And I think about how many babies did not make the year. And I also just want to quickly highlight that, like I mentioned, there's nothing in the air, so to speak, but it is not, what are some things that are missing is the racial trauma piece of it all. Not having access to quality Healthcare, this is important to me, not having access to resources for moms who are fighting and struggling with postpartum depression or OCDPMADs in general, which stands for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are really important. And that is the key to keeping health disparities low.
Amanda Testa (20:48):
And I'm wondering too, like when it comes to the changes that are needed, what would you say? Just people listening can do, like, what can we, how can we be more aware?
Reketta Peterson (21:00):
I love that. So I highlight anti-racism work, I think is really important to distinguish being anti-racist versus not a racist, because I really, a lot of individuals think, well, I'm not a racist and that's it. Well, one who gives you that right to say, I'm not a racist? You know, who has distilled that upon you and how do you check yourself if you are not a racist? So what anti-racism work, what it is, is understanding that it is a journey and it will likely never in your life because white supremacy is systemic and it's structural. And it's in every aspect of our lives. Like you just said, BIPOC child from infancy from birth on into adulthood has a higher rate of dying than a white counterpart. They didn't even do anything. They were just born. So naming that, that it's structural and systemic is important first and foremost.
Reketta Peterson (21:59):
And in the work, if you are willing to do the work is recognizing that this is a long game. This is a marathon, and it's not going to be a quick, let me donate to the black lives matter or click, let me donate to whatever organization that you feel. You can still do it, but just keeping in mind that this is a long game. And I also want to stress that in a long game, it can be isolating. It can be lonely. It really can. And I want to name that for people because I, I want to empathize with you. A lot of people are not doing the work. You might be the only one in your family, the only one in your neighborhood, but just know that reaching out to the online organization is really important that you can just continue with this work because we need people out there doing the work.
Amanda Testa (22:47):
Yeah. And I think like you say, it is, it is a long game and it's taking care of yourself. So you can keep going back and keep doing the work. And also, you know, I, I just want to name as well as that, you know, just being aware is, is a big part, but there's so much more depth that that needs to happen. I feel like, especially for white people, because there's just the more you unlearn the better. And it's like you say it is getting the support. You need to do that. So reaching out to people like you right too, in your organization to work with that, do you work mostly with organizations in this, in this field? And so I'm curious like how you would go about, you know, if you have like what size businesses you love to work with, what's your sweet spot there?
Reketta Peterson (23:34):
Yeah. So I like working with small to medium sized organizations. I tend to work with providers and that is including a majority of birthing persons, burning providers easily. So doulas, OBGYNs. I'm just naming people, specialists, learning specialists of all kinds. What happens is I typically have a virtual workshop. You listen to me speak for about 45 minutes. I answer for questions. And then we have an affinity groups where we comment and it's a brave space. What I would like to happen in that space is that you come with all questions that you might have about this community that you serve. Why is that important? Because we don't want to de-center our clients in the actual office. And so we take our comments and questions to the actual brave space and we bravely ask, or we bravely make a comment. And then we receive what we need to receive in that moment and hold ourselves accountable.
Reketta Peterson (24:33):
That is so important. And you named something there. I have a framework where self-awareness is the first step, and then we moved toward intentional change. And then intentional action is the last piece it's so important there, but first you have to become more aware of what's going on around you and what's going on within you. Is there some resistance there? There's some, I want to say, I would say a defense mechanism that comes up for you when you have to listen to something like this, or read something that you want to, tend to push it away. And that is really important because it tells you right there that there's still some work to be done. So you might not be racist, but there's still some anti racism work to be done.
Amanda Testa (25:17):
And I think you're right That action piece is a very key, important piece for companies that are looking to find support. I'm curious. Well, at the end, I want you to share more about how everybody can learn more about working with you and all of the beautiful ways you support, but there's other one other thing I wanted to speak to as well, because I think this is also an important point is, you know, just speaking to the health at every size. And I'd love to just tap into that for a minute too cause I think that is important because I think one of the things that a lot of people beat themselves up about is like trying to strive to some mythical norm that is unrealistic and definitely rooted in like white CIS, heteropatriarchy, like you said. And so all the, all that goes into that. And so I'd love to maybe if you would feel okay, speaking a little bit about the health at every size work that you do as well.
Reketta Peterson (26:02):
So I really think that is important, wasn't it until I did my own work on myself that I found that one, the BMI was built upon the idea of a white man. And so when someone says that you are overweight or obese, it's based on a body of a white man. And as you mentioned before it is a piece from white supremacy and anti-blackness, you can go back to the 18 hundreds where we had slavery, of course, and we had black bodies that were held that, how can I say this better? Okay, I'm sorry. So we had black bodies and we had black women being raped, sexually assaulted. And we had individuals in place that said, well, we want to kind of go ahead and have a hierarchy where white women are seen as the the supreme figure in being. And then everyone else can fall behind that.
Reketta Peterson (27:05):
This is nice as I can put it. And so with that came ideas about the black body that we were not human we were sub human, and we didn't feel pain as often as our white counterparts and et cetera, et cetera. So all that to say is that there was a negative outlook placed upon the black body. And we are genetically not all the same. That is a key piece too that it is okay to have the body that you have, what is not okay, is trying to fit into the idea of this euurocentric beauty standards that has been placed upon us by media and even out there with history. And so with that being said, HEAS tells us that health is not just about your physical appearance. Health is also mental and emotional, spiritual, and social economical, which is a huge piece when it comes to anti-racism work and what we can do for the internalized weight signaling that we have upon our bodies and ourselves. So when I speak to people in general HEAS, in that saying, don't lose weight, definitely not saying that. What they're saying is make sure you look at all aspects of your life. How's your mental health, how's your emotional health. A lot of people in the BIPOC community have struggled with social and economical health. How's that looking for you right now? And so it's just important to name every aspect of health instead of just focusing on the physical piece.
Amanda Testa (28:35):
And that is such a key thing, right? Cause it's not just about that one aspect. And then, and I'm wondering too, I mean, that goes hand in hand with just feeling better in general and being less burned out as a caregiver or even just as an individual.
Reketta Peterson (28:51):
Yeah. I want to speak on that a little bit. I want to just say stress does tend to get you to eat more. So you need to just be mindful of emotional eating. I think that's important to name. A lot of people are reading into intuitive eating, not sure if anyone is familiar with that one, but you can probably Google that and look it up and you can see that it's more of listening to our body, what our body needs and just being mindful of it might be eating out of stress, out of anger, out of sadness. And I think that's important to name too.
Amanda Testa (29:26):
Thank you for pointing that out as well. I think emotionally, that's such a challenging one to hold, right? Well, I feel like I could just keep talking to you. Thank you so much for sharing so much wisdom today. I'm wondering if there's anything else that maybe a question that you wish that I would've asked that I didn't ask or anything else that you want to share?
Reketta Peterson (29:48):
That's a really good question. I would like to share that I do have a book that is out for BIPOC women because we, another side here, we get 0.2% of the funding available for small businesses and that it can be very difficult. I know with me starting out with my private practice in the pandemic, I wasn't sure how I was going to do that, but it has worked out for me through consistency, hard work and networking, but the money was not there when it needed to be there. And so oftentimes we find ourselves unable to fulfill our dreams because we don't have the money to do that. All that being said, I do want to just say that I have a book coming out and what it talks about is mindset for individuals as we navigate entrepreneurship in a world that was not set up for us to navigate entrepreneurship.
Amanda Testa (30:42):
Amazing! when will it be out?
Reketta Peterson (30:45):
So I'm hoping it will be out this second week of November. So if you're listening to this right now, and even if you're not a little bit of power, if you know, for one, you can always get them that book and point out on Amazon through the Kindle app.
Amanda Testa (31:00):
And what's the title?
Reketta Peterson (31:01):
It's called Worthy. And it's a mindset experience for entrepreneurial women of color.
Amanda Testa (31:07):
Beautiful. I will definitely, and I'll make sure to put all the links for all of us too in the show notes. So you can find that information and where else can people connect with you and find you,
Reketta Peterson (31:18):
Yes, you can connect with me on Instagram. I'm at @arisecounseling I'm also a consultant. So you can also connect me at rspconsultingLLC.com and also LinkedIn, if you have, please connect with me there, it's just Reketta Peterson LPC.
Amanda Testa (31:44):
Thank you so much for Reketta again for being here. And I will make sure again, to put all those beautiful links in the show notes and anything else that, any last words?
Reketta Peterson (31:56):
No, just thank you for having me, Amanda. I really appreciate this time.
Amanda Testa (32:00):
Yes. Thank you. And thank you all for listening.