This feature was a very special find. I always aim to help women and mothers, so when I met with the brilliant Paige Bellenbaum and Dr. Catherine Birndorf, it was like a dream come true. These two women created The Motherhood Center, a perinatal day program, for postpartum depression, that blew my mind. They offer private counseling, classes (meditation, yoga, art therapy, mindfulness), group sessions for partners, and even have a nursery for the babies of their patients. Each patient has a plan, routine, and schedule that is designed to cater to their personal needs, and support them daily until they feel comfortable and embrace their connection with their baby and community. This center gives women the ability to conquer their anxieties and fears related to motherhood. These incredible doctors “mother the mother,” making sure all of their patients leave feeling like confident, connected and capable parents. Their work, and expertise is remarkable, and I hope that so many women suffering out there, read this, and go get the help they deserve.
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We opened our doors in March of 2017 – so we too are still in our infancy!
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
Dr. Birndorf is a leading Reproductive Psychiatrist and has been working in the field of womens' mental health for over 20 years. She founded and directed the Payne Whitney Women’s Program at Weill Cornell Medical Center and started the Women’s Mental Health Consortium in New York City. After leaving academics and seeing patients privately for the last 10 years, Dr. Birndorf saw a need for a more intensive kind of care for the perinatal population. The Motherhood Center opened its door in March of 2017. Creating The Day Program, an intermediate level of treatment, fills this gap for women suffering from PMADs and provides new and expecting moms a unique kind of specialized care.
Paige suffered from severe postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of her son Max 12 years ago. Dr. Birndorf was a part of her treatment team – but the two didn’t realize this connection until much later. After Paige recovered with medication and therapy – she became furious that nobody was talking about how common PMADs are and worked with a NY State Senator to draft legislation requiring new mothers to be educated about PMADs before they are discharged from the hospital, and urging OBGYN’s and pediatricians to screen for PMADs. Paige’s primary goal in life is to make sure that other women suffering from PMADs don’t have to suffer silently.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
The Motherhood Center is one of only a handful of “Perinatal Day Programs” in the U.S. Our Day Program provides clinical treatment for new and expecting mothers with severe PMADs who are having a very difficult time caring for themselves and/or the baby. Clients of the Day Program are with us 5 days a week, 5 hours a day, and their babies are cared for in the nursery. Clients participate in therapeutic support groups, mindfulness, meditation, art therapy, yoga and more, and each one is followed by an individual therapist and psychiatrist that specializes in PMADs. What truly differentiates us – is that unlike the handful of other Day Programs – we are not affiliated with a hospital, we are a standalone center – se we have the ability to create a warm, nurturing, non-clinical environment for women receiving treatment. It feels like a giant living room!
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Believe it or not – considering the fact that 1 in 5 women develop a PMAD in the perinatal period - we are the first of it’s kind treatment facility like this in New York City! We pride ourselves on providing excellent clinical treatment. As we tell all women who come in – we have never seen a client not get better – and it’s true! Treatment works – and everyone who walks through our doors feels better and starts to enjoy motherhood the way she had hoped for.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
We mother the mother. We give her strength, confidence, connection to her baby and to community, we give her skills to combat her depression and anxiety, we give her permission to feel ambivalent, guilty, shameful, angry, and we help her to introduce joyful moments in between. We also save lives.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Dr. Birndorf: Listening to people’s stories and helping patients identify what is really troubling them. This allows patients to make decisions that are right for them.
Paige: To witness a new mother come to us a shell of herself – scared, isolated, afraid, sad and overwhelmed – feeling like she is the only woman in the world feeling this way – and to watch her leave – strong, connected, assured, capable and ready. There is no better feeling in the world!
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
Dr. Birndorf: So many! I love exploring neighborhoods and finding cute cafes to enjoy dessert and tea with my family and friends
Paige: The Red Hook Swimming Pool! It’s a public pool in Brooklyn almost in my back yard that is open in the summer. I call it the Red Hook Country Club!
How do you benefit mamas?
We hold them in their darkest hour and help them find lots of light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
Dr. Birndorf: "You held hope for me when I had none."
Paige: "You helped me become the mother I always wanted to be and you gave my son the mama he deserves."
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field.
Postpartum Support International (PSI). They provide resources for new and expecting mothers across the U.S. that are experiencing PMADs.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Dr. Birndorf: Know yourself. Self-awareness is the most appealing thing about someone.
Paige: If you tell me I can’t do it or it can’t be done – watch me do it!
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Dr. Birndorf: Delegate. Enlist help whenever you can! And when you can’t, multi-task!
Paige: Multi tasking – constantly! Know yourself and own who your own. My goal is to feel content with who I am.
How can our readers contact you?
The Motherhood Center
205 Lexington Ave. 10th Floor
New York, NY 10016