Susan Marchioni, LMHC, PMH-C
My birth story.
Giving birth almost killed me. I was 28 and 30 with my first two pregnancies and it was nothing like the storybook fairytale I had expected.
As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mom. Having children and raising a family was my childhood dream. I couldn't imagine any other choice and eagerly looked forward to this time of my life.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I expected that labor and delivery would be long and painful. I assumed that any discomfort would be quickly replaced with nothing but joy, happiness, and love for this new baby.
That's not what happened. Delivery with my first child, while difficult and painful, was manageable. I delivered vaginally and naturally. I then experienced the rare, and life-threatening complication of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). PPH is the leading cause of maternal mortality in childbirth. I required an emergency dilation and curettage (D&C) to stop the bleeding. And because I had not received an epidural during labor and delivery, the D&C was done without anesthesia. The pain of labor was minor in comparison.
Delivering my second child, also vaginally and without medication, I experienced severe back labor due to my baby's face-up position, or occiput posterior fetal position (OP) in the birth canal. The OP position causes extreme pressure and can cause severe pain along the mother's spine during labor and delivery. My baby's position, combined with the force of my pushing, broke my coccyx (tailbone) during delivery. I hemorrhaged again and needed another emergency D&C.
Despite the complications, I was discharged from the hospital only 48 hours after each birth. I was deeply traumatized, torn, stitched, and very sore. After breaking my coccyx, I could barely sit, hold my older child, or drive. I returned to a new house I barely knew in a town I recently moved to. I lacked family and friends for support. My husband was building a new business and had little time to spare.
Exhaustion, isolation, loneliness, intense sadness, and the intrusive thoughts of running away and never coming back became my world. I felt numb, going through the motions of daily life. Where was the joy? The bliss? The feelings of bonding and falling in love with my baby I had expected? What was Wrong With Me? I felt ashamed and a failure as a mother. When I saw other mothers, they appeared better equipped and adjusting well. I felt a crushing sadness and intense guilt. I thought these feelings would last forever.
Eventually, I did learn about the signs and symptoms of PPAD. But it took the tragic death of a local woman from PPAD to seek help. I received the help I needed, and three years later, in collaboration with my ob/gyn and counselor, I became a mom to a third child. I had a beautiful birth experience and the joy and contentment followed.
My experience of both the trauma and triumph over PPAD motivated me to pursue a career in mental health counseling. As both a mom and mental health provider specializing in maternal mental health, my desire is to support and educate other moms about mood disorders that may occur during pregnancy or postpartum.
No mother should suffer alone and I am living proof that you can attain the joy and happiness of motherhood that you deserve.
Please reach out so you can become the mom you are meant to be. I am here to help.
Education | Trainings | Experience
I am a licensed and certified perinatal mental health counselor with professional training in maternal mental health. I also am a certified complicated grief-informed counselor.
I support the emotional health of women during the perinatal period of pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. For 1 in 7* women will experience a perinatal mood disturbance as a complication of pregnancy and childbirth. For these women, their experience may be overshadowed by extreme and sometimes debilitating anxiety, intense feelings of being overwhelmed, as well as profound sadness rather than the joy and euphoria that is so often highly anticipated and expected. For these women, the organic hormonal shifts and intense emotions and mood swings that emerge or intensify during the perinatal period can create a less than blissful and joyful childbirth experience.
I counsel women through PPAD, pregnancy loss, traumatic birth, anxiety, depression, stress, parenting, divorce, and the grief that can result from life's natural and unexpected progression.
- Massachusetts licensed mental health counselor
- Certified perinatal mental health counselor
- Maternal Mental Health Professional Certificate Training. Training provided by Postpartum Support International and 2020 Mom Project
- Complicated grief-informed counselor. Training completed at The Center for Complicated Grief, Columbia University, New York, NY
- MA in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
- Family and Individual outreach clinician at South Shore Mental Health, Quincy, MA
- Visiting Moms Program Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JF&CS), Waltham, MA
- Infant and Maternal Mental Health trainings at JF&CS with a focus on trauma and PTSD
- Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorder training with Postpartum Support International
- Parenting Journey facilitator training with The Family Center, Somerville, MA
I continue to develop both as a clinician and personally through attending relevant professional development seminars, workshops, and conferences.
* American Psychological Association
Maternal Mental Health Matters Because Moms Matter