Interview with Sharon Thomason, PhD of The MomSource

Sharon ThomasonSharon Thomason, PhD is the founder and owner of The MomSource, a private practice located in West Hartford (CT) serving families in their childbearing years, as they embark in their new journey of parenthood.

She is the one of the few Connecticut providers who specialize in parenthood and particularly in the emotional needs tied to pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period. She is wonderful resource for practitioners and families in our state, as she shares her expertise with compassion and everlasting passion. Learn more about her mission to prevent and treat perinatal mood disorders, by reading the interview below!

What led you to starting The MomSource? Since I began working with postpartum women many years ago, I found a lack of resources, both practical and emotional, as contributing factors to the development of perinatal anxiety and mood disorders. While devoting time and attention to my psychotherapy practice and my own growing family, there was not time to devote to developing a preventative service. As my daughter approached graduation from high school, I realized my goal of developing a consultation service with the intention of prevention.

How can families benefit from seeking services through The MomSource? If we can plan ahead of time, during pregnancy or even before, the transition to parenthood can be much easier. I help parents develop a plan: what kind of help might we need? Who do we already have in our support system who can help, and what are my helpers’ strengths? What practical tools are available to help us as we make this transition? I meet with the couple, identify their needs, and help them develop a plan to meet those needs. I am available after the baby is born to help provide support, and provide referrals for resources.

Are your services covered by insurance plans? Can women receiving Medicaid access your services? MomSource consultations are not covered by insurance. Insurance covers clinical diagnosis and those clinical services are best provided in my psychotherapy services at Psychological Health Associates.

If not, what suggestions do you have for families who cannot afford your services but still need the support and guidance? I can refer to others who can best meet their needs. The Nurturing Families Program provides much support for low income families, our free “Blue Mamas” group meets in West Hartford weekly, and in Middletown and New Britain monthly, and there are many Moms clubs and Meetups, including the Central CT New Parent Resources, which provide free and low cost support networks.

In your opinion, how can regular people better support families in the prenatal and early postpartum period? Acknowledge and accept that all feelings at that time surrounding pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period are not always positive: it is normal. Ask the question: “and, how are YOU doing?” so that you can open up that accepting and safe space to talk about the new parents’ reality and needs.  Offer what you can do-if you are making a big pot of soup, can you bring some to the family that can be used for an easy lunch? Can you walk an older child to the bus stop so Mom doesn’t have to get out early with the baby? Can you give a lift, or pick up something for them at the store? Can you ask a new Mom out for a walk? Be friendly!

Have you noticed, during your time in the field, any changes in terms of the culture surrounding perinatal mood disorders and emotional well-being of new families?SLOWLY, more recently more awareness that all is not unicorns and rainbows, but still SO much STIGMA and myths.  For example, when I meet with women in my clinical practice, one of the first things they tell me, is “I’m not going to hurt my baby or myself”. I make it a point to meet with family members and dispel the myth that everyone suffering from emotional and mental issues postpartum wants to hurt her baby or herself.  Education about the complete range of suffering and help is needed.

 What do you like the most about your job?They get better! Often, really fast! And it is making a difference. The research shows that the early years and the ability of parents to connect with babies early on affects their brain development, their ability to self-soothe, and to persist in later learning! What a difference it would make in the world, if all families were to get the help they need.

 If you could change anything about current policies impacting families during the perinatal period, what would that be?

  •  Paid parental leave
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Collaboration with return to work
  • Quality affordable daycare

 What do you like to do in your spare time? Connecting with my family, gardening, yoga, cross-country skiing, hiking, cooking

 Three words to describe you: Loving, Hopeful, Creative

Thank you Sharon and good luck with all that you do for our local families with so much expertise, love and compassion!