For our final blog in this series, Beyond Your OB: Building Your Best Pregnancy Support Team, we are providing information about how Registered Dietician’s and Maternal Mental Health Providers can provide crucial support to expecting mothers. Below we chatted with Tara Durden, RD, and Keira Merkovsky, LCSW, about how each of their fields can assist mothers throughout their pregnancy and beyond.


Registered Dietician/Nutritionist:

Nutritional needs during pregnancy drastically change. And while a solid prenatal can help fill in the gaps, a supplement is just that – a supplement, and not the full picture of what your diet should look like. Remember: you and your baby are depending on vital nutrients to support development!

NMS alumna and Functional Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Tara Durden, offers these insights and tips for a healthier pregnancy:

“As a Functional Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, specializing in women’s health, I am uniquely trained to provide personalized nutrition support, tailored to individuals unique needs. I specifically help women optimize digestion, hormone health and energy levels by combining both holistic and scientific methods. I help take the guesswork out about what and how to nourish your body throughout this important time.”

Tara’s tips:
  • Adapt daily, things change quickly so try to stay as open-minded and flexible as possible
  • To get through morning sickness: 
    • Find foods that you’re able to tolerate and that sound good to you
    • Avoid going too long on an empty stomach (this can make you feel even more nauseated)
    • Get sunshine and movement in as much as you can (light stretching, yoga, outdoor walks — on the beach or in the park, pregnancy Pilates/Barre)
  • Though weight changes can be scary, try not to focus on the number. Remember that your weight will fluctuate due to fluid changes, blood volume and other factors such as genetics.
  • When you’re able to get some exercise in, include weight training a couple of times per week if you’re able to. Maintaining muscle mass during pregnancy and carrying through to postpartum will benefit you more than you know! 

For more information about the types of services Tara provides, visit her website or connect with her on Instagram at @nutritionwithtara_.


Maternal Mental Health Provider:

Mental Health Providers can play a crucial role in supporting women during pregnancy by addressing various emotional, psychological, and behavioral aspects of this life-changing experience. Here are some ways in which a psychologist, therapist or counselor, can be beneficial during pregnancy:

  • Emotional Support: Pregnancy can evoke a wide range of emotions, including joy, anxiety, fear, and stress. Maternal Mental Health Providers can provide a safe and supportive space for women to express and explore their feelings, helping them navigate the emotional ups and downs associated with pregnancy.
  • Managing Anxiety and Depression: Some women may experience heightened anxiety or depression during pregnancy. A mental health provider can assess the severity of these conditions and provide evidence-based therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), to help manage symptoms.
  • Coping with Pregnancy-Related Stressors: Mental health providers can assist women in developing effective coping strategies for managing stressors related to pregnancy, such as changes in body image, relationship dynamics, and concerns about parenting.
  • Supporting Relationship Dynamics: Pregnancy can impact relationships, and couples may face challenges in communication and adjusting to new roles. Mental health providers can provide couples therapy or individual counseling to address relationship issues and enhance communication skills.
  • Parenting Preparation: Maternal mental health providers can offer guidance and support in preparing for the emotional and psychological aspects of becoming a parent. This may include exploring parenting styles, expectations, and fears related to the upcoming changes in life.
  • Body Image and Self-Esteem: Pregnancy often brings changes in body image, and some women may struggle with self-esteem issues. A therapist or counselor can help women explore and enhance their self-esteem and body image, fostering a positive self-perception during pregnancy.
  • Postpartum Planning: Anticipating the postpartum period is essential, and psychologists can help women prepare emotionally for the challenges and adjustments that may arise after childbirth. This can include discussions about the potential for postpartum depression and strategies for seeking support.

It’s important for women to seek the support of a licensed and qualified mental health provider who specializes in treating pregnant patients. They can work in collaboration with obstetricians, midwives, and other healthcare providers to ensure comprehensive care for the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby.

Keira Merkovsky, LCSW, our resident Maternal Mental Health Provider is an excellent resource for new and expecting moms who are seeking additional support during pregnancy. You can find her by visiting her website, Counseling with Keira.

We hope you have enjoyed this series and have gained insight on the types of professionals you can add to your pregnancy support team! As always, please reach out to us at hello@newmomschool.com if you are seeking specific recommendations for anything related to your pregnancy or postpartum needs.