Parijat Deshpande is a perinatal wellness expert, counseling women through high-risk pregnancies. In this interview Parijat explains how she came to this work; after her own high-risk pregnancy (which kept her bed-ridden for weeks) and the very premature birth of her son, Parijat started a new business, dedicated to helping women and their partners navigate high-risk, high stress pregnancies. Parijat talks about the difficulties of switching niches—in her case, her career stopped with her pregnancy—and the lack of information readily available on high-risk pregnancies. She explains how she’s grown her business, and what technologies have helped this process.
[1:45] Parijat discusses her background as a clinically trained therapist and teacher at UC Berkeley. She also worked at a nonprofit organization. While on bed rest during her own high-risk pregnancy, Parijat realized how little practical support there is for women in that situation. She was on bed rest since the 6th week, and had 8 complications; her son was born very early. Parijat remembers thinking “If we get to take him home, I need to switch my career because I don’t want any more women to go through this feeling they have no support.”
[5:04] Parijat discusses the specifics of her bed rest; she says she was on level 2 of 4, getting up once or twice a day and unable to climb stairs. Eventually she wasn’t allowed to get up even for food, and then she entered the hospital for bed rest, for the last 15 days of her pregnancy. Parijat explains that more than 50% of women on bed rest during pregnancy show signs of depression.
[7:32] Parijat talks about her son’s birth at 24 weeks, 5 days. He spent 109 days in the NICU, and came home the day after his due date. Now, three years later, he’s doing very well.
[9:00] Here Parijat discusses shifting from psychotherapy to more practical points in counseling; she works with patients on talking to their doctors and gives them simple techniques to do in a hospital bed to reduce stress. Her practice is tailored to each individual client, because each pregnancy is different.
[9:55] Parijat talks about how she consults with her patients when they’re confined to their homes or a hospital. She does video call sessions, with phone calls as needed for some clients.
[10:25] Parijat explains how she gets introduced to a new a client; often OBs, MFNs, and periontologists refer patients to her. With one recent patient, Parijat focused mostly on the woman’s anxiety. She and the patient set up a girl’s night so the woman could reconnect with her friends, from whom she’d been cut off during bed rest.
[12:21] Parijat also offers support after the baby is born; she has developed a specific post-partum program after high-risk pregnancies. It begins when the baby is 2 to 3 months old, because before that it’s hard to know if stress is caused by sleep deprivation, or a new trauma unfolding in the body. She follows up with patients, at about 10 weeks out.
[14:05] Parijat talks about how she established her practice by connecting with OBs, chiropractors, fertility consultants, and other medical professionals involved in pregnancies—she reaches out to these referral sources. Parijat began marketing locally with professionals she met during her own pregnancy. She has branched out through social media (twitter, Facebook groups specific to pregnancy); in this way Parijat has made connections across the country, and sees patients from coast to coast. From Facebook she moves to a phone call. She runs a private Facebook group presenting information and answering questions. She’s been at this new business for nine months.
[17:30] Parijat speaks to her business goals: she’d like to do more one-on-one work, and later, create a course women go can through with their partners, which gives them all the information they need to navigate a high risk pregnancy—there’s not much practical information available to women now. Eventually she’d like to work with couples in difficult pregnancies.
[18:38] Here Parijat talks about the stresses the woman’s partner faces in a difficult pregnancy—financially, emotionally, etc.
[20:15] Parijat says 10% of all pregnancies per year are high risk, and that number is rising as more women become pregnant later in life, and through fertility treatments.
[21:15] Parijat talks about her current business climate. She has openings in her practice right now, and some times of year are busier than others. She’s actively networking.
[21:42] Parijat believes the biggest challenge in her work is educating women and men about stress management, and how stress impacts pregnancies. In this and many other areas, people look to their doctors for all the answers—but doctors don’t know everything. This leaves women feeling helpless, when they’re actually not. Stress makes a complicated, early term pregnancy more likely, but getting this message out has been hard. Sometimes women get conflicting information from their doctors.
[24:25] Parijat talks about her social media profile: she publishes a weekly blog, has a YouTube channel (with videos for women and men), and just started using Facebook live. She offers one healthy pregnancy tip per Facebook live posting, keeping the feeds as short as possible.
[27:30] Parijat says that Facebook live gives a personal touch to her practice—it lets people see there’s an actual person behind the business.
[28:56] Parijat talks about her daily work routine. She puts in 15-18 hours a week on her business; most of her time is now spent at home with her young son. Her work hours are split between client sessions, outreach with doctors, researching, and putting together presentable information. She’s part-time until her son is in school.
[29:55] Parijat was in practice for five years before shifting to high-risk pregnancy counseling. The shift was great for her—she wanted to be an OB growing up—so this change is exciting, she feels she’s always been meant to do this work. But it’s hard; she went through years of training, then her career stopped (not on her own terms), and Parijat had to start over.
[33:15] Parijat offers her advice on switching niches: be really clear on why you’re switching. If passion is driving the change, take the leap. It’s worth it.
BIO – Parijat Deshpande, Therapist & Wellness Expert
Parijat Deshpande is the leading perinatal wellness expert who works with women during a high-risk pregnancy to help them manage their stress, anxiety, overwhelm and fear. Combining her professional training in clinical psychology with her expertise in women’s wellness and her personal experience with a very high-risk pregnancy, Parijat guides women to feel calmer and more confident during one of the scariest times of their life so they can lower their risk of additional pregnancy complications and increase their chances of a healthier pregnancy and healthier baby no matter what complications they’re facing. You can find out more about Parijat here.
To leave a review on iTunes, click here.
Replays of past episodes can be found here.