“One minute, I just need to pop dinner into the oven for my kids,” Dr. Alice Domar says into the phone. There’s muffled noise in the background. “We can make it together,” she adds with a laugh.
Besides cooking for her children, Domar talks about children, more specifically babies, all day long. With a doctorate degree in health psychology and three pregnancies under her belt, she acts as a renaissance woman when it comes to giving advice about expecting. Her clientele ranges from fertility patients to breast cancer survivors and everything in between.
Domar, founder of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, currently works as a senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and teaches obstetrics at Harvard Medical School. In the little spare time Domar has, she likes to write.
In her book, Finding Calm for the Expected Mom, she dishes tips and tricks for staying calm and mentally healthy during pregnancy, something a lot of pregnant women struggle with.
“I wrote the book because I talk to women going through infertility all the time, and many of these women find themselves mentally exhausted and depressed once they finally get pregnant,” says Domar. “My thinking is if someone who wants to be pregnant more than anyone in the world is truly miserable, it can happen to anybody.”
Domar hopes to help women normalize these experiences though the book and her practice. She provides a quiz at the end of each chapter. The quizzes, while adding light humor to the situation, also educate women on which chapters they need to focus on. Throughout Finding Calm, as well as during her therapy sessions, Domar feels perfectly at ease bringing up topics that are scarcely talked about, such as maxi pads and excess fluids.
“It can be disconcerting when strangers touch your belly or when your mother-in-law critiques your name choices,” she says. “I want to talk about the stuff no one talks about, because it’s important.”
Domar’s greatest asset as a therapist is her multi-faceted past, which is colored by a unique blend of experiences that led her to practice health psychology. With two kids, a doctorate degree in health psychology, professional experience, and a lot of research based knowledge, Domar’s mix of scientific expertise and personal involvement create the perfect foundation for her career as a therapist for women dealing with physical and hormonal changes.
She feels comfortable talking about her personal life, and uses her studies and her own pregnancies to relate to her patients. Domar recalls her first pregnancy, in which she was so nauseous and fatigued she told her mother she didn’t want to be pregnant anymore.
“My mom said, ‘Tough luck. Suck it up’,” Domar remembers. “That’s something I always remind my patients; all these changes and emotions are temporary and in the end it’s worth it.”
As an obstetrician and a mother, Domar’s best tips involve focusing on the coming months with an accurate perspective.
“It’s important to anticipate you may feel anxious, you may feel depressed. Anticipate your body may feel uncomfortable as it grows and that your partner may not understand your thoughts and feelings,” says Domar. “However none of it will last forever. I believe peace of mind is priceless, and that is exactly what I am trying to help women achieve.”