Family Planning for Docs - Thriving or Surviving?

Thriving or Surviving with Dr. Pip Houghton

August 09, 2023 Family Planning for Docs Team Season 1 Episode 6
Thriving or Surviving with Dr. Pip Houghton
Family Planning for Docs - Thriving or Surviving?
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Family Planning for Docs - Thriving or Surviving?
Thriving or Surviving with Dr. Pip Houghton
Aug 09, 2023 Season 1 Episode 6
Family Planning for Docs Team

“Your family needs you to be well” - Dr. Pip Houghton

In this episode, we chat with Dr. Pip Houghton, a rural family doctor and mother of 3. We talk about perinatal mental health, postpartum depression, transitioning from medical trainee to physician-parent and the importance of online communities.

We appreciate your feedback - please leave a comment and subscribe so you never miss a new episode!


Contact Information

Dr. Phillippa (Pip) Houghton, MBBS. CCFP



Dr. Houghton attended medical school in Wollongong, NSW, Australia. After completing her degree she attended UBC for residency training in family medicine. Prior to studying medicine she completed a B.Sc. in Kinesiology at the University of Victoria and spent time working in the fitness industry as well as in exercise rehabilitation.

Dr. Houghton is a rural family doctor with a passion for supporting new mamas and a special interest in perinatal mental health care. She is dedicated to providing evidence-based content on perinatal mental health and the common issues that women and families face in pregnancy the first postpartum year. Her hope is that through education and advocacy women will feel more supported and less alone as they navigate their transition to motherhood.

Show Notes Transcript

“Your family needs you to be well” - Dr. Pip Houghton

In this episode, we chat with Dr. Pip Houghton, a rural family doctor and mother of 3. We talk about perinatal mental health, postpartum depression, transitioning from medical trainee to physician-parent and the importance of online communities.

We appreciate your feedback - please leave a comment and subscribe so you never miss a new episode!


Contact Information

Dr. Phillippa (Pip) Houghton, MBBS. CCFP



Dr. Houghton attended medical school in Wollongong, NSW, Australia. After completing her degree she attended UBC for residency training in family medicine. Prior to studying medicine she completed a B.Sc. in Kinesiology at the University of Victoria and spent time working in the fitness industry as well as in exercise rehabilitation.

Dr. Houghton is a rural family doctor with a passion for supporting new mamas and a special interest in perinatal mental health care. She is dedicated to providing evidence-based content on perinatal mental health and the common issues that women and families face in pregnancy the first postpartum year. Her hope is that through education and advocacy women will feel more supported and less alone as they navigate their transition to motherhood.

Radha Sharma: welcome to Season 1, Episode 6 of Family Planning for Docs - Thriving or Surviving. This podcast is an extension of our platform at, a website created for Canadian medical trainees to highlight useful information about family planning and a medical career. Our group has a mission to inform medical trainees about their options regarding family planning while navigating training, career and all things in their personal life. Our research has demonstrated that personal stories are highly impactful, and we hope to provide access to a diverse number of stories, to current trainees. On our podcast we hope to capture the stories of medical professionals who have navigated the training process and a medical career while planning parenthood, parenting and the support that they had along the way.

Radha Sharma: In this episode we have Dr. Pip Houghton. We are thrilled to have you on our podcast today and just a warm welcome and thank you on behalf of the entire team at Family Planning for Docs.

Phillippa Houghton: Thanks for having me. I'm very excited to connect with you and talk about this topic.

Radha Sharma: Awesome. So for the listeners that are tuning in - Dr. Pip is not a stranger to podcasting and we will also link her website in the show notes from today's episode at So all things resourced and talked about on the episode can be found in the show notes. 

Radha Sharma: What does a week in the life of Dr. Pip look like?

Phillippa Houghton: Yeah. So what does that look like? I'm still figuring that out. So I am a family doctor by training. I did previously have my own practice but recently moved communities. So I did have to close my practice as part of that move. And since landing in our new community, I haven't gone back into, you know, traditional family practice, so to speak. But I have been doing a bit of addictions and outreach primary care. So you know, those are a couple of days a week. I do sort of half days providing virtual support and in the perinatal mental health field and then the rest of the time - I'm a mom. I don't work full time, and at this stage I can't really fathom a world where I was working full time, because it’s a lot with 3 littles. So typically my work week is 2 full days and 2 afternoons, and then the rest of the time I'm with my kids. 

Radha Sharma: Amazing. It sounds like 4 or 5 different jobs. And being a mother is definitely half of them. 

Phillippa Houghton: Yes, yeah, there is. I enjoy being in many different areas and sort of diversifying what I do. It's nice to have different experiences. But yeah, keeping track of just the administrative burden of 4 or 5 different sites and responsibilities is a lot

Radha Sharma: How many years of training did it take you to get to where you are now?

Phillippa Houghton: My undergraduate degree is from the University of Victoria. I did a BSc. in Kinesiology and then I studied medicine in Australia, at the University of Wilmington. So that was a 4 year MBBS. And then I came back to BC for my residency, which I did in the Comox Valley and Campbell River - so that was UBC Strathcona site, and that was a 2 year family Practice Residency.

Phillippa Houghton: And then, since then I've collected various certificates, some courses to sort of land me where I am here. I have a certificate through Postpartum Support International and Perinatal Mental Health, Support and Care. And then I've done some certificates in addictions medicine. 

Radha Sharma: Amazing. That sounds like a very diverse sort of reservoir in your practice, which is so cool. How did you get involved in perinatal and postpartum care specifically?

Phillippa Houghton: yeah. So that's a great question. Because I think those of us who work in perinatal mental health support, we often come into it because of our personal story. hose of you who have seen me online or listen to other podcast interviews know that my journey to pregnancy was not straightforward. I had 3 pregnancy losses. I had a labor and delivery that did not go the way I had imagined, and there was a lot of grief and feelings around that. And then transitioning to postpartum was a huge shock to me. I was a resident when I had my first baby.

And I guess arrogantly I had presumed that as a resident of family medicine, where our business is families - that somehow I would be better prepared for the transition to parenthood. And I wasn't - I was gobsmacked. So I didn’t land in a place of postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression, because I had really good support. I had a close network of friends who are going through parenthood at the same time. I have good insight into myself, and into what I need to keep well, but I could see how, if I were in a different set of circumstances, it would be so easy to end up with mental health distress. And so there was a part of me right from almost day one postpartum of like - why have we not prepared people better for this, including myself as a medical professional. And then the other piece was, I had a good friend go through postpartum depression shortly after my baby was born, and just watching the journey she walked and the support she did, and did not get in her journey back to wellness. You know, sort of the combination of the 2 really spearheaded that interest in perinatal mental health.

Radha Sharma: Thank you for sharing your story, and I think it's so incredible that you are so outspoken about what you've gone through, and hopefully those that are listening that have been in similar situations can kind of resonate with you. 

Phillippa Houghton: One, as you said at the, you know the opening of your podcast is - there's power in in stories and sharing stories, and especially in motherhood, the power of peers and the power of you know the narrative of motherhood is so profound, and we don't create enough space for it. And where we really don't create enough space for it - which is why you're doing this is for physicians entering parentage. You know, there's definitely elements of motherhood and medicine that are hard to replicate in our peer groups. Unless we have other physician parents around us 

Radha Sharma: Definitely that peer to peer support is so important - Did you have any peer networks or mentors when you were thinking about parenthood and in your journey?

Phillippa Houghton: I mean. Yes and no. I definitely had not immediate preceptors, but preceptors sort of on the periphery of my training who had had children early in their careers, but they were years ahead of me at that stage. So while they could offer sort of mentorship and guidance, there wasn't that peer to peer support. I didn't have anyone going through the exact same things as I was at the same time. I was at a rural training site, too, so there were only a handful of residents you know, at one time to lean on. So you know, I, in terms of peer to peer mentoring or close mentoring, I would say no. But I had great friends who weren’t in medicine, who were great sources of support from a parenting perspective. 

Radha Sharma: I've just been learning about how important it is to have people in your corner that can relate to you, because, being a parent is such a separate identity in and of itself, and the roles and responsibilities that come with that are so different. 

Phillippa Houghton: And I think that's you know, that's the hard part of being a physician, especially a female physician and then entering parenthood is that you know you've spent the better part of what 15 years training to be medicine. So your identity is so caught up in medicine, and then you go into parenthood where your identity really pivots. Yeah. But it's very different from what you're used to, and so can be really uncomfortable navigating like who you are, especially when you're on parental leave or maternity leave, and no longer in that medicine world that you've spent most of your life working towards.

Radha Sharma: And for you - what was kind of the inspiration or motivation to be a parent? Was it modeled for you when you were younger, or was it something you kind of always knew that you wanted to be?

Phillippa Houghton: I think it was just always, always part of the picture. I do remember you know, sort of arrogantly, as I started medicine thinking like, Oh, I'll have babies like late in my thirties, and then I'm sitting in a lecture with a fertility specialist like going through how much your fertility declines as you get older and going. Oh, my goodness, I'm already behind schedule. This is very, you know, time-sensitive, and not having a good appreciation for it until that one lecture, and then really realizing like, No, I actually, if this is important to me, I have to be intentional about what my plans are.

Radha Sharma: What did planning look like for you? I know you said that you were pregnant in residency. 

Phillippa Houghton: I knew that we were going to start trying for a family pretty much, you know once residency kind of kicked off, and we felt settled and stable in our new community and the residency program because at that stage I think I was 29 approaching 30. I had this lofty idea in my mind that I was gonna have 4 children before I turned 36, I think. Oh, okay, I mean, I'm not that far off. 

Radha Sharma: Okay. Yeah, 3 is close to 4. 

Phillippa Houghton: I have 3. I'm not having 4. But you know I had a very particular idea of what I wanted my family to look like, and on what timeframe and just presumed like, because I decided that that was the way it was gonna go - and alas! That is not the way things work. 

Phillippa Houghton: So getting pregnant wasn't an issue. Staying pregnant was an issue. So I had a number of miscarriages. Had the whole work up, eventually found out I had undifferentiated connective tissue disease, was started on hydroxychloroquine to see if that helped - we weren’t confident that it would - and then the subsequent pregnancy, after starting it, stuck. So I mean, whether that's good luck or coincidence, or the meds who knows? But then have had subsequently 3 healthy pregnancies. My timeline timeline was blown out of the water because of the losses, you know, and then time to get pregnant again after the losses and the work up, and like waiting the recommended time frame after starting hydroxychloroquine. And all of that was very stressful. You know the kind of watching the months and the cycles tick by, and thinking like this is not my timeline, this is not my timeline. And feeling the end of residency approaching. And  really also feeling quite stressed about the financial implication of you know -  I wanted to have at least one baby, actually 2 in residency, so that I had that financial security of maternity leave for a year and starting to reconcile with the fact that like, okay, maybe it's only going to be one baby. But if it's not one baby, what are we gonna do? If it's not - because it's hard, financially, as you know, with all that student debt.

Phillippa Houghton: So things just didn't go the way I had imagined. So you know, speaking from a mental health perspective, there was a lot of having to like pivot, work with thoughts and learn to be okay with things being different than what we'd imagined.

Radha Sharma: I can't imagine how isolating that must have been for you, especially going through that period of time where you're just kind of waiting and having that anxiety. How did you cope with all the stress and anxiety at that time?

Phillippa Houghton: I mean a few, a few things. I've always been someone who exercises. And so I tried to maintain that as best I could, even with, you know, things that were happening in my body and not feeling so great. Physically, I always tried to prioritize exercise for mental health, and still do, even though that has changed. It's gone from, you know, high intensity workouts to walking. The other elements - I have a very supportive, very involved husband who I can talk through anything with, who is there to take anything off my plate if I need it, like he is a true partner. He's not in medicine, he's but he has a full time career. He is very much a partner in everything related to our parenting journey. So he, you know a lot of my coping is a credit to him, being there every step of the way.

Phillippa Houghton: I do have to say that my program director in residency was amazing. So supportive the program from day, one from my first miscarriage until my first baby was born, and

you know the workups I was having to do, having to leave our rural community to go to a bigger center for specialty consults and everything else. They were supportive with every single thing. 

Radha Sharma: That's awesome. 

Phillippa Houghton: And you know, and I hear stories from other people who have very unsupported program directors and who really have to struggle with that burden of I want to be a parent but my program director expects X, Y, Z of me, or I know I won't be supported. you know, and the stress and toll that would have taken if I'd been in that situation, would it be an entirely different, so very much feel blessed to have had that support from my program. Not that that should be unusual - I would hope that all programs are supportive. But I know that that's not the case. 

Radha Sharma: Like yours - like a lot of program directors are supportive. And I think, as we see younger and younger residents or physicians that are talking about their experiences, it's very apparent that the the environment and the culture has shifted quite a ton from 20 or 30 years ago, for example.

Phillippa Houghton: Yes, and for anyone who's listening who does support residents and learners like really know the power of your support and your kind words is so meaningful. So I do - I thank the program for that support. My primary preceptor and family medicine - who is a male receptor was phenomenal like, you know. He was so understanding, so supportive. He checked in with me. I just felt very seen and very supported by the people who were involved in my training, and I won't ever forget that. 

Phillippa Houghton: And you know, moving forward if I were working with a learner in the future who had any sort of stress or circumstance that they needed you know, to take a break from their learning, I would 100% say, just take it. And I had one preceptor saying, just take the time like residency will always be here, just take the time to heal physically and emotionally before you come back, and then it'll be here. It's fine, you know, graduating off cycle or taking that extra time off is not a crisis. 

Radha Sharma: Even you just saying that - or other people who are well within their career - and normalizing it - it just makes us feel better. And then you’re like, what’s the problem with graduating off-cycle or taking that time off?

Phillippa Houghton: So like 5 years down the road, 5 years after graduating, you will not care if you are 6 months behind your peers, or a year behind your peers, or if you have to wait a full cycle to write your exams, you will not care. It feels so huge in the moment. But you have such a long life of practicing medicine and a short window of fertility if that's something that's important to you 

Radha Sharma: So you have 3 kids. When did you have each of the 3 then? 

Phillippa Houghton: So I had my first in 2018, towards the end of my second year of family medicine residency. And then I had my second in 2020, you know, pretty peak of COVID, and I was just shy of a year into practice. And then I had my third, a year and a bit ago. So 2022, so

about 3 and a half years into practice I guess when of actual practice, when you take out the maternity leaves. And up until my third was born, I had my own family practice, and then we moved around when the third was born.

Radha Sharma: We were chatting before the recording started about that transition period of you know, you being just a partner to someone or someone's daughter to now being a mother. A lot of people must be in the position where it does feel a little bit daunting to have that, plus this title of being a physician or resident, whatever. Can you talk to us a little bit about your experience with that transition? 

Phillippa Houghton: Yeah. So I think, no matter what your roles are before parenthood, there is going to be tricky moments with your role transition as you become a parent, as you become a mother, you know, prior to parenthood, your roles probably were very predominantly professional, partner, friend. And you are probably able to dictate a lot of how you showed up in those roles. Maybe not so much with your professional role, but certainly, like partnerships and friends. You can really kind of dictate how you show up in those relationships.

Phillippa Houghton: And then suddenly you become a parent, and the baby dictates how you can show up in that role. And it all happens so fast, and especially when we're in medicine as we're talking about before you started recording, you have spent the better part of your life training and preparing for this, you know, I mean yes, there's undergrad and medical school and residency. But let's be honest. We start preparing for this like in eighth grade, right like the steps start early for many of us. So it's being the better part of our lives - this focus and fixation on

medicine. And so our roles are so heavily weighted as a medical professional, and often

because of the time and the intensity of the training. We've lost touch with the other things that make us who we are. And so then we enter parenthood which is a transition and a surprise for all humans but sometimes we enter parenthood having lost ourselves already because of our medical training. And so now we've lost our medical role because we're on maternity leave. And then we're kind of like, what else do I do with myself? And so it can be really tricky to sort of reconcile that shift in roles where you know medicine has temporarily taken a seat to the side while you focus on parenting.

Phillippa Houghton: You know, but just adjusting to that shift and identity, and like, who am I without medicine? And what do I even do with my time? If I'm not studying or on rotations, or what have you? It can feel really hard, and at times can be very isolating whether you are a resident in a rural center, with not a ton of other residents or a resident in an urban center where you're geographically displaced from your support people right? How many of us move for training or even just individual rotations? We're all far spread from our people of origin who are normally there to encircle us as we enter parenthood. From the learner perspective, too, like you're, you're entering maternity leave at a time where you're potentially, financially, very disadvantaged and probably very reliant on other people or the bank. And so to go into a season where you're not earning and it's potentially quite expensive, especially if you're needing extra support, like counseling or lactation services. Things are expensive and so having to kind of be okay, with that additional financial burden on top of the financial burden you probably already carry to get where you've gotten. It’s a lot to worry about!

Radha Sharma: A lot of stressful things happening. For rural settings, how does the locum coverage work? If you wanted to take maternity leave, for example?

Phillippa Houghton: My second baby, I was fortunately able to find 2 people who predominantly covered my mat leave for 8 months. And it was quite straightforward and easy. And then my third, you know, same story as what you've shared. I advertised for a locum basically, from the moment I knew my pregnancy was likely sticking, and I wasn't gonna have another miscarriage

and posted everywhere almost weekly - couldn't find a locum which was a contributing factor to us, deciding to to move, to be honest. Because it's you know it - It puts you in a position of

having to choose an amount of time off with your baby that you feel is appropriate for you and your baby or potentially going back to work, or maybe doing some work on the side of your mat leave which doesn't necessarily align with what everyone needs in the post-partum period. Some people, some people are happy to kind of carry that balance, and for me it just didn't feel like something that was a good fit, whilst at the same time having other family needs to move to another community. So sort of the the straw that broke the camel's back really was not being able to find a locum. And I am absolutely not alone in that experience, unfortunately. 

Radha Sharma: If you're listening to this, you're not alone. There's a lot of people that are in that position and do you have any advice for those individuals that may be in that position?

Phillippa Houghton: So I want to acknowledge that having to make that decision is not an easy one. If you are faced with having to make that decision, listen to your gut and honour what you feel you need in new parenthood, because there is so much going on as you transition to parenthood. So not that I’m advocating for everyone to just close their doors and walk away - that's absolutely not what I'm saying. It's a very hard decision and hard decisions can be even harder to make when you know there are so many people relying on you. So sometimes we just have to peel back those layers and really focus in on what your family needs, because your family needs you to be well and that's really what it comes down to. You know, we're all doctors. We all want to care for people. We all want to make sure everyone else feels well, and sometimes we do that at our own expense.

Phillippa Houghton: Your family needs you to be well but it can be hard to sift through all of that when you're carrying so many competing responsibilities and interests.

Radha Sharma: When you said you know, making sure that you're well as the parent, I can't help but plug your website again, can you talk to us a little bit about what inspired you to start that initiative?

Phillippa Houghton: Yeah, so I have been sort of pondering putting together some resources for perinatal mental health support after my first was born, and then didn't really get around to it because I had a baby and was starting a starting practice but it was always on the back burner. I'm a very creative person. I come from a writing background. And so a lot of how I process and share is through writing stories. And so I would share the odd written piece online about my experience and motherhood. And I would get a lot of messages back like, Thank you for saying this out loud. You know I resonate with this so much and it is so powerful. And then I was pregnant with my second and COVID hit in March, and he was born in July. and the few resources we had for perinatal support. And you know, new parenting programs just were gone overnight, right?

Phillippa Houghton: I remembered what it was like to be a first time Mom, and have all of those questions, and to feel isolated. And I just I could not let go of the image of all these other pregnant people who are going to enter parenthood without a village around them, you know, like, like I lived on going to “Mom and Baby Yoga” and “Stroller Fit” and like, you know the mom and baby groups. That's what made me feel like I was a full human on those days that are particularly hard, and I could just see the impact this was having on friends and colleagues. And you know, people around me who didn't have these supports anymore. So I kind of just slowly started putting a few things together on social media, doing the on post around mental health stuff. And it just started to grow really and then put the website together where I've got some blog posts on sort of common mental health and emotional issues in the postpartum period and then I had a bit of project funding which supported the podcast I did last year which is basically story sharing. And as we talked about before we started recording, there's so much power and stories. So that's a 10 part series with actual patients sharing their experiences with various mental health and emotional challenges, postpartum, and what they did to return to wellness.

Phillippa Houghton: And then I've got a few other resources on there for physicians so I have a prescribing guide for people who may be prescribing medications for anxiety or depression in pregnancy and breastfeeding. I've got a handout for patients called, So your doctors suggesting medication - things to consider if medication has been suggested. And so it sort of works through some of the common questions patients ask when they're being initiated on a medication in pregnancy or breastfeeding and that can kind of help navigate some of those conversations that take time and often the patients walk away from those conversations with us forgetting some of what we said to, because it’s quite overwhelming. So that's a nice hand out that you can print of for patients or send them the link to. And then most recently, I started running some group medical visits which I'm loving. So I do a “Preparing for postpartum" series, which is 6 weeks long that's targeted at pregnant people who are in their third trimester and we cover 6 sort of common themes of distress which I extrapolated from data collection last year. so I postpartum people kind of share what they found most stressful.

Phillippa Houghton: So we run that for 6 weeks. I do some education, some sort of mindfulness and CBT skills to help manage stress. Have a peer connection opportunity and a question and answer opportunity. So I've run 4 cohorts of that since I started it and love it. And then I just sort of pivoted that content into a fourth trimester program. So managing stress and overwhelm in the fourth trimester. And this is for people who have their babies in their arms. And we cover again common themes of distress and overwhelm how to manage, and we have a long sort of opportunity to discuss as a peer -  common issues in that fourth trimester period, and problem solve and offer support and stress management skills.

Radha Sharma: That is so cool! I love that active engagement piece - I wasn’t aware that was part of the work you were doing. We will link all of the resources - or I guess the website - in the show notes like I said earlier today, but that is so neat, Dr. Pip. I think that that's awesome, that you are paving the way and doing the work that was kind of missing, and you just took it upon yourself to do it, which is really cool.

Phillippa Houghton: It's great, and I will say it is not a solo journey. I have had so many engaged and supportive professionals, you know other physicians, lactation consultants. LDR nurses, project manager. Like so many people, have been involved in the work you see on my website. It is not at all just me. 

Radha Sharma: You said you had 3 children, are they all boys? Yeah. 

Phillippa Houghton: I have 3 boys. My oldest just turned 5. My middle is about to turn 3, and my youngest is 16 months. They’re busy. My youngest is the busiest. I understand that's normal for the youngest to be the busiest, I think, because they're just trying to keep up with everyone else. But literally, every time we turn around he's on top of a table, or falling into the toilet.

Radha Sharma: Well, you said you liked exercising. 

Phillippa Houghton: Yeah! So this is why you exercise to keep up with the little people. 

Radha Sharma: What are some of the unexpected challenges that you’ve faced being a parent?

Phillippa Houghton: I think the thing that I least expected was to feel very conflicted about being home versus being at work. I thought it would be really easy to be like, okay maternity leave’s done like back to work, I go - you know baby and child care and that'll be fine, and for me that's not fine, and it continues to not be fine. Every day that I go to work and leave my boys with our child care - who is wonderful like we have, we have a wonderful Nanny, and sometimes grandma helps - they're in great hands, fully trust the care that they're in. I walk out that door, and I immediately feel like I'm missing out. And you know I'm doing work that's important to me, and I find it fulfilling. And it matters. But at the end of the day there are many days where I still wish I was home. And as we talked about before, medical student debt is pretty hefty. So staying home is not an option and I think it is good for me to do some work. But I was very surprised by this sudden shift in my mind of, you know, had worked so hard to be a doctor, be a doctor, and overnight it was like I could just stop being a doctor and be a stay at home mom, and I think I'd be fine you know, for now, anyway. So that was very unexpected. And it's still something that is a source of conflict for me. 

Radha Sharma:  What's been the best part about being a parent?

Phillippa Houghton: The feeling of meaning that comes from being with your child and parenting your child to me is not - I can't replicate it in anything else I do and I know, like, and I want to say that full disclosure that not everyone feels that way, and that's okay if you don't feel that way. For me, there's a lot of meaning in being with my children. I don't enjoy every single minute I'm with my children, and no one does. It's hard but it's important. And at the end of the day, you know, going to bed and checking on them in their rooms, under their little blankets, and kind of reflecting on the day and seeing them grow, and how much they change so quickly. It's magical. It's like, it's amazing. Yeah.

Radha Sharma: If you had a magic wand, and could go back in time to change anything about your journey thus far. Would you change anything? If so, why, if not, why?

Phillippa Houghton: Would I have gotten here without the tricky moments that proceeded today? I don't know. It's like, I don't know that magic wand may have made something easier back then, but would have changed where I am today. The one thing I would say to my 5 years ago new mom's self would have been to let go of this notion of needing to be a perfect parent the second the baby's born, not that I intentionally had that thought, but now, on reflection I can see there were a lot of like behaviours and plans and thoughts that were rooted in a sense of perfectionism. For so many reasons, right? Like us as we go through our medical training it's often you know, implied, if not explicitly told to us that we need to be perfect or doing our best or doing our best for the patient. Which of you know, of course, we need to do our best for the patient, but someone's best is not perfect right? And I think that message gets missed sometimes. And then you enter parenthood. And it's not like those learned behaviors just disappear like you have to unlearn some of that.

Radha Sharma: Is there any advice that you have for medical trainees that might be listening to this podcast that you'd like to share today?

Phillippa Houghton: Number one medicine will always be there, and your fertility window will not. So if a family is very important to you, and not having a family would be devastating - don't wait.

Not everyone is in that camp. Some people are more ambivalent, and some people don't want to have children. Those positions are also equally fine. And then the other piece is if you choose to have a family in residency, use the parental leave, it's there you're not gonna have it if you have a baby as a staff - like use the parental leave. Don't feel like you have to come back earlier, so that you stay on cycle so that you pass exams at the same time as everyone else. You have that protected time and you won't get it back. If you want to stay connected, you can still go to your academic days. You can still go to events. But at a minimum plan to be off for the full amount of time. And then, if you decide, in 6 months like, hey? I really want to get back. And actually this feels right for me, and like a good decision for me, then you could always go back earlier.

Radha Sharma: Those are amazing pieces of advice. Thank you for sharing that. Dr. Pip.

Radha Sharma: The last question, as in the name of our podcast is, are you thriving or surviving in this moment?

Phillippa Houghton: In this moment, I mean. Had you asked me 4 h ago when we were at soccer camp? No, I would say, as a whole. I feel that we have been thriving myself and my husband for the most part in parenthood. with the caveat that I don't think anyone thrives all the time. We all have moments where we feel like we're just surviving, like, you know, reverse back a few months when we all have gastro in this house. It was survival mode. you know, and it's normal, I think, to have peaks of feeling like you're thriving and peaks of feeling like you're just getting through the days. But as an overall global feeling, I would say, thriving.

Radha Sharma: We just want to give you a thank you from the rest of the team. It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you. I learned so much today getting to know a little bit more about you and your journey. Like I said, you can find our guest’s contact information as well as their website in the show notes from today's show. This is Dr. Pip and Radha signing off.