Postpartum resource group gets federal funding for mental health services

Postpartum resource group gets federal funding for mental health services

In an article for Johns Hopkins Medicine, the assistant director of the institution’s Women’s Mood Disorders Center, Dr. Lauren Osborne, said roughly 85% of new mothers experience some form of “postpartum blues,” often called “baby blues,” during which they may “feel happy one minute and overwhelmed and crying the next.” “This funding finally takes seriously the needs of postpartum women, especially those that have faced trauma,” Rogness said. “Postpartum women need all the help they can receive to allow children and mothers a successful transition into the world.” But if symptoms are severe or long lasting, mothers may be experiencing a postpartum mood disorder, commonly but not exclusively postpartum depression. Women who had anxiety or depression before giving birth are at higher risk.

“This small town organization wins a federal grant and is recognized on a federal level,” she added. “It feels like people are starting to take notice of what’s a very basic issue, which is motherhood.” “We laid a lot of bricks, so it’s kind of fun to see the structure come out of the bricks we’ve laid over so many years,” said Maggie Rogness, a mother of three and the group’s treasurer, said. “We’re all very passionate. We’re all moms, and most of us are survivors.”

The team of volunteer doulas, whose training is paid by the organization, will work with mothers in crisis who have minimal support or family help. The doula services will be available 24/7 throughout Flathead County beginning this year, which Rogness said better positions the organization to “help take the edge off the harrowing time of new motherhood.” The organization, for which Sund remains president, has come a long way since 2014, even if its grassroots structure and focus are unchanged, and the funding allows it to further its mission of supporting mothers and addressing postpartum mood disorders by accelerating the launch of its doula program called The Network and hiring a full-time director for it.

In describing an example of both the potential severity of such disorders and her group’s ability to provide support, Rogness recalled a mother who needed care at Pathways Treatment Center but couldn’t afford childcare during her stay. “So we pooled money together for childcare,” she said. “That kind of thing happens a lot.” “I don’t think people understand how dangerous postpartum mood disorders can be,” Rogness said. “We write it off. But women really need more support.”

While postpartum depression and anxiety are relatively common, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar mood disorders and psychosis can also occur, the latter characterized by symptoms including confusion, cognitive impairment, disorganized behavior, and hallucinations or delusions. “People tend to think of depression as sadness, but that’s not always the case,” Osborne said. “Particularly in the postpartum period, there’s a lot of anxiety and irritability, plus lack of sleep, which is a huge risk factor for postpartum depression.” 

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