TEMPLETON — All major life changes bring new challenges, and having a baby is no different. According to Postpartum Support International, one in seven women experience significant symptoms of depression or anxiety during or after the birth of their child, making it the number one complication in childbearing.
The Birth and Baby Center team at Twin Cities Community Hospital recognizes the need to support these women who may be experiencing emotional difficulties and offers a weekly support group for new mothers. Led by certified Postpartum Support International facilitators specifically trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, the Navigating Motherhood Support Group aims to help women adjust to life after baby and provides mother-to-mother support and encouragement.
Navigating Motherhood recently celebrated its two-year anniversary. The program has held more than 90 groups within those two years, and approximately 45 local mothers have attended.
“As a nurse and lactation consultant, I see many new moms who are struggling,” said Mishell Whitacre, a registered nurse at Twin Cities. “Their baby may be having trouble breastfeeding or their experience may not have been what they thought it would be. Sometimes, they just need someone to talk to and a safe space to share their story and hear from other moms who are feeling the same way.”
In addition to healthy conversation, the support group teaches positive coping skills, strategies for overcoming the challenges of motherhood and relaxation techniques. Each mom is given a Happy Box to decorate and personalize with family photos, inspirational quotes and other trinkets or mementos that help lift their spirits. Humor is also an important part of the group, as is personal sharing, art therapy, and deep breathing. Each meeting ends with meditation and massage techniques. The group meets every Thursday at 10 a.m. in the Twin Cities Community Hospital third floor waiting room. Babies welcome; arms to hold available. No registration required.
Symptoms of postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders differ from woman to woman, but may include: feelings of anger, and/or guilt, lack of interest in the baby, sleep and appetite disturbances, difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions, and possible thoughts of harming the baby or oneself. These symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy and throughout the first year after childbirth. Informed care and support can help prevent a worsening of symptoms and aid in recovery.
Twin Cities Community Hospital is designated as a Baby-Friendly birth facility by Baby-Friendly USA, an international recognition. This achievement means the hospital is using some of the most effective methods known to help moms succeed at breastfeeding. The hospital also has the lowest Cesarean-section rate of any hospital on the Central Coast and one of the lowest rates in the state.