Free fo­rum ad­dresses post­par­tum ill­ness

Record Observer - - Community - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

CHESTER — Men­tal health is­sues with preg­nant women, be­fore and after child birth, was the fo­cus of a movie and a dis­cus­sion at a fo­rum hosted by the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of the East­ern Shore at St. Christo­pher’s Catholic Church, Chester, on Thurs­day Jan. 19.

The free pro­gram was held in part­ner­ship with the Mary­land Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion’s Healthy New Moms pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign and the evening be­gan with a show­ing of the doc­u­men­tary “Dark Side of the Full Moon” fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion with moms and men­tal health of­fi­cials.

About 12 peo­ple at­tended the fo­rum.

Top­ics of dis­cus­sion in­cluded ef­fec­tive screen­ings for new moth­ers, the dis­con­nect within the med­i­cal com­mu­nity and the treat­ment of the 1.3 mil­lion moth­ers af­fected each year by post­par­tum de­pres­sion.

Both the movie and the dis­cus­sion re­vealed there are more men­tal health is­sues with moms than just post­par­tum de­pres­sion. There’s also post­par­tum anx­i­ety and post­par­tum psy­chosis. And the men­tal is­sue can hap­pen be­fore and after child birth. Some­times, the dis­or­der is called baby blues.

Tif­fany Thomas of Bal­ti­more, also with the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of Mar yland, at­tended the dis­cus­sion and of­fered her ex­pe­ri­ence. She still has post­par­tum anx­i­ety and she had her boy al­most two years ago.

“I still strug­gle with anx­i­ety. I al­ways have. It’s not as se­vere after I had my child. I still strug­gle with it,” Thomas said, adding that she sees a psy­chi­a­trist and ther­a­pist and takes med­i­ca­tion.

There are places for moms to get help, Thomas said, but many times moms can feel over whelmed with the moods they face. Any mom who needs help should start with their ob­ste­tri­cian or the child’s pe­di­a­tri­cian, she said.

Sev­eral women took part in the dis­cus­sion after the movie and made th­ese points:

• There are con­stant baby show­ers peo­ple hold for moms, mak­ing moms think who the shower is for.

• Six weeks off from work to take care of the baby isn’t long enough, con­sid­er­ing the breast feed­ing moms must do for their chil­dren.

• Moms some­times need surgery to have their chil­dren, and the phys­i­cal prob­lems last longer be­cause the women get no sleep while tak­ing care of the baby.

• One mom said her hus­band got eight weeks paid leave to take care of the baby when she was a new em­ployee and had dif­fi­culty putting to­gether enough preg­nancy leave.

• Men also can have post­par­tum de­pres­sion and more re­search into it is un­der­way.

• One key is preven­tion, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or of­fer it.

• The big­gest mis­con­cep­tion is some­one might think look­ing at the in­ter­net that there’s there’s plenty re­sources out there, but there might not be so many on the East­ern Shore.

• An­other dis­cus­sion mem­ber, Jackie Davis, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of the East­ern Shore, said there’s a Face­book site, called Healthy New Moms-East­ern Shore. “The goal is to get peo­ple talk­ing,” she said.

Les­lie Rucker of the Fam­ily Cen­ter of Queen Anne’s County said, “There’s re­sources out there and I can find them and link [women] to them.”

The movie, “Dark Side of the Full Moon,” fo­cused on the ma­ter­nal men­tal health in the U.S. and showed the dis­con­nect within the med­i­cal com­mu­nity to ef­fec­tively screen, re­fer and treat the 1.3 mil­lion moth­ers af­fected each year.

The film high­lighted in­con­sis­ten­cies of care, ques­tioned the sys­tem and doc­tors and also high­lighted peer-to-peer sup­port groups, rel­e­vant pol­icy, re­search and treat­ment.

Some moms in the movie dis­cussed the de­sire to kill them­selves or their baby, and the movie showed how news broad­casts of moms killing their ba­bies af­fect those moms watch­ing the news. One mom said she never had a de­sire to kill her­self or her baby, but rather sim­ply had de­pres­sion. Dads were in the movie, too, one was sym­pa­thetic to his wife while an­other di­vorced his wife.

The Healthy New Moms cam­paign in Mary­land has a brochure that de­tails places for moms to get help. The web­site is healthynew­moms.org.

For a mom in the need of im­me­di­ate help, they can contact the East­ern Shore Cri­sis Re­sponse and Re­source Helpline at 1-888-407-8018. Staff associated with the cri­sis team can come to the mom’s house if needed. It’s avail­able 9 a.m. to mid­night for moms in Queen Anne’s County.

If some­one has sui­ci­dal thoughts or thoughts of hurt­ing oth­ers, they are urged to call 911.

PHOTO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Th­ese women took part in a dis­cus­sion about post­par­tum men­tal health ill­nesses at a fo­rum at St. Christo­pher’s Catholic Church, Chester, on Thurs­day, Jan. 19. They are, from left, Les­lie Rucker of Ridgely, Carol St­root­man of Ch­ester­town, Beth Fallert of Greens­boro, Katharine Pet­zold of Eas­ton, Penny Gree­ley of Eas­ton, Jackie Davis, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of the East­ern Shore, Me­gan Pin­der of Cen­tre­ville, and Tif­fany Thomas of Bal­ti­more.

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