Helping Women Navigate Motherhood
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. In San Luis Obispo County, data from the Public Health Department shows that as many as one in six new mothers may suffer from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
The Birth and Baby Center team at Twin Cities Community Hospital recognizes the need to help support these families 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.
“As a nurse and lactation consultant, I see many new moms who are struggling,” says Mishell Whitacre, a registered nurse at Twin Cities. “Their baby might have reflux or they may be having trouble breastfeeding or their birth 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 from 9:30am to 11:00am in the Twin Cities Community Hospital third floor waiting room. Babies welcome; arms to hold available.
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.
Becoming a father for the first time can pose many challenges for men, too. Twin Cities has a group for new dads who may need a little extra peer support. Navigating Fatherhood meets the first Saturday of each month from 10am to 11am in the third floor waiting room. This relaxed environment gives new dads the opportunity to meet other new dads, ask questions and share experiences.
In 2015, Baby-Friendly USA designated Twin Cities Community Hospital as an internationally recognized Baby-Friendly birth facility. 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.
Other classes and support groups are available at Twin Cities Community Hospital, including: prepared childbirth, baby care and breastfeeding. For more information about these and other current offerings, please visit: https://www.twincitieshospital.com/our-services/birth-and-baby-center/classes-tour-and-support-groups.