Sunday, 01 August 2021

Maternal mental health recognized in the month of May

050217maternalhealthproclamation

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Motherhood changes everything.

On Tuesday, May 2, the Lake County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation declaring the month of May as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month.

Between 600 and 700 women give birth in Lake County each year.

While many women experience some mild mood changes during pregnancy or within the first 12 months after the birth of a child, 15 to 20 percent of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Women of every culture, age, income level, and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Studies also indicate that 40 to 60 percent of women living in poverty experience postpartum depression, and moms who struggle with domestic violence, have a history of previous trauma, are recovering from substance abuse, or become a mother during the teenage years, experience higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Mother-Wise, funded by Prop 63, the Mental Health Services Act, is a community program serving Lake County that seeks to support expecting women, new moms, and mothers who feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed.

The community group utilizes volunteer services to visit mothers at home, hosts weekly moms’ groups in both Lakeport and Clearlake, and organizes events like group walks.

“Social interaction made my day one hundred times better than if I didn’t have anything to look forward to,” said one mother who regularly attends Mother-Wise groups. “I look forward to meeting up with other moms. If Mother-Wise wasn’t here I would have been isolated all the time, and my depression probably would have been a lot worse.”

Sutter Lakeside Hospital partners with Mother-Wise to provide education and resources to the families who deliver at Lakeside’s Family Birth Center.

“It’s important to discuss maternal mental health for a number of reasons,” said Jackie Rad, RN, Family Birth Center manager. “Families dealing with postpartum mental health need to know they’re not alone; it’s also paramount that moms know that they can get help, and that postpartum depression is easily treated.

“Postpartum depression by no means makes a woman a bad mother,” said Rad. “The change of hormones that come with having a baby can affect mood, emotional stability, and capacity to function. Knowing what to look for is the most important step in knowing how to manage postpartum depression and anxiety.”

Postpartum depression and anxiety can manifest in a number of symptoms, including feeling helpless, hopeless, guilt, numbness, worry, or a sense of dread.

Mothers experiencing postpartum depression may feel like their baby deserves a better mom, or may not feel a strong bond with their baby. Symptoms last for at least two weeks, and interfere with daily living.

Lifestyle remedies for postpartum depression include exposure to peers in similar circumstances, socializing with others to avoid feeling isolated, and setting attainable expectations for oneself, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other treatments include therapy, antidepressants or other medication.

Very rarely, postpartum psychosis can appear in new mothers up to four weeks after giving birth. Symptoms include wishing to harm oneself or one’s baby, paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations. Postpartum psychosis is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, help is available. Mother-Wise staff is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 707-349-1210.

Health care providers are available at the Sutter Lakeside Community Clinic at 707-263-6885, or at the Family Medicine Clinic at 707-262-5088.

To find out more about Mother-Wise, or other resources available to mothers, please contact Jaclyn Ley at 707-349-1210.

To learn more about Sutter Lakeside Hospital’s Family Birth Center or primary care clinics, please call Jackie Rad at 707-262-5158, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Morgen Wells is community relations and fund development coordinator at Sutter Lakeside Hospital.

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