Postpartum depression affects many mothers who feel they are alone or overwhelmed, and the Hennepin County Medical Center is opening a new program to help those who are struggling.
HCMC recently unveiled the Mother-Baby Program, one of 64 like it across the country that aims to help the estimated 12 percent of women who feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression during and after pregnancy.
Emily Beugen always dreamed of having children, but when she had her daughter five years ago, it was much different than what she had in mind.
"I was just feeling a lot of pressure as a mother to do everything perfectly," she admitted.
Beugen told FOX 9 News that nine weeks after Sarah was born, everything fell apart.
"Things started to feel different and worse, and I started to get a feeling that I didn't want to be around her," Beugen admitted.
She checked herself into a psychiatric ward to receive treatment, but Beugen is one of many mothers who experience those feelings after birth and that's why HCMC created a program to address postpartum depression specifically.
"We are very excited. This has been years in the making," said Dr. Helen Kim. "We're really excited to open our doors and help some families."
Mothers in the program are admitted to an outpatient program where they spend five hours a day for three weeks getting treatment with their children. There's even a nursery that will soon be full of cribs so that mothers can bring their babies along while participating in group sessions that allow mothers to speak with other women who are experiencing the same struggles.
"I was surrounded by people who had no idea what to do, and so to have a place like this to go where they can just bring you inside and give you a hug and tell you everything is going to be OK [is great]," Beugen said.
There is also an observation room that allows a therapist the ability to watch how a mother and baby interact through mirrors.
"It's important for us to see but it's also important for us to show a mother or caregiver cues she may be misinterpreting from her baby or child," Kim explained.
The goal of the program is prevention, and Kim said the therapists hope to address symptoms early on before the depression turns severe.
"Really, the symptoms began very early and the writing was on the wall well before a crisis evolved," Kim said of post-partum depression. "Had we intervened much earlier, we would have prevented a lot of suffering."
The center hopes to target those with moderate to severe symptoms out of the gate, and Beugen urges mothers who are struggling to take part.
"Give them hope that it's going to be OK and the clouds will pass," she said. "Just give them support."
There are three ways to contact the Mother-Baby Program:
- The Mother-Baby HopeLine is a free triage and resource telephone line for families experiencing stress or challenges related to mental health symptoms during and after pregnancy and wile parenting young children. Providers may also call the line with diagnosis questions. Callers can leave a voice mail at 612-873-4673 and leave a voice mail. Calls will be returned within two business days.
- To schedule an intake as a new patient, women with post-partum depression can call the Hennepin Women's Mental Health Program at 612-373-1851.
- For those needing short-term, intensive outpatient mental health treatment for depression, anxiety and other emotional distress that impacts the ability of function at home or at work, care for yourself or your baby, callers may turn to the Mother-Baby Day Hospital by calling 612-873-6262.
Mothers with babies less than one year old are encouraged to bring their child with them and either keep them in their arms or allow them to sleep in the nursery. The Day Hospital is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and services are billed to a patient's insurance. Those who do not have insurance can discuss alternative options with HCMC.