Category Archives: MOTHER’S ACT

Heartbreaking News out of Houston, TX

I debated about whether or not I should blog about this topic. It’s graphic, it’s disturbing, and it’s deeply saddened me. I finally made the decision to blog about it to clear up a certain point I’ve found in most of the news stories.

Unless you’ve been on a news blackout or under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the tragedy which occurred in TX this past weekend. I will not be delving into the details here. They are quite graphic and disturbing. I had a hard time reading the news story. I do not wish to trigger any suffering women who regularly read or subscribe to this blog. If you have a stronger stomach and do not feel you would be triggered by the details, you can read the story here.

The news story states the mother was mentally ill, having been previously diagnosed with schizophrenia.(Dad also had been diagnosed with schizophrenia)

Once again though, Postpartum Depression is mentioned in the story. Postpartum Depression is being bandied about as a possible cause of her behaviour.

I’d really like to make something perfectly clear.

Women with Postpartum DEPRESSION do NOT murder their children.

Let me say that again.

WOMEN WITH POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION DO NOT MURDER THEIR CHILDREN!!!!!!!

However, women with Postpartum PSYCHOSIS are much more likely to follow through with these horrific thoughts.

Postpartum Psychosis is a medical emergency. The onset is fast and furious and this particular Postpartum Disorder carries the highest risk of suicide, infanticide, and filicide of ALL the Disorders on the spectrum.Women with Postpartum Psychotic symptoms should absolutely not be left alone with their infants.

According to MedEd PPD, Symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis are:

  • Risk of harm to self (suicidality)
  • Risk of harm to others (homicidality)
  • Inability to provide basic care for self (usually due to psychosis). Psychosis is associated with both suicidality and homicidal ideation toward the infant or others.

Mothers with Psychosis may also show signs of delusional thinking, hear voices, or experience hallucinations.

And what should family members do if they suspect a new mother may be exhibiting signs of Psychosis?

Most importantly, the mother should NOT be left alone with her infant. She should be immediately transported to the ER for professional assessment and treatment. In the above article, it is stated that the mother’s family noticed her decline in mental status just a week prior to her crime. She was hospitalized but signed herself out.

Risk Factors for developing Psychosis include (but are not limited to) family or personal history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In this particular case, the mother had been previously diagnosed and hospitalized for Schizophrenia.

How often does Postpartum Psychosis occur? One per 1000 mothers may experience Psychosis.

If you want to truly understand Postpartum Psychosis, go read my interview with Teresa Twomey, author of Understanding Postpartum Psychosis. Both she and her daughter fortunately survived Postpartum Psychosis. With the publication of her book, she hoped to help remove stigma from this condition which is so very often sensationalized in mainstream media and made to seem more common than it really is.

How many more of these cases do we need to read about? How many more times do we have to confuse Postpartum Depression with Postpartum Psychosis in mainstream media? How many more times do we have to mourn the loss of another infant because a mother was left behind by an uneducated system which failed her? How many more times are we to read about a family destroyed by something which could have been prevented if swift action had been taken?

Why weren’t preventative measures already in place given the mom’s mental health history? Why was this tragedy allowed to occur? And why are moms in TX murdering their infants at such a high rate?

Why?

When will we wake up and realize that we need to reduce stigma, increase awareness, educate, research, and inform medical professionals in ALL fields about the dangers of Postpartum Psychosis? Educate them about the differences between Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Disorder – WHEN?!?!

THE MOTHER’S ACT needs to be passed NOW! Families cannot wait any longer for relief!

An Open Letter about the MOTHER’S Act to Kirstie Allie

S 324 IS

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 324

To provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 26, 2009

Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. DURBIN, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, and Mr. BROWN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

A BILL

To provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act’ or the ‘Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act’.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this Act–

(1) the term ‘postpartum condition’ means postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis; and

(2) the term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

TITLE I–RESEARCH ON POSTPARTUM CONDITIONS

SEC. 101. EXPANSION AND INTENSIFICATION OF ACTIVITIES.

(a) Continuation of Activities- The Secretary is encouraged to continue activities on postpartum conditions.

(b) Programs for Postpartum Conditions- In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary is encouraged to continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and treatments for, postpartum conditions. Activities under such subsection shall include conducting and supporting the following:

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may–

(A) include public service announcements through television, radio, and other means; and

(B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

(ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

(iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

SEC. 102. SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF RELATIVE MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN OF RESOLVING A PREGNANCY.

(a) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study (during the period of fiscal years 2009 through 2018) of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended and unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive or negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.

(b) Report- Subject to the completion of the study under subsection (a), beginning not later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and periodically thereafter for the duration of the study, such Director may prepare and submit to the Congress reports on the findings of the study.

TITLE II–DELIVERY OF SERVICES REGARDING POSTPARTUM CONDITIONS

SEC. 201. ESTABLISHMENT OF GRANT PROGRAM.

Subpart I of part D of title III of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 254b et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 330G the following:

‘SEC. 330G-1. SERVICES TO INDIVIDUALS WITH A POSTPARTUM CONDITION AND THEIR FAMILIES.

‘(a) In General- The Secretary may make grants to eligible entities for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with a postpartum condition and their families.

‘(b) Certain Activities- To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary shall ensure that projects funded under subsection (a) provide education and services with respect to the diagnosis and management of postpartum conditions. The Secretary may allow such projects to include the following:

‘(1) Delivering or enhancing outpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions, and delivering or enhancing support services for their families.

‘(2) Delivering or enhancing inpatient care management services that ensure the well-being of the mother and family and the future development of the infant.

‘(3) Improving the quality, availability, and organization of health care and support services (including transportation services, attendant care, homemaker services, day or respite care, and providing counseling on financial assistance and insurance) for individuals with a postpartum condition and support services for their families.

‘(4) Providing education to new mothers and, as appropriate, their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment. Such education may include–

‘(A) providing complete information on postpartum conditions, symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources; and

‘(B) in the case of a grantee that is a State, hospital, or birthing facility–

‘(i) providing education to new mothers and fathers, and other family members as appropriate, concerning postpartum conditions before new mothers leave the health facility; and

‘(ii) ensuring that training programs regarding such education are carried out at the health facility.

‘(c) Integration With Other Programs- To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary may integrate the grant program under this section with other grant programs carried out by the Secretary, including the program under section 330.

‘(d) Certain Requirements- A grant may be made under this section only if the applicant involved makes the following agreements:

‘(1) Not more than 5 percent of the grant will be used for administration, accounting, reporting, and program oversight functions.

‘(2) The grant will be used to supplement and not supplant funds from other sources related to the treatment of postpartum conditions.

‘(3) The applicant will abide by any limitations deemed appropriate by the Secretary on any charges to individuals receiving services pursuant to the grant. As deemed appropriate by the Secretary, such limitations on charges may vary based on the financial circumstances of the individual receiving services.

‘(4) The grant will not be expended to make payment for services authorized under subsection (a) to the extent that payment has been made, or can reasonably be expected to be made, with respect to such services–

‘(A) under any State compensation program, under an insurance policy, or under any Federal or State health benefits program; or

‘(B) by an entity that provides health services on a prepaid basis.

‘(5) The applicant will, at each site at which the applicant provides services funded under subsection (a), post a conspicuous notice informing individuals who receive the services of any Federal policies that apply to the applicant with respect to the imposition of charges on such individuals.

‘(6) For each grant period, the applicant will submit to the Secretary a report that describes how grant funds were used during such period.

‘(e) Technical Assistance- The Secretary may provide technical assistance to entities seeking a grant under this section in order to assist such entities in complying with the requirements of this section.

‘(f) Definitions- In this section:

‘(1) The term ‘eligible entity’–

‘(A) means a public or nonprofit private entity; and

‘(B) includes a State or local government, public-private partnership, recipient of a grant under section 330H (relating to the Healthy Start Initiative), public or nonprofit private hospital, community-based organization, hospice, ambulatory care facility, community health center, migrant health center, public housing primary care center, or homeless health center.

‘(2) The term ‘postpartum condition’ means postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.’.

TITLE III–GENERAL PROVISIONS

SEC. 301. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

To carry out this Act and the amendment made by section 201, there are authorized to be appropriated, in addition to such other sums as may be available for such purpose–

(1) $3,000,000 for fiscal year 2009; and

(2) such sums as may be necessary for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

SEC. 302. REPORT BY THE SECRETARY.

(a) Study- The Secretary shall conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum conditions.

(b) Report- Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall complete the study required by subsection (a) and submit a report to the Congress on the results of such study.

SEC. 303. LIMITATION.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the amendment made by section 201, the Secretary may not utilize amounts made available under this Act or such amendment to carry out activities or programs that are duplicative of activities or programs that are already being carried out through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sharing the Journey with Helen Ferguson Crawford

I met Helen at Facebook. (Yes, I spend entirely TOO much time there) She’s a wonderfully brave soul who is opening up about her recent experience with Postpartum Depression and Thyroiditis. Did I mention her daughter also had kidney reflux? Helen is one tough chick and I can’t wait to share her journey with you. In fact, let’s get started now!

HFC

Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Helen Crawford when she’s just HELEN?

Hey Lauren! I am a happy, confident, empathic soul.

Every day I am a being that is – a mother, wife, architect, artist, advocate, gardener, speaker, and big city lover. Our children, Joe (age 5 1/2) and Nora (age 19 months) are hilarious, engaging little people.

Did your pregnancy and birth go as you expected or were there some unexpected experiences thrown in for good measure?

Both pregnancies were good! You know normal stuff – morning sickness, back aches. I was busy doing things that I love to do both times.

My due date for both my children was the same day, October 16th. Ironically, it is also the day my husband asked me to marry him. Now, were they born on that day? Of course not!

With just about every pregnancy and post-natal period there are unexpected experiences large and small. With my son Joe, it was a c-section, and a lousy bout of mastitis afterward. I did not have PPD following his birth. However, after the birth of my second child, Nora in Oct 2007, everything was great until the fourth month post-partum. I started feeling tired, overwhelmed, and my hair was falling out. I was always cold, and my skin was rashy. I was anxious and sluggish. Thus began a very confusing, insidious spiral downward, a complete descent into more than one post-partum related illness.

You too have tread down the bumpy cobblestone avenue of Postpartum Depression. Just how bumpy was that road for you? How did your journey start out?

Severe bumps. I have seen clinical depression up close many times, as a witness. Depression runs in these genes, and having it myself was one of my biggest fears.

In March 2008, my OBGYN tested my thyroid. The numbers were off and I was sent to an endocrinologist. I was diagnosed with (temporary) Post-Partum Thyroiditis. Post-Partum Thyroiditis mimics symptoms of depression and anxiety. Since I had wacky blood work – that must have been it right? The source of the anxiety attacks and lost feeling? That proved to be wrong. It took 6 months for my thyroid to return to normal, and when it did the panic attacks increased. In late August 2008 when my daughter was 10 1/2 months old, I stopped sleeping and eating entirely. And then I knew, PPD was here. Full, clinical post-partum depression/anxiety had been here the whole time, hiding behind abnormal blood work, an thyroid in overdrive, increasing anxiety about my daughter’s kidney reflux, and my role as a mother and practicing architect.

What were some of the things you did to get through your darkest days? How were you received when you sought help?

I pulled myself together as best as anyone in the scariest place they have ever been could. Used every inch of energy I had to find a psychiatrist that would see me immediately. I found a great one and also called my therapist, whom I had not seen since Nora’s kidney diagnosis in June. She met me after hours immediately. I saw the psychiatrist 36 hours later and started medication. Medication was and still is necessary for me. On that day I went the the psychiatrist, I called my office and was honest. My office was accepting. And then crawled back into bed to begin recovery, whatever it would become, and is becoming.

Oh – Practiced breathing. Meditation. I accepted what was now – this depression and that I was doing everything in my being to crawl out of it. Once the medication started working and my appetite nourished my strength, I started painting and writing again. I wrote about what it felt like to have this monster. I drew strength from these words and images. Here is a diary entry that I read and reread often:

Dear Post Partum Depression,

After the birth of my daughter, you silently slipped in, and settled down. I recovered from birth, hugged my family, and watched autumn change to winter, while you slowly grew. You hid behind other temporary, post partum illnesses, undetected. You fed on stress. You fed on fear, until I found myself in a black hole so deep, dark and terrifying. The sides were wet, damp and crumbly dirt; the width of my arms. Up far above, the sky was barely visible. Sometimes I could feel the sun for seconds. There in that place, I accepted that you were here. With intense fear, I stood up and gathered my army – friends, family, therapist and psychiatrist. But even at night, when I lay on the cool floor of my porch, listening for anything – birds, trains, wind – waiting for the anxiety attacks to stop, waiting weeks for the medication to work, waiting for sunlight, sleep and appetite to return, I knew you were not me. Depression, you are something that happened along the way – a situation. I accept this. You do not define me. I laugh, sleep, play with my children, talk with my husband, draw, paint, smile, pray, cry, spend days with friends and live. I climb, inch by inch, fingers dug in the sides, pulling myself up. Each inch I climb is a triumph. I am on this path that is life. My light shines from within.”

Support from a spouse/partner or family and friends is invaluable during recovery from a Postpartum Mood Disorder. What was your experience with family and spousal support as you recovered?

Everyone needs an army. My parents came for 3 months to take care of us. My in-laws supported us in many ways. My husband went to therapy with me and took care of the children every night for 4 months, as I was getting stronger. I am truly blessed. It’s been 8 months since I sought treatment, and I am heading towards remission. I’ll still be on medication for a while and that’s OK.

Name three things that made you laugh today.

I overheard the 19 month old say to her big brother, “stop whining Joe Joe.”

A Jon Stewart clip.

My son break/karate dancing like a pro.

What do you find the most challenging about parenting? The least?

The dynamics are always changing – this is the hardest. The least challenging of course is loving the pure joy these two bring us. Beats all the hard work!

Self-care is so important. Often we forget to Mother the most important person in our lives – OURSELVES. Share with us what you do when taking time for yourself.

Every mother knows that this is one of the hardest things to do, find time. I realized with the help of my husband and therapist that I always sabotaged my own free time. I didn’t let free time for me happen, because I did not know how. Now I paint and practice yoga – by myself. I see my friends more.

At Facebook, you host a group encouraging the support of the MOTHER’S Act. Tell us about your support of this legislation.

I am still amazed that there is not much understanding of this illness including in the medical profession. Research and public awareness are necessary! This is REAL. It’s not momentary sadness, weakness or weepy, female emotions. The women whom get through this are the bravest, strongest women in the world. Listen to their voices.

The Facebook group is starting to take off. Its called “Sign This- Post Partum Depression Mothers Act.” All the names are sent to the national petition list that Susan Dowd Stone is compiling. Names are sent per state, so remember to let us know where you live!

On the group page there is an opportunity to contact your individual senators.

And last but not least, let’s say you have an opportunity to share some advice with an expectant (new or experienced) mom about Postpartum Mood Disorders. What would you tell her?

There is no shame in having this illness or possibly having this illness. Sometimes it just happens along the way. It is awful, but treatable, and temporary with help. I would hug her and remind her she did nothing wrong, EVER. She just had a beautiful baby and the body is having bumpy time trying to recover. Speak up, seek help and find peace within, even if it means medication and an army of support. My daughter is the happiest girl I have ever met. As I recover, I laugh out loud about how I gave her all my happiness to go forth in the world. So now I’m in the process of re-growing mine!

Sen. Menendez holds Press Conference at Valley Hospital

This past Monday, Senator Menendez held a press conference at Valley Hospital to speak about the MOTHER’S Act. Susan Stone, Sylvia Lasalandra, and Mary Jo Codey were all in attendance.

Emphasized was the fact that the MOTHER’S Act does NOT mandate screening. According to the Susan Stone’s blog post announcing the press conference, Dr. Fred Rezvani, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood NJ, emphasized the need to include all forms of treatment for new mothers suffering from these disorders including nutrition, massage and acupuncture and other complementary therapies, to home services, social support and psychological counseling.

Senator Menendez was presented with a petition of national organizations and individual constituents representing millions of Americans who understand the need for this legislation can no longer be ignored. With the bipartisan support that currently exists for the legislation, its likelihood of passage among the priority of healthcare reform seems likely, but the advocacy efforts must continue! The entire audience expressed their thanks to Senator Menendez for his determined advocacy on behalf of America’s mothers.

~Susan Stone~

You can read more about the press conference by clicking here.

Senator Coburn: A walking oxymoron

Tom Coburn makes my head hurt!!!!!!!

Seriously. I was doing my homework on Senator Coburn last night and landed a headache miles longer than Route 66.

Senator Tom Coburn, R, OK, has been by far one of the staunchest opposers of the MOTHER’S Act.

BUT –

He’s an OB

He’s delivered 4,000 babies.

Statistics would lead you to believe he’s seen at LEAST a few cases of PPD, right?

According to Dr. Coburn, breastfeeding is automatic protection against postpartum mood disorders. (Ok Sen Coburn – so where was my protection when I was exclusively nursing my first daughter or exclusively pumping for my second? seriously – where was it? Was it hiding under some mysterious rock? Behind my back? Did I leave it at the hospital? Perhaps my first OB stole it from me – but wherever it was, I sure as heck didn’t have it!)

His primary argument for being against The Melanie Blocker Stokes Act? He doesn’t support disease specific legislation. Yeah, um, ok.

Let’s delve into some legislation Senator Coburn has authored, shall we? (By the way, everything below was pulled directly off his Senate website)

Guaranteeing Patient’s Rights (author)

A law to guarantee patients’ rights for those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, including timely access to primary and specialty health care providers, a timely grievance process with appeals, an explanation of the enrollee’s rights and plan information, and prohibitions on restrictions on communications between patients and doctors and financial incentives to encourage health care providers to deny medically necessary care. Provision contained within Public Law 105-33, signed 8/5/1997.

YET Dr. Coburn does NOT accept Medicaid/Medicare patients at HIS OWN PRACTICE! (OK Medical Board website)

Streamlining the Approval of Disease Diagnostics (author)

A law to improve the review and approval process of radiopharmaceuticals (articles used in the diagnosis or monitoring of a disease). Provision contained within Public Law 105-115, signed 11/21/1997.

(Is it just me or is the word DISEASE not only in the title but the description too?)

Protecting Babies from AIDS (author)

A law to require all pregnant women to be counseled about and offered testing for HIV to prevent the transmission of the virus to unborn and newborn babies.  Provision contained with Public Law 104-146, signed 5/20/1996.

(Hmmm. AIDS is a disease. Pretty specific one too. AND this one requires counseling and an offer of a test)

Treating and Preventing HIV/AIDS (author)

A law to provide access to AIDS treatment for underinsured Americans living with HIV, including counseling for those with HIV emphasizing it is the continuing duty of those infected not to infect others with the disease.  Public Law 106-345, signed on 10/20/2000.

(Wow. Treating AND Preventing HIV, huh? Feeling a little warm over here…)

Providing Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs (author)

A law to allow Americans to import prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Provision contained with Public Law 106-387, signed 10/28/2000.

(So he’s ok with importing drugs that yes, may be approved by the FDA but only God knows from where some of them are sourced. Yet he wants to deny new moms access to care and aid for Postpartum Depression?????)

Preventing Cervical Cancer(author)

A law to educate the public about human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer, including how to prevent HPV infection. The law also requires condoms to be relabeled with a warning that condom use does not protect against HPV infection. Provision contained within Public Law 106-554, signed 12/21/2000.

(Wow. A law to educate the public about a DISEASE. Again – common ground?)

Source: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=AboutSenatorCoburn.Accomplishments on April 21, 2009 @ 1132pm.

Seriously though.

Postpartum Mood Disorders should not be a ping pong ball across the aisles of the Senate. Just as it is not black and white out here in the real world as to who will get it, it’s not JUST a Democratic Issue. It’s not JUST a Republican Issue. It’s an every party issue. It’s a 20% of ALL new moms issue. It’s a 50% higher risk of repeat for survivors the second time around. It’s a 95% risk of repeat for survivors the third time around! It’s a 2.3x higher risk for Moms who have husbands/partners deployed issue. It’s a 3x higher risk for first time Moms over the age of 35 developing Postpartum Psychosis issue. It’s a HUGE issue, ok?

I want to know at what point in the feminist movement Moms got screwed over. When did we become ok with chilling on the back burner? Where is Susan B Anthony when we need her? Anyone out there in need of a kick in your activism spirit? Watch Iron Jawed Angels. It’s about suffrage. And man did those chicks go through it. I HOPE it doesn’t come to that but I am passionately determined to get this bill passed. Thing is, I can’t do it by myself.

Senator Menendez can’t do it by himself. Neither can Congressman Bobby Rush. Or Carole Blocker. Or Susan Stone. We need YOUR help, YOUR voices. Your stories of survival, strength, and experiences with a system that is failing new families each and every day. We HAVE to raise awareness.

Don’t wait any longer to pick up that phone and call the H.E.L.P. Committee. Go to your email and send a message RIGHT now to Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com). Include your name, state, and any professional credentials or organizational affilitations. Let others know you support the MOTHER’S Act.

SPEAK UP!

National Association of Certified Professional Midwives Endorses MOTHER’S Act

With astonishing grit and determination, midwifery is making a comeback here in the United States. Back in the day (and boy do I mean BACK in the day), midwifery was common practice. Many women relied on other women to help them through pregnancy and childbirth. You see, childbirth has not always been as medically complicated as it is now. In fact, involving a doctor in childbirth started out as a status symbol towards the end of the eighteenth century. Even though women in the home had been acting physicians for years, a belief sprung up that these same women were “emotionally and intellectually unable to learn the new obstetric methods.” Medical schools were also not available for women to attend. Thus began the introduction of the Obstetrician and the downfall of the biblical midwife. (see Genesis 35:17. Yes, GENESIS!)

One of the primary risk factors for a Postpartum Mood Disorder is lack of social support. When midwifery was widely practiced here in the United States, childbirth was a very social event. Women would fill the homes of the expectant mother with food, offers of respite, shared knowledge, and community.

Nowadays many of us are lucky if we even get one meal prepared for us let alone any offers of respite immediately after birth. Yet what are we told to do? REST! But how are we to do this when society fails to allow us to do so? And what happened to our 40 days? Why is it that every other culture seems to treat their mothers better than ours? When did we allow ourselves to take a backseat? Where’s the self-care in the birthing period? And more importantly – why have we as women allowed this to be stolen from us? Why are we silently suffering?

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act stipulates the funding of a rather large awareness campaign for both medical professionals and consumers. Through this campaign, mothers would be able to shed the stigma which keeps them from seeking help. It would enable new mothers to be more comfortable with coming forward into the light rather than staying in the dark as a risk not only to themselves but to their families as well. Mothers and families would be educated about the signs, symptoms that may indicate postpartum depression. They would also be educated about prevention tips and self-care methods that would either completely prevent or significantly shorten any negative Postpartum Experience.

It is important to note that The National Association of Certified Professional Midwives (NACPM) has endorsed the MOTHER’S Act. With this endorsement comes recognition that yes, something is wrong with the birthing system in America. We need to start somewhere. Why not with Midwives? Why not with Mothers who want to give birth the way it was meant to be experienced? While still possible, risks of developing a Postpartum Mood Disorder are significantly lower when a doula or a midwife is present at birth. (If you really want an eye opener into the mess of the Birthing Industry, I highly recommend The Business of Being Born)

So on this day, April 22, 2009, Earth Day, I urge you to call the H.E.L.P. Committee and let them know the MOST important thing to preserve today is the Mother/Child dyad. We can do this by passing the MOTHER’S Act. First we need to get it OUT of the HELP Committee and onto the Senate Floor.

Email Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com) over at Perinatal Pro to have your name placed on the list in support of the MOTHER’S Act. (Be sure to include your name, state, any credentials and/or organizational affiliations!)

A Postpartum Mood Disorder doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Heck, the mom seeking help from her doctor doesn’t even care what his or her political views are. All she cares about is that he/she is aware of what’s going on and is willing to work with her to find a solution that fits her lifestyle.

Today let your Earth Day Action be a political one.

Call the H.E.L.P. Committee.

Support The MOTHER’S Act!

Save a Mom.

Sharing the Journey with Mary Jo Codey

As those of you who are familiar with Postpartum Advocacy know, Mary Jo has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and education of those around her. In fact, along with her husband, former NJ Governor Ritchie Codey, Mary Jo aided in passing New Jersey’s state-wide legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder Screening education and screening. She also strongly advocates for the passage of The MOTHER’S Act, a bill that will increase funding for research, education, and awareness of Postpartum Mood Disorders here in the United States. Mary Jo has graciously agreed to Share her Journey today with the hopes of increasing signatures to the Perinatal Pro list as well as calls to the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee.

I sincerely hope her words will help spur you into action. Let me put it this way. If you know ten mothers, at least eight of them have experienced the Baby Blues. Two of them have experienced full-blown Postpartum Depression. And these are only the ones we know about. How many other mothers have suffered in silence? Help them break the silence. Let them know you are on their side. As New Jersey’s campaign says – “Speak Up when you’re Down!”


88_mary_joTell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Mary Jo Codey when she’s not passionately speaking out about Postpartum Mood Disorders?

I’m a teacher at the Gregory Elementary School in West Orange NJ. I love spending time with the children, watching them grow and flourish, and to instill a good self concept about themselves so they can take with them and utilize throughout their lives. When I’m not teaching I love to spend time with my husband Ritchie and my two boy’s, Kevin and Christopher. I also enjoy gardening, playing golf and eating chocolate with my dear friend Sylvia!

In 1984, after the birth of your first son, you began to experience some very frightening thoughts and moods. Would you share with us what you went through?

After the birth of my first child, Kevin, I had terrifying thoughts about hurting him. I had intrusive thoughts about smothering and drowning him. Those scary thoughts raced in my mind over and over throughout the day and night. It caused me such a great deal of pain and shame.

After the birth of your second son, with the aid of medication, you were able to have a “normal” experience. Describe the differences. At any point during this second postpartum period, did you find yourself upset about having missed out on your first son’s infancy?

With the birth of my first son Kevin, I had no idea what postpartum depression was. I never even heard those words before. I couldn’t even get out of my bed to visit the nursery to see or feed him.

With the birth of my second son Christopher, I was immediately put on medication which were extremely effective. I was elated that I could care for him and take care of him. I did however feel cheated by postpartum depression with my first child. At times I mourned and felt guilt for missing the first years with Kevin. I remember reporters coming to my home to do a story on me and I was asked if I had any pictures of Kevin. I was ashamed that I could not provide them with one picture of him.

When you first talked with your sons about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what did you tell them? How have they handled knowing about your experience?

I started to talk to my boys about my experience with postpartum depression at a very young age. I made sure that they understood that, it wasn’t their fault and that I loved them more than they could ever imagine. I explained to them that I was sick at the time. I also told them that they were the two greatest gifts that God had given me. They’ve handled it remarkably well.
New Jersey is the first state to enact legislation for Postpartum Mood Disorder screening and education. How did this law come about and what was your involvement in it’s development?

The minute Ritchie became Acting Governor for New Jersey the first item on our agenda was postpartum depression. Which led to “Speak Up When You’re Down.” It encourages women and their families to talk openly with each other and with their health-care provider if they are feeling depressed after the birth of their child. It also provides a 24/7 PPD Help line and postpartum depression information and resources; 1-888-404-7763.

Name three things that made you laugh today.

Watching my friend Phyllis come out of her home with 5 dog’s on leashes and luggage as we were leaving for the airport!

Trying to get on a large tube for “The Rapid River Ride.” After numerous failed attempts trying to get myself positioned on the tube, a stranger approached me and shoved me on the tube finally! He said that he couldn’t stand watching me struggle anymore…well it finally worked!

Calling my friend Sylvia and listening her imitate her Sicilian mother on the phone. Every time she imitates her mom it literally slays me!! It leaves me in stitches!

Senator Robert Menendez, NJ, introduced The MOTHER’S Act earlier this year to Congress. Share with us what this bill would do for women and families.

This bill is so very crucial for all women and families suffering with postpartum depression. It will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.

Stigma plays a large role in women not reporting symptoms of Postpartum Mood Disorders. What can we do to overcome this stigma and replace it with acceptance and compassion?

Having women share their experience with postpartum depression, rather than keeping it to themselves is very important. To not be ashamed or afraid to speak up to their family members, health providers and women’s groups when they are grappling with postpartum depression. This will help replace the stigma of postpartum depression with acceptance and compassion.

How did your husband handle the changes your struggle with Postpartum Mood Disorder brought into the home? What can new dads do to support their wives as they fight to move back to “normal”?

At first my husband Ritchie blamed himself for what I was going through. He thought it was because he didn’t pay much attention to me because he was too involved with sports. He couldn’t understand what and why I was going through this. He was angry that I asked him to find another wife when I went to the hospital because I believed that I wasn’t going to get better. He never gave up on me! He stayed with me and understood that postpartum was an illness that we were going to overcome as a family. He never stopped praying. New dads need to be supportive and understanding towards their wife who is suffering with postpartum depression. Most importantly, they need to be patient and compassionate.

Last but not least, if you had the opportunity to give an expectant mother (new or experienced) just one piece of advice about Postpartum Mood Disorders, what would you tell her?

Women suffering with postpartum depression need to know that they are GREAT MOTHER’S! Do not worry about not being able to bond with your baby, it will happen. First you need to get well. Most importantly please, please, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

MOTHER’S Act Blog Week Participation List

Welcome to Blog Week for the MOTHER’S Act

Above you’ll see a tab for the MOTHER’S Act Blog Week. Clicking on it will take you to more information (including a snazzy graphic) for this week’s action.

We want you to email Susan Stone @ Perinatal Pro to be added to the growing list of supporters for The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act. This important legislation will aid with funding for increased legislation, education, awareness, and treatment services for mothers who struggle with insidious Perinatal Mood Disorders silently every day.

We also want you to call the Senate HELP Committee. Raise your voice and let them know you care and new Mothers DESERVE this legislation. They NEED it. The MOTHER’S Act will save lives!

Our movement here is applauded today by Sen. Robert Menendez, the primary sponsor of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act.

“Postpartum depression is a condition that is not only more widespread than most realize but also more debilitating than most realize,” said Menendez. “We need to make sure these mothers are fully supported and informed, rather than scared and alone. Working together with a nationwide community of mothers, we are so close to enacting this important legislation into law. What we need is an intense dose of public pressure. This Blog Day helps reinforce the type of grassroots movement that will create the pressure that is needed, and I commend the participants. I invite mothers, fathers and anyone else who believes we need to better support those with postpartum depression to contact their Senators and urge them to vocally support S.324”

Please leave a comment on this post with your blog post URL in which you encourage others to:

Email Susan Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com)

Provide a Link to Read the Bill

Include a link to Mary Jo Codey’s Interview

State whether or not you’ve called the H.E.L.P. Committee.

You can find links and more participation guidelines by clicking here.

Thank you for your participation. Don’t forget to pass it on!

Blog Week for Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act starts at midnight!

candle-wicks1Are you excited?

I am!

Starting tonight at midnight, you’ll be able to get the low-down on all the details of this week’s blog campaign to show support for the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act.

(By the way, there’s an interview with Mary Jo Codey on the way too!)

There will be blogging, twittering, facebooking, myspacing, DIGGing, and whatever other form of social media you’re into.

There will be calling.

There will be sharing, paying it forward, and strength in numbers as those of us dedicated to supporting new moms in the perinatal period raise our voices in support of this important legislation.

Even if you don’t do blogging or social media, call the H.E.L.P. Committee members to let them know you support this legislation. There will be a call script provided at midnight as well. And if you’re in the mood, there will also be a suggested letter to the editor for you to send into your local papers.

Let’s make this one for the record books, folks!