Tag Archives: The MOTHERS Act

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The MOTHER’S Act

LegislationOn February 23, 2001, Melanie Stokes gave birth to a baby girl. Just three months later, she committed suicide. Melanie’s death gave birth to a very dedicated activist – her mother, Carol Blocker. Frustrated with the failure of physicians to appropriately care for her daughter, Carol worked endlessly to keep Melanie’s tragic death from becoming meaningless. Through Carol’s tireless advocacy and work with Representative Bobby Rush (IL), the Melanie Blocker Stokes Act has now become The MOTHER’S Act.

The MOTHER’S Act as it reads in the current version would provide funds for a public awareness campaign, education campaign for caregivers, increase availability of treatment options and entities as well as require the current Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

More and more research is slowly uncovering potential underlying causes and risks related to Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. More and more women and caregivers are becoming educated as more of those who have survived a PMAD speak up to share our story.

If passed, The MOTHER’S Act would further reduce the stigma surrounding new mothers not ensconced in the Johnson & Johnson glow of infantdom. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act would increase funding for research and possibly open even more doors to understanding the cause and more importantly, the potential for truly preventing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act has the potential to prevent tragic deaths like that of Melanie Blocker Stokes.

Much of the debate surrounding the MOTHER’S Act has centered on the word “medication.” Medication does not necessarily mean Anti-depressants. It does not mean this is the ONLY way to treat a PMAD. It is merely listed as an option for treatment. And frankly, if one has a doctor with a quicker draw on his/her prescription pad than Billy the Kidd, I’d run away. I’d run away faster than a cheetah.

Another key point of the opposition has been that the MOTHER’S Act mandates screening. In the current version, there is no mandate for screening. The only mention of screening is to require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. The current standard for screening is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which you can learn more about here.

You can read a copy of the current bill by clicking here.

Go read it. (Don’t worry – it’ll pop up in a new tab/window – I’m cool like that here)

Seriously. Read. The. Bill.

Then read it again.

And then come back here. Be honest.

Unlike this week’s TIME article which failed to present both sides, I promise to allow unedited comments in support of or opposing the bill as long as they are civil. (Any comments including personal attacks will NOT be allowed!)

So let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday already!

Health care practitioners discourage disclosure of Postnatal Depression

Picture by Flickr

Picture by Flickr

In a study published yesterday, UK researchers reviewed the disclosure of Postnatal Depression from three different vantage points – the mother, the GP, and home health visitors.

The results are chilling.

The mothers reported making a conscious decision regarding their decision to disclose symptoms of Postpartum Depression which is not terribly shocking because I went through the same thing. It is most definitely a conscious decision and a difficult one at that.

The chilling result lies within the response of the Health Practioners¬† “described strategies used to hinder disclosure and described a reluctance to make a diagnosis of postnatal depression, as they had few personal resources to manage women with postnatal depression themselves, and no services to which to refer women for further treatment.”

I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut. I want to cry, scream, yell, stomp my feet. But I know that won’t change what’s going on over there and even over here because I’m sure this attitude is very pervasive in the medical community here in America as well.

Where’s the responsibility of the medical professional who turns a blind eye to the struggling new mother and actually uses strategies to prevent her from admitting she’s having a hard time? How does that serve anyone but the selfish nature of that physician? What happened to the Hippocratic Oath and “Do no Harm?”

If we pretend a problem doesn’t exist, it doesn’t go away. What if we pretended cancer was all in our heads and didn’t offer chemo, radiation, or other therapies? Would it go away or would it sit and fester, eventually killing us and hurting those around us? I think we all know that answer. It is no different with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Left untreated a new mother may even slip into Psychosis as she tries to rationalize intrusive thoughts or fall even deeper into depression and attempt to take her own life or even worse, that of her infant’s.

With all the online resources, training, and knowledge at the fingertips of even lay-people such as myself, there is no excuse for medical professionals to ignore this condition anymore. Any medical professional in my opinion who would implement strategies to hinder disclosure of symptoms should be stripped of the right to practice medicine. It’s wrong and it should NOT be acceptable. Mothers deserve to be treated honestly and with respect. They need to be given a safe place in which they are able to admit any emotional trauma or difficulty they are having. Giving them this space will foster the growth of trust and compassion rather than continue to grow the cold shoulder on which they have apparently been leaning upon.

So what can we do about this? Write about it like Katherine Stone, myself, Cheryl Jazzar, and others. SPEAK like Natalie Dombrowski, become active in online peer support like Tonya Rosenberg, talk to another mom and let her lean on you. Let her know you too have been there. Talk with doctors or their nursing staff about your experience and how important their role in discover and recovery can be. Write your Senator in support of The MOTHER’S Act as this wil laid in the growth of knowledge and support among the medical professional as well as research regarding how to bring the new mother and medical professional together. Sharing your story is the best thing a survivor can do. Our voices woven together can be the strongest advocate for increased treatment and acceptance. Won’t you lend us yours?

Blogs as Peer Support for PPD

With the recent release of the study regarding how helpful peer support is for women with Postpartum Depression, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at blogging as a form of peer support. The source of inspiration for this piece? An article by Kristin Schorsch over at the South Town Star about blogging and PPD in which yours truly is featured along with Natalie Dombrowski.

Many of the women I know who have blogs and have recovered from Postpartum Depression have found their blogging habit to be a powerful source of support. Those who read them undoubtedly feel the same way, finding strength and hope in the words that part ways with those of us who have been through the very dark in which they now find themselves enrobed.

For me, there was relief in knowing I had my blog to lean on and that through my blog I was potentially helping other families survive the very same thing I struggled against. I credit my blogging as a tremendous part of not experiencing PPD the third time around. After all, I had numerous risk factors according to several different studies and statistics.

My first risk factor lied within being a two time survivor. A third episode lies in a nearly 100% risk range. Studies have also shown that women who give birth to boys are more likely to experience Postpartum Depression than mothers who give birth to girls. My third child? A boy. I also had extenuating stressors – a marriage that was dashed onto the rocks at just 3 months postpartum after giving birth to Cameron and financial stressors to boot. Last but not least, women who experience severe pelvic pain during pregnancy are also more likely to suffer from Postpartum Depression. And guess what? I had severe pelvic pain with all three but it was the worst with Cameron. Relying solely on numbers, I should have suffered from Postpartum Depression with Cameron. Yet I didn’t.


I had peer support, social support, medication, education, blogging, meetings, advocacy, and preparation on my side.

But hey, I had all that too you say. And I still ended up suffering. Unfortunately this is where it gets tricky. What works for one woman in one situation may not work for another woman in her situation.

Why? We don’t necessarily know. What we do know is that communication with other women and TRAINED medical professionals is key to recovery. This is where I get on my soapbox.

The MOTHER’S Act would allow for research funding so we might be able to find these things out. It would also allow funding for additional social and community support programs to be implemented across the country so that no family would have to suffer silently. It would allow for women to speak up without fear about their intrusive thoughts, to admit they are not happy at a time when they feel they should be. It would educate caregivers so no more women would have to be fear being dismissed when they do speak up, as I was. It would decrease potentially lethal cases of untreated Postpartum Depression and catch episodes of Postpartum Psychosis before they reached the breaking point.

The MOTHER’S Act would finally allow for the recognition of Postpartum Mood Disorders as a true illness, allowing for the flow of ideas and treatment options between patients and clinicians to open up. It would allow us to finally create treatment networks between Pediatricians, OB’s, Therapist, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists, keeping women from slipping through the cracks and confused about which medical professional to talk with regarding their emotions.

The passage of the MOTHER’S Act would allow those of us who have survived and those of us who are still struggling to finally begin to live over the rainbow, where we deserve to live. Where there is finally acceptance, happiness, and true hope instead of disapproval, sadness, and despair that permeates the lives of so many women and families fighting to rid themselves of the beast of Postpartum Depression.

Off the soapbox now.

I blog to provide the land over the rainbow for myself and for others. We’ve fought hard enough against the rain on our own. Nothing more, nothing less. Providing hope to those who struggle behind me, those deserving of a helping hand as they claw furiously against the muddy wall of the hole they now find themselves lost inside.

We all deserve the rainbow.

Mary Jo Codey talks about PPD & The MOTHER’S Act

Yet again, Mary Jo Codey has bravely shared her story with a nation of viewers who need to know.. not only about postpartum depression, but about The MOTHERS Act which will be reintroduced to the new Congress early this spring. Thank you Mary Jo for all you have done and continue to do to help end these devastating illnesses.

Statement from Susan Dowd Stone about The MOTHER’S Act

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Republicans Bail on Advancing American Priorities Act,

but there is still encouraging news!

Despite yesterday’s senate vote not to consider The Advancing American Priorities Act at this time – which included The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act , the bill will come up again sometime soon.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is not “dead” nor was it “defeated”. While Republicans except for Senators Warner, Coleman and Smith continued their obstructionist ways and chose not to move forward on yesterday’s package of bills, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act actually has garnered broad bipartisan support. Yet its lead Republican sponsor – Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine – yesterday voted against this package of non controversial bills. I have begun the process of requesting statements from all senators whom voted NAY and I will share them with you.

Meanwhile, click on this link to see how your state senators voted. Then call them with your thanks, or let them know their vote was unacceptable!

But there is good news! The inclusion of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in this package generated unprecedented coverage by major press agencies resulting in even more attention and awareness of the need for its critical initiatives for mothers, infants and families. We have been deluged with requests for information about the bill, emailed and faxed hundreds of copies taking full advantage of this current national platform to solidify ever wider, bipartisan support for this “no brainer” bill.

We are thankful to Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Harry Reid for including this bill in The Advancing American’s Priorities Act and their determination to end the public health crisis of untreated maternal depression. We applaud their efforts and that of every senator who voted to end needless suffering. The vote was very close. The current national spotlight also refocuses attention on legislative obstructionists responsible not only for suspension of the bill’s progress, but for the lowest Congressional rating in history. The failure of our elected officials to recognize and adopt an initiative as basic and indisputable as supporting the mental health of America’s new mothers and their infants suggests a legislator/constituent divide that might only be healed through an election cycle bringing new blood and energy to an impotent Congress.

While disappointed in yesterday’s outcome, we remain encouragingly galvanized by our widening circle of support, this week’s national attention on our issue and an election which promises to shake the status quo to its core.

Meanwhile, THANK YOU to the 20,000 plus individuals who have written letters, signed the petition and verbalized their support. Thank you to the community of bloggers, who have helped spread the urgent message to mothers and families nationwide. Thank you to the national media outlets who now offer their support for the bill’s adoption and join us in expressing outrage at its further delay. We continue to prepare for the next presentation of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act with a growing force of American families who have waited too long and long enough.”