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Postpartum Resource Group: Kalispell’s new nonprofit for moms

Postpartum Resource Group

By Debra Guinn, MD, maternal-fetal specialist, Montana Perinatal Center; Nikki Williams, Postpartum Resource Group of Marketing and Communications; and Jana Sund, CNM and Postpartum Resource Group president

Over the past several years, our column “Mothers and Babies” has shared articles related to problems that affect pregnancy, but often are treatable. For example, mental disorders of pregnancy are common and preventable. It is true that resources are limited in western Montana; therefore, we are eager to present new postpartum resource option that is now available in our community. If you or someone you know has concerns regarding any psychiatric issues during or after pregnancy, please encourage them to pursue help. Montana Perinatal Center is always available to help.

Women are particularly vulnerable in the postpartum period when hormones fluctuate greatly, sleep may be hard to come by and mothers are tired, both physically and mentally. Often what new moms are experiencing has been coined the “baby blues.” However, a significant number of women experience one or more of the more serious postpartum mood disorders (PPMD), a term that encompasses not only depression, but a spectrum of mood issues, including anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and the more severe psychosis. About 15% of new moms present symptoms related to postpartum depression, and if factoring in mothers who have miscarried or have had babies who are stillborn, that’s about 900,000 women in the United States alone1. In sum, nearly one million moms are trying to feel their way through this challenging and dark time, and often they are doing this alone. In fact, that number is expected to actually be much higher since the statistics are based on symptoms related to depression only, and this figure reflects just the women who had the courage to self-report those symptoms.

Unlike the baby blues, postpartum mood disorders force mothers to endure much more serious emotional, mental, and physical symptoms that do not usually subside on their own. Until now, the Flathead Valley did not have an established support group devoted to addressing the variety of individual needs of women suffering from postpartum mood disorders. Postpartum Resource Group is the community’s new non-profit organization dedicated to the women, babies, and families enduring PPMD. The mission of this local group is to provide support, advocacy, and resources for mothers experiencing postpartum mood disorders, as well as to educate and inform the community and providers about the conditions post-birth. Ideally, with better education of this disorder, stigma surrounding the topic will be reduced and moms and families will get much needed help during a critical time.

Postpartum Resource Group has outlined three phases of development to meet all of the components of their mission. Phase one includes a monthly peer support group for mothers that currently meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at The Summit Medical Fitness Center in Conference Room 1. There is also a confidential, closed, online peer support group on Facebook where moms (and dads) can find peer-to-peer advice. The monthly support group is led by members of the group’s board of directors - all of whom are experienced, strong women who are passionate advocates for the cause; reducing shame, and offering wisdom and solidarity to other mothers experiencing PPMD.

The second phase of development for Postpartum Resource Group will entail recruiting volunteers and resource coordinators to the effort to help establish and enhance various community resources. Many hands make light work and the goal is to create a community network of moms and families with varied backgrounds so each person seeking help can find a shoulder to lean on.

The third, and final, step includes a vision where Postpartum Resource Group will have trained resource coordinators to assist a mother in crisis by coordinating the level of care that addresses her individual needs. The goal is to help the mother gain control of her situation by organizing personal resources like friends, church members, and family who may help provide solutions for critical needs like sleep, childcare, homecare, or meals. The group will also work with the mother and her personal support system to manage community resources of a larger scope, including mental health, education, and medication (if appropriate), among others.

Postpartum Resource Group is currently seeking dedicated volunteers. All mothers who would like to attend the monthly meeting are welcome. More information about Postpartum Resource Group may be found at postpartumresourcegroup.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  1. "The Statistics." Postpartum Progress. N.p., 18 Dec. 2013.
  2. "Postpartum Depression." American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association.

First published in Montana Woman magazine, September 2017