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Proposal: Postpartum depression? You're not alone

"Birth is a three legged stool, a healthy mom, a healthy baby and a healthy birth. Without ANY one leg, it is equally unstable!" Sharon Muza. A healthy mother, child, and birth makes me think about sunshine coming through wispy curtains, slowly blowing along with the fresh spring air, a feeling of contentment in the room. What if the truth of how people feel after giving birth isn't always sunshine and daisies, instead it's the terrifying feeling of dark grey sludge in murky water? Would you do something to help the mother, child, and father from these debilitating feelings?

The Issue

Problem Defined

I want the knowledge in this area to be greater about Postpartum Depression and Postpartum PTSD. I want mothers and fathers to be able to get the help they need to live the best lives they can with their families. I believe there are some people who are treating their Postpartum disorder with drug usage, because sometimes it can be their only way of escaping the painful experience going through their minds all the time. 

Expand all bullets
85,000 mothers and 35,000 fathers suffer from Postpartum Depression every yearMORE

353,000 babies are born each day, 15% of mothers have Postpartum Depression, and 9% of mothers have Postpartum PTSD from the birth of their children. Men can also develop postpartum depression, one out of ten men will experience postpartum depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum DepressionMORE

Postpartum depression is a depressive period followed after a birth. Many symptoms are the same symptoms that come with depression not from the birth of a child, including:

  • anger
  • loss in pleasure of doing activities that are usually enjoyable
  • panic attacks
  • fatigue
  • crying
  • weight gain or loss
  • insomnia

PD can sever the bond between the family, because it can be so strong the person effected with it can lose complete interest in the child or the spouse. 

An image of a crying infant and a mother staring at the wall comes to mind, unsure of what to do, completely stuck in her dark thoughts. 

Severing the bond between parent and childMORE

Postpartum Depression has been proven to significantly interfere with the child's social, emotional and cognitive development. Children with a depressed parent are 2 to 4 times as likely to develop depression themselves, and breastfed infants whose mothers had postpartum depression gained weight much slower than babies with mothers who aren't depressed (Parents).

Postpartum PTSDMORE

Postpartum PTSD is trauma from giving birth. An unexpected C section, the child ending up in the NICU, even normal occurrences during birth can seem like something that isn't supposed to happen, sending the mother into a state of reliving the experience of the traumatic birth over and over again. There have been cases where the Postpartum PTSD lasts for 30 or more years after the birth, because help was not available. 

How does this tie in with our area?MORE

Little research has been done to see how many people with postpartum mental disorders turn to drugs and alcohol to 'self medicate' (Postpartum substance usage), but it is most likely a fair amount. Out of four people with mental disorders, one of them tends to turn to illegal drugs or alcohol to numb the pain (Dual Diagnosis), could this possibly be one of the reasons drug usage is so high?

Go deeper

I am passionate about pregnancy and birth, I have always had an absurd fascination with the topic. In second grade we were assigned to do a board that talked about what we want to be when we grow up, I chose being a midwife. Somehow, that idea has stuck for the passed 11 years, and I can't imagine pursuing any other field in life.

Diane McMahon
Associate Professor of Sociology - Allegany College of Maryland
I am a sociology professor at Allegany College of Maryland, which is located in Cumberland, MD. I also work as the Faculty Director of the Service Learning and Civic Engagement (SLCE) Center at the college. I have worked in a variety of professions in my past that focuses on helping the homeless. Most recently I was the director of a peace and justice organization in Pittsburgh.

I am a great supporter of the work of TheChisel.com because it helps raise up topics that students and community members can work on together, in a bi-partisan manner, to address.
Aleena Rock
Student Seeking Change - Allegany College of Maryland
Future Nurse-Midwife passionate about the mental and emotional (and of course physical health) of new mothers and their infants.

The Solution

Proposed Actions
Expand all bullets
Get the word out!!!MORE

Supplying pamphlets with information on Postpartum Depression and Postpartum PTSD at doctor's offices for people with babies to skim through could be useful. Having lots of information on the pamphlets about the symptoms and the risk factors for PPD available for anyone to read could help to establish a "oh, that's not normal, I need to mention this to my doctor" type of response. 

Start having bimonthly meetings available where mothers can goMORE

Having a spot that is available to the general public for free therapy would be very beneficial. Postpartum Support International, an international support group having to do with postpartum mental disorders, has different chapters individuals can open up and assist those in an area dealing with postpartum mental disorders. Maryland does not have a chapter, so opening one up in Maryland, specifically Allegany County, could get the word out about the disorders even more. 

Low cost babysittersMORE

Many people with postpartum mental disorders feel completely stuck in their lives. A local female I talked to said she has 15 friends who have given birth in the past three years, and each and every one of them developed postpartum depression. She said the main cause for their onset of depression was from a lack of being able to continue living their lives. Even the most devoted mother should have the option of a low cost baby sitter to watch their child for a few hours so they can have a moment to breathe. 

Having a public babysitting spot open to the public for free to low cost babysitting in a popular area could be a wonderful thing to do for the community. 

Mandatory screeningsMORE

"Screening for depression in the postpartum period “will save lives,” says lead author, Katherine L. Wisner, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine." (Seleni). Twenty percent of mothers with PD commit suicide. 52590*.2= 10,518 mothers are at risk for suicide each day, due to this condition. 

Free birthing classesMORE

Having high quality birthing classes to tell mothers exactly what they should expect during the birth would take away the unknown of births, and improve mental health. "Taking a course is not a requirement; you'll get to give birth no matter what," says Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You're Expecting(Workman Publishing). "It's just that they call it 'childbirth preparation' for a reason: it helps prepare you. It takes the mystery out of it. Information is empowering, and what you don't know can scare you more than it should." (Dana Fillippo).

Expected Results
Expand all bullets
More information leads to...MORE

People being able to "diagnose" themselves. A worry among some mothers is that their babies will be taken away from them, leaving them to suffer in silence, effecting everyone they know. 20% of mothers with Postpartum Depression commit suicide, screening for PD at multiple of the doctor's visits would save lives. 

A babysitting and therapy placeMORE

Jobs would be acquired, because the place of therapy, childcare, and knowledge should be open from 10am-6pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday 12pm-4pm. The building should be located in downtown Cumberland, convenient for mothers and fathers to come to. The price tag is pretty high, but having a place for mental health and family life to come together and to be celebrated will save lives, get people jobs, and educate those who need it. 

Educating the publicMORE

The closest birthing class to Cumberland, MD is in Fairfax, VA. The hospital's site doesn't even show any birthing classes available soon. Having a place where people can go, separate from the hospital (a place many women with Postpartum PTSD can't stand to go) would be beneficial for therapy, and for free babysitting during the therapy session in just the next room. The sessions would educate the public, and supply help to those who need it most.

Pamphlets would be the simplest wayMORE

Pamphlets would be the simplest way to get the word out, but after someone knows that they have it, what should they do? Having a spot in downtown Cumberland that would teach and support the people going through a very difficult time, supplying help and therapy to get the mother or father to feel better. Drug usage would not be the only way someone could "get help", because their drug usage would NOT help, it would drag the economy down, and ruin their individual lives.


$ 88,526 Dollars would be spent per year
Renting a building: $1,200/month
Paying 3 Full-time babysitters: $30.30/hour, 5 days *8 hours*30.30= $1,212+ (4hours *30.30)=1,212+121.2=1,333.2/week

1,333.2*52= $69,326.4
+ 1,200*12= $14,400 per year
$400/month for food= $4,800

$88,526 would be spent per year. It could be even less with babysitters volunteering to watch them.

The Conversation

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