T came to Hope Women’s Center with a baby on her hip and a toddler clinging to her leg. “I’m overwhelmed,” T said, in tears. “I met a lady at the park who said you could help.” Hope staff welcomed T inside and brought her children to the childcare area to play. T continued to cry while filling out her intake form, so a mentor led her to a quiet room and sat with her. That’s when T opened up. “Ever since I had my last baby, I’m just not in a good place. I feel so lonely. I can’t snap out of it.” The mentor suggested T try the postpartum mom’s support group, adding, “What you’re experiencing isn’t uncommon. You’re not alone.”
Within a few months, T was smiling again. “The group has helped me so much. I’m having fun with my kids now and I’ve learned ways to work through the overwhelming moments. Other moms in the group are some of my closest friends now. We check on each other throughout the week, which helps me remember I’m not the only one having hard days. I even invited a mom from my neighborhood to come to Hope. I don’t want any mom to suffer in silence like I did!”
Vulnerable women are hungry women, women who can’t pay the bills, women in abuse, without support, or women without a home. But the lesser known reality is, pregnant and postpartum women are especially vulnerable. Think about it: sleep-deprivation, hormone fluctuations, lack of support, and the demands of parenting are extremely challenging, especially when they’re occurring all at once for weeks and months at a time!
As many as one in two moms living in poverty experience severe depression or mood disorders during pregnancy or after giving birth, but the symptoms are rarely spoken of and not often detected. Arizona’s low-income pregnant women are a population we can’t afford to overlook, especially because perinatal and postpartum mood disorders are completely treatable with proper care.
For three years, Hope has provided free maternal mental health coaching, education, and support groups to pregnant and postpartum women at our six centers. We blend our holistic care lens with the expertise of two other women’s health organizations, supporting women so they can write, or rewrite, family stories that are happy, healthy, and restored.