The free group is open to all mothers; participants can visit once or on a regular basis. Some have even visited the group decades after giving birth to share their stories.
About 15% of women experience postpartum depression, with higher rates for women in poverty or teen parents, PSI reports. Though depression is the most common complication of childbirth, this condition is just one of an entire set of mood and anxiety disorders women can experience during pregnancy, birth or up to two years after delivery, a time known as the perinatal period.
Sirene Lipschutz, a social worker in Flagstaff trained in perinatal mental health, said these disorders also include anxiety and various disorders related to this life stage, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar mood disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“The power in perinatal mental health is that we are supporting moms because when it comes to pregnancy, birth and childrearing, moms give so much of themselves, they lose their autonomy and all of the focus is on the baby,” Lipschutz said. “We often hear moms being released from the hospital being told, ‘At least your baby is healthy,’ as if that is the thing that’s supposed to hold us all together: that the baby is fine, even when we are falling apart, sometimes in a pretty major way.”
Many of these perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can also affect fathers, partners or other family members during this period. PSI reports one in 10 fathers get postpartum depression and up to 18% develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder at some point during the pregnancy or the first year postpartum.