Hospital creates support group for maternal mental health

GREENFIELD — A new support group aimed at helping expecting or new mothers begins in January at Hancock Regional Hospital.

Starting Jan. 3, mothers in Hancock County will have a closer option for a place to discuss their struggles and triumphs. Melody Hufstedler, a marriage and family therapist with Oases Counseling Center in Greenfield, will facilitate a free support group for expecting or new mothers called “Beyond the Baby Blues.”

Some 14 percent of mothers experience a maternal mental illness, including depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, and for several years those struggling with maternal mental illness have had to travel to the north side of Indianapolis to attend a support group, said Linda Garrity, hospital community education coordinator.

The new support group provides a place for women to come and talk about how they’re feeling and figure out whether what they’re experiencing is the “baby blues,” a common experience of mood swings after the birth of a child, or a more serious issue like postpartum depression, Garrity said.

“We want to be able to support them through the whole journey into motherhood,” she said.

Those leading the group have personal experience with the confusing feelings that can occur after the birth of a child.

Hufstedler, a mother of two, said she experienced postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of her eldest child.

She’s glad to be able to provide support services to the community where she works, she said. She previously co-led a similar group in Indianapolis and recently completed a two-day training seminar offered through Postpartum Support International, a national nonprofit working to educate the public and healthcare professionals about emotional changes affecting mothers during and after pregnancy.

The training was surprising and encouraging but at times heartbreaking when it delved into the topic of what can happen when women don’t get the care they need, Hufstedler said.

“A lot of people involved in this kind of outreach have the same story,” she said. “They went through it themselves and wished something had been there when they needed it.”

Leah Reynolds, a supervisor at the McCordsville Hancock Wellness Center, also has volunteered her time to help lead the support group.

She knew right away that something wasn’t right after her son, now 6 months old, was born, she said.

“I went through a difficult pregnancy, emotionally, and I didn’t realize how much can happen during the pregnancy itself,” she said. “I knew my family had a history of depression, and I recognized the signs pretty quickly in the first couple of weeks after he was born.”

Though some days are still tough, the road to healing started when she reached out to her doctor. She hopes by sharing her story with other women in the community she can help others through their hard days, too.

The group is free and open to any expecting mom or new mother up to about a year after their child is born. Those who attend do not have to be Hancock Health patients, Garrity added.

“To be around other new moms is really beneficial as well,” she said.

Moms are welcome to bring their infants or babies, Garrity said; those with older children are asked to let leaders know if they’re going to bring them.

If you go

Beyond the Baby Blues

Peer-led support group for perinatal mental disorders

First meeting:

6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 3, bariatric room, Hancock Regional Hospital, 801 N. State St., Greenfield, IN 46140

Meetings will be conducted weekly on Wednesdays.

Facilitated by Melody Hufstedler, licensed marriage and family therapist

Author photo
Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.