Blog
May 11
Guest Blog: Saratoga Hospital Nurses Launch New Mom Support Group

Ann Friedman with The Daily Gazette interviewed three of our nurses in honor of National Nurses Month. The piece was published on May 1, 2022. 

Three Saratoga Hospital nurses are seeking to change how new mothers are supposed as well as break the stigma surrounding perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression.

Women's Health Services Unit nurses Kelly Mosher, RNC, Courtney Keller, BSN, RN, CYT, CCE and Amanda LeCours, BS, RN, C-EFM, launched the Maternal Mental Health Support Group in April.

Courtney Keller"We meet [virtually] the first and third Thursday of every month, and it's a place for new moms to connect and be part of a community," Keller said. "There's a lot of power knowing you're seen and heard, and sometimes that's all people need."

Mosher added, "It doesn't have to be difficult to find the help and support they need, and day-to-day life with a new baby is a massive life change, so having that validation is everything."

According to Saratoga Hospital, more than 70% of women experience the "baby blues" after childbirth, which can lead to crying without reason, difficulty eating, sleeping, and decision-making, and can result in new mothers questioning their ability to care for their newborn.

"If they're experiencing a perinatal mood disorder, we want to help to take the stigma out of it and point them in the right direction for resources," LeCours said. "It's also not a structured group, so it gives them a platform to works omething out and connect with others."

Providing Extra Support

The Maternal Mental Health Support Group, made possible by a donation from the River Farm America Foundation, a private, Saratoga Springs-bsaed foundation, took nearly two years to launch.

Aside from the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, Mosher, Keller, and LeCours needed to determine how the group would function. They also had to complete training from Postpartum Support International, a Portland, Oregan-based organization that aims to raise awareness about the emotional changes women experience during pregnancy and postpartum.

"The training was a great resource," Mosher said. "After that, we met to talk about logistics, how we'd screen patients, how exactly we would meet their needs, and how to get new moms to sign up."

In addition to the trio of nurses, three midwives and one social worker oversee the support group.

Amanda LeCours"There are no age requirements for the participant's children, and they don't have to have given birth at Saratoga Hospital to join," LeCours said. "We want to make sure the group is able to provide them something even if it's only support and connection. And if they need more resources in order to seek further treatment, we can provide that as well."

LeCours added, "It's a free resource, which is great because so many people get caught up with the cost of mental health care. I'm excited to be able to offer this to the community."

Saratoga Hospital Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Toni Bishop-McWain said the nurses researched best practices and brought together a multidisciplinary team to address the challenges of the fourth trimester.

"Amanda, Courtney, and Kelly saw a vulnerable patient group—new moms and their partners—and found a way to provide extra support during what can be a very lonely time," said Bishop-McWain. "I'm proud of everyone involved and of Saratoga Hospital for creating an environment where nurses are encouraged to collaborate and innovate to provide the best possible care for our patients."

Going Above and Beyond

In addition to launching the support group, Saratoga Hospital's focus on perinatal mental health also includes patient screening.

According to Keller, before being discharged from Saratoga Hospital, new mothers are given a survey, currently focused on depression, which is scored by a nurse. 

"Depending on the score, the patient is offered a maternal mental health consultation prior to discharge," she said. "Additionally, they will be scheduled to come in for an early postpartum follow-up appointment and offered outpatient mental health services."

For Keller, perinatal mood disorders weren't something she heard much about when she gave birth to her first two children. 

"When I had my third child, there was more talk about mood disorders and even in the last two years there has been so much more awareness and screening tools," she said. "I hope this group can further enhance women being heard."

Keller, who also launched the prenatal yoga program at Saratoga Hospital, said adding to the roster of services Saratoga Hospital provides is meaningful.

"The care we provide patients is above and beyond, and we use evidence-based, cutting edge care for the whole family," she said. "As a nurse, I like to help people and in addition to helping mothers before and during birth, this support group allows us to continue to support them after birth. It's in line with why we're all in this profession."

Changing the Conversation

Though the Maternal Mental Health Support Group has only met virtually since it launched in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mosher said she's looking forward to taking the group offline. 

Kelly Mosher"I'm really excited to see it be live and in-person, hopefully soon," she said. "The level of connection in-person will be tremendous."

Mosher is also hoping the support group changes the conversation surrounding perinatal mood disorders. 

"I want to see it become a common practice for people to talk about perinatal mood disorders and not feel shame about being a new parent and needing a community," she said. "This support group can be part of the experience we offer new moms and maybe it'll make them choose Saratoga Hospital overo thers to receive their care."

LeCours added, "I want the support and education we're offering about perinatal mood disorders to be the standard. There's nothing to be ashamed of and there's so much help and support you can seek. We're right here, all you have to do is reach out."

For more information about Saratoga Hospital's Maternal Mental Health Support Group, call 518-580-2871.


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