Proud Mama Support Services hosts a perinatal peer support group every other Saturday in Corvallis. Here are some common questions people have about our group and who it serves.
Who can come to the support group?
Anyone who is pregnant, recently postpartum, or continues to struggle with issues related to pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, birth, the postpartum recovery, or very early parenting is welcome to come.
What if I don't have depression but I'm still having a hard time?
This group is for you! Depression is just one of many possible ways that a pregnant or postpartum person may be struggling with mood or mental health. Anxiety is a very common struggle and we talk about it a lot in our group. We also help support people who are dealing with scary intrusive thoughts, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, traumatic or toxic stress related to the birth or other perinatal experience, and people recovering from postpartum psychosis.
What if I don't have a diagnosis?
It is not necessary to have a diagnosis or to get a referral from your doctor or midwife in order to come to the group. Don't worry about whether you are struggling "enough" to come to the group. We all have bad days. We can all give and get support. This group is for you!
Is there a cost?
There is no cost to participants. We raise the funds to run the group through individual donations and our annual event, Climb Out of the Darkness, a family-friendly event which celebrates the resilience and honors the struggle of those who deal with mental health and mood struggles during pregnancy and postpartum. If you are inspired to help support the work we do through the support group, your generous donation is greatly appreciated.
Do you offer childcare?
At this time, we are not equipped to offer childcare at the meeting space. Pre-mobile babies are welcome to come with you to the group meeting.
Who runs the group?
The group is managed and facilitated by Proud Mama Support Services. We are supported by Restore Physical Therapy, who donates the use of their space, and by other organizations in the community.
What training does the facilitator have?
Our facilitator has attended multiple trainings on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through Postpartum Support International. She has completed a certificate in perinatal peer social support, and has additional training in Mental Health First Aid, and in supporting parents who have experience infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or other loss. She is also a trained postpartum doula who has worked directly with postpartum women and their families for over a year.
I feel anxious about group support. I'm not sure it would help me.
We get it. Group support is not for everyone. It may or may not be a good fit for you, and that's ok. In our group meetings, there are both introverts and extroverts. There are people who are really struggling daily with anxiety and depression, and there are people who have been gaining skills for coping with and healing mood issues for a longer time, but have struggled deeply in the past. Wherever you are in your experience, you have a place in our group.
Come try out the group and if you don't like it, that's ok. If you want to leave early or only come one time, that is ok and we won't demand an explanation from you.
My kids are older/I'm not really "postpartum" anymore. Can I still come?
Yes! If you've been suffering with mood issues that stem from your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience and they have not been addressed or treated, there is not a magic time when they will just go away. It's never too late to get some support around these issues. We have had women come to our group who gave birth ten or twelve years ago and still found our group to be healing and helpful. Please join us. Your perspective and story is valuable and important.
What if I'm in crisis and I need immediate help?
If you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please call 911 right now.
If you are not in immediate danger but you need to talk to someone right now, please call one of these numbers:
1-800-944-4773 (Postpartum Support International Warmline)
1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
While our support group is not equipped to provide crisis intervention, we do have a crisis protocol and we will respond to an immediate need for further assistance or treatment responsibly.
How many people come to the group?
We usually have between 6-8 people at the 9-11am group and 4-6 people at the 12-2pm group.
Is it therapy?
Peer group support is an evidence-based treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Our group differs from group therapy because we stay within the scope of peer support. Our facilitator is not a licensed therapist or counselor, and we do not offer any sort of diagnosis or medical advice.
Are babies and kids welcome?
Pre-mobile (before they are walking) babies are welcome to come with you. Some people find that they get the most out of the group if their baby stays in the care of someone they trust and they come by themselves. Older children need to be cared for elsewhere as we cannot offer childcare at the support group. If you want to come to the meeting but are finding that childcare is a barrier, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can dads and partners come?
Absolutely! This group is for everyone. Did you know 1 in 10 fathers experience postpartum depression? If you are a partners/dad who is is struggling themselves, or are coming in support of their wives/partners, we welcome you to join us.
I can't make it to your meeting time, but I still want support. What are my options?
Postpartum Support International has several online support group options. Click below for more information.
Another local option for group support is Hope For Mothers, which meets in Albany.
If you are interested in individual therapy, there are a number of therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors in our area who specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Please contact us at email@example.com or 541-714-5859 and we will help get you connected to a mental health provider who takes your insurance, or if you have any further questions about our support group or the other services we offer. Thank you!
Update: Watch our pre-viewing discussion of the movie here.
A raw look at parenting a newborn is coming to theaters on May 4, and it's powerful.
Like motherhood, the film is complicated, contradictory, surprising, and at times will likely leave audiences feeling blindsided.
Whether or not you choose to read the spoilers (and here and here), and whether or not you choose to see the film in theaters, this movie is bringing strong reactions for those of us who have lived experience similar to the characters in the film, and for those of us who work with pregnant and postpartum women.
Part of the reason we are seeing such a strong reaction to this movie, and to the spoilers, is that there are so few representations of real motherhood in popular culture and film. We feel hope that this movie will FINALLY show people how it really is for us. We feel a sense of excitement that maybe this film will finally shed light on an area of our lives that is largely invisible and misunderstood.
Because Tully is one of the only representations on film of some of our common experiences of motherhood (as seen in the trailer) it feels like the true work of motherhood may finally be drawn out of the darkness, and maybe those people in our lives that don't see those acts of daily motherhood will gain a deeper understanding of how hard we are working, and finally say, "I didn't get it, but now I do. I get it now." We want to be able to use Tully as something we can share with others as a window to our own experience, because we so desperately want people to see the realities of the postpartum time and the realities of modern parenthood. When/if we feel like Tully is no longer a story that represents us because of twists in the storyline, it can bring feelings of disappointment, even betrayal.
Part of why there are such strong reactions to Tully is that there has never been a representation of motherhood like this in the media. The fact that a story like this was written by Diablo Cody, a woman who was writing from her own experience, the fact that this movie has high-profile celebrities like Charlize Theron talking about her own experience of postpartum depression, and that it starts a conversation around how often maternal mental health struggles are misdiagnosed, mismanaged, or missed altogether by medical providers and other points of contact-- those are all great things. We are excited that this movie provides an opportunity to bring these important topics to light, in hopes that fewer women like Marlo slip through the cracks. Instead, we hope we can use Marlo's story to bolster the support net around women in the postpartum period.
But, there is also a danger that comes when we characterize or stereotype an entire group of people (postpartum moms) from a single representation of that group in the media. There is a danger that comes from having just a single story.
When there is only one story in popular culture that supposedly represents a group, we risk a mischaracterization and an oversimplification of the complexities with which people who belong to that group live. The single story comes to stand for the whole group's story.
There is also a danger when we ourselves look to a single story or a single character to somehow represent all of us. Just because neither Marlo nor Tully fully represents me as a mother or as a postpartum doula doesn't mean there isn't value in their story being told. Just because I have serious criticisms of Tully's behavior in the film and I know she is definitely a flawed representative of my profession, I am still excited to see a film where a postpartum mom has a support person like Tully.
We must keep in mind that as powerful and groundbreaking as this film may be, it is still simply a piece of media produced by Hollywood for the purposes of making money. We hope it can become more than that, but we can't forget that it is just a single story, based on the experience of one woman who lives with a lot of privilege in our culture. If we are saddened by the fact that Marlo fell through the cracks and this movie shows how alone she is in her struggle with mental health issues in the postpartum period, we must respond to that sadness with the awareness that those living with less privilege are at even greater risk for being unheard, unseen, and untreated.
We all want to be seen. We all deserve to be seen.
Proud Mama Support Services thinks this movie is important, whether or not people choose to see it. The fact that it was produced in the first place and that big name actors were interested in the script and committed to such a raw and heartfelt performance is significant and refreshing.
As we approach the release date of the movie, we are setting up a variety of ways the community can engage with us in the conversations that this film brings to light. We are ready to dig in to those conversations! Please stay tuned here on our blog and on Facebook for more opportunities to connect with us and to hear our perspective as people on the front lines of supporting women and families during this time.