GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — What used to be known as postpartum depression is coming out of the shadows as more people recognize the pain and prevalence tied to the condition.
Postpartum depression is now known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Stacey Figg finds it hard to describe the feelings that started more than eight years ago before her first child, Riley, was born.
“Along my journey, I did have some anxiety at first. But that started to spiral,” she explained.
Figg’s anxiety became severe, leading to intrusive thoughts.
“My brain was just on a constant overload, it kind of took over,” she said.
Riley was 10 weeks old when Figg asked for help. That help included medication, therapy and Spectrum Health’s Postpartum Emotional Support Group.
“It’s a warm nurturing environment where moms feel safe. They feel safe to talk about what’s really happening,” said Nancy Roberts of Spectrum Health.
Roberts started leading the support group in 1993. She says one of the biggest steps in treating women for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders comes from doctors who screen women in the weeks and months after childbirth.
“Just asking a mom ‘How are you feeling today’ is really not adequate. Almost always, moms will put on this happy face and say, ‘I feel great. My baby’s doing well, I’m feeling physically fine.’ But so often we have to kind of peel those layers and really ask the right questions,” explained Roberts.
She says questions like how is a mother eating and how is she sleeping are more effective.
Every Tuesday night, Roberts’ group helped Figg find hope and gave her the tools she needed to tackle her second pregnancy.
“The peer support helped me. Seeing other moms who had come through this and even went on to have other children (helped),” said Figg.
The impact of her fight with perinatal mood and anxiety disorder also led Figg to change careers. She’s now a postpartum doula helping other women make it through difficult times.
“Motherhood is one of the hardest jobs that as women we are ever going to have and it’s OK to talk about that,” said Figg.