MANCHESTER NH – Mothers and their families gathered in Livingston Park at the flag football field for an event to promote maternal health, raise awareness for postpartum depression, and raise money for Postpartum Support International. Attendees began by taking a walk on the nature trail next to Dorrs Pond, then came back to congregate and share their stories with one another.
Among the groups in attendance were the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, Momentum Chiropractic, and New Futures.
“New Futures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization,” said Jillian Andrews Dubois, the organization’s Community Engagement Coordinator. “We are up in Concord. We work on all different issues over at the state house. We help connect folks in New Hampshire with opportunities to make their voice heard at the state house and help make health care work better for them.”
Much of their work has centered around NH SB 175, called the Momnibus Bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Becky Whitley who represents District 15 (Concord, Penacook, Hopkinton, and Bow.) The bill seeks to expand Medicaid access to postpartum services from 60 days to 12 months, doula services, lactation services, and donor breast milk for eligible infants among other services for mothers who are nursing or pregnant.
Postpartum depression, called perinatal depression by clinical psychologists, can occur within the first year of pregnancy. According to Kaela Stuart-Parrigon of Kent State University and Dr. Scott Stuart of the University of Iowa “the first year after delivery is replete with many unique psychosocial stressors.”
A 2005 article published in Obstetrics and Gynecology by Gavin et. al suggests that 19.2% of women have a major depressive episode during the first three months following delivery of a newborn. A major depressive episode, according to the DSMV, is defined as having a depressed mood for two or more weeks and a loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities. Thoughts of suicide and insomnia may also occur.
“One thing we want to make sure we do is for moms to have access to affordable healthcare,” Dubois said. “We also worked on a big bill that was added to the budget so that families can access affordable child care. It’s not good for your mental health if you can’t access affordable child care.”
Also present was Jordan McAllister, a therapist with a private practice who works in Mirror Lake, NH, an hour and a fifteen-minute drive from Manchester.
“I had my own challenges postpartum,” McAllister said. “I had a hard time accessing support with that. I didn’t really know where to go, so that motivated me to be able to help others in their situations.”
While organizers and attendees spoke together, children played in the background. One adventurous child crawled through a tube, just to see what was on the other side – a reminder of the joys and challenges of motherhood.