TELFORD, Tenn. (WJHL) — May is Maternal Mental Health Month aimed at raising awareness about the mental health struggles mothers may face.
Cherished Mom, a non-profit out of Telford, aims to raise awareness and educate mothers and families about perinatal mental health. Perinatal Mental Health refers to mental health during pregnancy and the postpartum period after delivery.
Founder, Kristina Dulaney, is a registered nurse, but she said her specialization in the community came after her own experience with postpartum psychosis. She said there’s a stigma that exists surrounding new moms experiencing challenges with a new baby at home.
“I think the stigma stems from societal expectations of mothers and families in general,” said Dulaney. “That then becomes internal, where we think we are not good enough, we should do this, we should do that, we shouldn’t be feeling the way that we do. So, I think society plays a big role in that.”
Advocates said perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are far more common than many people realize, impacting 1 in 5 women. Some face a greater risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders, but it can impact any mother regardless of circumstance.
Mothers receive frequent care during pregnancy, but Dulaney said post-delivery focus tends to shift completely to the baby.
“It’s almost like the mother is forgotten,” said Dulaney. “While the mother is trying her best to take care of this new baby. We teach a lot about how to take care of babies and how to get the baby earthside, but we don’t talk enough about what do we do if we aren’t feeling joyful? Is that OK? Is that normal? And what resources are available?”
However, Dulaney said she thinks we’re reaching a time where we can shift those expectations for mothers and are creating more support systems for them.
The Health Resources and Services Administration recently launched a new Maternal Mental Health Hotline. The hotline connects callers with a trained counselor for support and resources.
Cherished Mom offers a weekly Pregnant and Postpartum support group and a Perinatal Grief and Loss group twice a month.
Dulaney said loved ones can offer a lot of support for the mothers in their lives.
“If there’s a new mom that you know, reach out to her and ask if there’s anything you can do to help ask how she’s feeling, and not just physically but add the word, how are you feeling emotionally? And maybe consider not asking just once,” said Dulaney. “Anything that just makes you think she’s not acting like herself, think into that and try to dig deeper and offer support and resources if they’re available.”
Kaylee Pancake is a mom to three and says she met Dulaney by chance when she catered a Cherished Mom event. She said it wasn’t until she suffered a miscarriage later that she learned about all the resources the organization offers.
“I was actually unaware that they offered a grief and loss support group,” said Pancake. “So that’s really nice to know that that’s there. So now I can not only know, for myself, if I’m starting to feel down again, but if somebody crossed my path I can point them in the right direction.”
Pancake said as a mom, she wants other moms to know it’s OK and important to seek help for themselves.
“Somebody out there has gone through either the exact same thing or something very similar,” said Pancake. “It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to put yourself first for that split second because, without mom, the world doesn’t go round.”
For more information and resources from Cherished Mom, visit their website here.
If you or a loved one needs perinatal counseling, you can call the Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-943-5746.
Cherished Mom will be taking part in the annual Climb out of Darkness event on Saturday, Sept. 17. To join their team or for more information visit its team page here.