Maria Bruno, a North Carolina mom, felt an incredible despair after the birth of her first baby and sought advice from her midwife. The only available help came from an impatient mental health facility where she was placed alongside withdrawing drug addicts and schizophrenic patients.
She was separated from her baby and monitored to make sure she didn’t strangle herself with pump parts when she expressed milk for her baby. Though Bruno’s condition was serious, this wasn’t the kind of care she needed. She needed to be in treatment for postpartum mood disorders. She was experiencing postpartum depression.
NPR tells her story and how it inspired Chris Raines, a therapist at UNC’s Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program ,to establish the very first inpatient clinic for women with postpartum depression. Many of the comments made on the NPR website, affirm just how necessary places like this are:
“This article brought tears to my eyes. Tired, exhausted tears. Tears of joy. Tears that wished my own community would have had something like this months ago when I was at my most desperate, darkest point… I pray that other clinics like this begin to pop up and that less and less women have to go through the hell associated with Postpartum Mood Disorders and the uphill battle to get proper treatment.”
“This story is familar. [sic] I was told to ‘pump and dump.’ I wasn’t allowed to see my baby, he was 9 days old. I went to AA meetings and NA meetings, met a lot of bipolar people and people with drug addictions. I was also attacked by another woman in my ward. I spent my evenings in solitary because my “ward mate” threated [sic] to hurt me during the night.”
The new center has offers, by comparison: breast pumps, rocking chairs, individual and family therapy, extended visiting hours with the babies.
Postpartum Mood Disorders can happen in up to 25% of all mothers. And prognosis is excellent for women who get treatment. Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, who directs the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, says the clinic can serve as a model for what should be happening elsewhere. I couldn’t agree more.