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Supporting Mothers in the Postpartum

By Archives, birth, Breastfeeding, Feeding Baby, Maternal Mental Health, Parenting, Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders, pregnancy, Published Work

Written by Emily Clewis on behalf of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and the Maternal Mental Health Task Force of Helena.

In honor of May as Maternal Mental Health Month, Helena’s Maternal Mental Health Task Force, in partnership with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies, would like to highlight ways that communities can support moms during the postpartum period.

While holding a new baby is exciting, it’s the birthing person that truly needs to be held, loved and supported in this golden but vulnerable time. Their body and mind will have run the ultimate marathon and they will need support. If the mother is well supported during this time, she can care well for the new baby. If you’re visiting in the first weeks, remember you are there to support the parents. Remind them they don’t need to host you and that you are there to help.

Always ask parents before coming to visit. In the blur of the first few weeks, flexibility is best! Remember: new babies have no sense of night or day, so parents may be sleeping with their little ones at noon after being up all night. If they say they are welcoming visitors, when you get to their house, wash your hands well and keep your face away from the baby. Babies are vulnerable to common illnesses. Offer to bring by healthy snacks or a ready to heat nutritious meal! New moms, especially those breastfeeding, will be hungry often as it takes much energy to care for newborns. If they feed the baby while you’re there, help her put her feet up and offer to get her water or a snack (then, maybe do the dishes).

Look around the home for things that need to be done; laundry, dishes, taking out the trash, etc. If there are older children in the house offer to watch a movie with them or take them on a walk. Always ask the parents if it’s okay to hold the baby. If they say yes, encourage them to take a shower or quick nap while you’re there. Ask new parents what they need, they will likely tell you! Finally, don’t overstay. Parents during this time are heavily exhausted, and even well-meaning company can make parents feel the need to entertain. An hour or so is plenty in those first few weeks, unless the parents ask otherwise!

Keep in mind that the No. 1 complication of birth is postpartum depression. One in six Montana mothers will experience it. Knowing the signs and symptoms of mood disorders in the postpartum period increases the likelihood of treatment. Some things to look for include sadness, guilt, inability to make decisions, poor self-care, low self-esteem, mood swings, appetite changes, excessive crying and more. While only a health care provider can offer treatment, if you, or the new mom in your life, is experiencing any of these symptoms, encourage them that it’s not their fault they feel that way, and that help is available through their OB or primary care physician.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic may have made the experience of having a little one more nerve racking. Families may have varying feelings of comfortability having multiple visitors during this vulnerable period of recovery. Ask parents what precautions they may be taking and if they are up for visitors! If they aren’t, you can still support them by dropping off easy-to-heat meals, or sending a gift card to DoorDash, Grubhub or their favorite restaurant.

Families in the postpartum, or fourth trimester, thrive with healthy community support. Additionally, moms are less likely to suffer from perinatal depression and babies have better health outcomes. Together, we can ensure that parents have a positive postpartum experience!

Published in Missoulian 

Published in the Billings Gazette 

 

 

BCBSMT AWARDS $50,000 GRANT TO HEALTHY MOTHERS, HEALTHY BABIES

By Archives, Published Work
Aug. 14, 2017

Montana chapter to partner with three communities to help create safe and nurturing environments

Helena, MT – Research demonstrates that for children to thrive, they require safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. That’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ specialty, and it’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is entrusting the national nonprofit organization’s Montana Coalition with a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant.

“I am thrilled. I am shaky with excitement, and I cannot wait to get started on this work,” Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Executive Director Brie Oliver said after being surprised with the grant Monday, Aug. 14 at BCBSMT’s Helena headquarters. “I know how much women in Montana agree this is a needed project.”

 

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies aims to improve the health, safety and well-being of Montana families by supporting mothers and babies, ages 0 to 3. With the money from the grant, organizers intend to partner with three communities to better link parents of new infants to supportive community resources to help more children live in safe and nurturing environments. In each of those three communities, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies will partner with local organizations to build a network of support for these new families, which evidence supports reduces the likelihood of abuse and neglect. These efforts by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies fall in line with HKHF goals.

 

“Blue Cross and Blue Shield (of Montana) is a huge partner in this for us,” Oliver added. “The fact that they are touching so many lives with health care and their concern for prevention is huge, and we’re just thrilled to go with them on this journey.”

 

HKHF is a signature program of BCBSMT and part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in the five following areas: nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, supporting safe environments, and suicide prevention. The $50,000 HKHF grant is one of four BCBSMT awards each year.

 

“Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is an incredible organization that provides critical support systems in our communities,” said John Doran, Divisional Vice President of External Affairs and Chief of Staff at BCBSMT. “They provide the stable foundation that young mothers and their babies need to live a healthier, happier life.”

 

Officials with Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies say the grant will round out the organization’s work that focuses on prevention of childhood maltreatment and parental substance abuse by improving the screening and treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, while connecting new parents to community and support resources.

 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSMT is the largest and longest-standing statewide, customer-owned health insurer and full-service health benefits administrator in Montana. BCBSMT believes that Montana consumers and employers deserve the best of both worlds — access to quality, cost-effective health care and superior customer service from a company that focuses solely on members. BCBSMT has provided high-quality health insurance plans and administrative services to Montanans for nearly 77 years. BCBSMT is committed to ensuring its members — no matter where they are on the health spectrum — achieve maximum health. BCBSMT’s mission is to stand with its members in sickness and in health. BCBSMT’s website is www.bcbsmt.com.

 

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition, Inc. (HMHB) was founded in 1984 by a pediatrician and a group of health professionals. It was based on the national Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies model and has worked for over 30 years to improve maternal and child health in Montana. Throughout the years, HMHB has developed allied organizations such as the Montana Children’s Alliance, The Montana Council for Maternal and Child Health, and more recently the Montana Early Childhood Coalition. HMHB is widely known throughout Montana as the advocacy voice for mothers and infants. HMHB was created to be the leading state-wide non-profit to improve pregnancy and early childhood outcomes and it remains in that role, as the sole non-profit with a zero (includes pregnancy) to three focus in Montana. HMHB’s website is hmhb-mt.org.

Great Falls Tribune: Hospitals give $80,000 to shaken baby prevention program

By advocacy, Archives, Parenting, Published Work
Written by Amy Beth Hanson

HELENA (AP) – Hospitals around the state are donating more than $80,000 to Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies so the organization can continue an education program aimed at preventing shaken baby injuries and deaths after a state board decided not to renew its funding.

Clementine Lindley, the vice chair of the Montana Children’s Trust Fund board, said board members voted unanimously in June not to renew the contract with Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies to implement the Period of PURPLE Crying education program. The goal of the program is to educate parents and caregivers about an infant’s crying, ways to avoid frustration and the dangers of shaking a baby.

Lindley said the board has decided to see if the work can be improved under another program before awarding the funding.

“PURPLE is one of the best evidence-based programs in America,” said Judy Edwards, executive director of Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition. She noted the Department of Public Health and Human Services was part of the decision to use the program.

There were several issues with the grant application, Lindley said, including failing to achieve promised outcomes and not proposing a sustainability plan.

Jen Shaw, program manager for Healthy Mothers Heathy Babies, said Thursday the program went from reaching over 60 percent of the hospital births in Montana to over 90 percent after adding three major hospitals to its network. The organization did propose a sustainability plan, which included continued funding from the Montana Children’s Trust Fund along with fundraising and pursuing other grants, Shaw said.

“We want to have a positive relationship with the Children’s Trust Fund” and continue working to help children, Shaw said. “We’ve been trying to keep that the focus.”

State law requires there to be an education program to prevent shaken baby syndrome. The trust fund is required to support child abuse and neglect prevention programs.

DPHHS will meet the law’s education requirements while a new program is being considered, agency spokesman Jon Ebelt said.

Meanwhile, Healthy Mothers Heathy Babies will continue its work with the help of $10,000 donations from hospitals in Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Kalispell along with both hospitals in Billings and both in Missoula. The donation from St. Peter’s Hospital was made to the organization Thursday morning in Helena.

Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies, The Montana Coalition works with 23 hospitals to provide PURPLE education, Shaw said. The program uses the letters of the word PURPLE to inform families that the “peak” of a baby’s crying is around the second month, it can be “unexpected,” it “resists” soothing, a baby can look like they’re in “pain,” the crying can be “long-lasting” and that babies may cry more in the afternoon and “evening.”

Edwards said she first contacted St. Peter’s Hospital President and CEO Nate Olson about Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies’ loss of funding. He said he emailed other hospitals and they soon had pledged $80,000 to help fund the program.

“The children of our community are too important to sit back and allow these preventable tragedies to continue to happen,” Olson said in a statement.

Edwards said she’s not aware of any hospitals that have been contacted by the state about a change in providers for the shaken baby education program.