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Local organizations provide additional support to families through pregnancy, postpartum

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News from Eristina Moore, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center

POLSON — Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Luke’s Community Hospital recently partnered with Helping Hands to educate new mothers and families on postpartum mood disorders by providing educational materials and a $25 incentive when mothers attend their postpartum check. 

Helping Hands is a local non-profit organization that serves the community’s most vulnerable in their time of emergent need and the incentives are funded through their Zero to Five Flathead Reservation & Lake County grant project. “We started on Valentine’s Day because we wanted to show love to our community’s growing families,” said Jennifer Rolfsness, Helping Hands Executive Director. Pregnancy and postpartum are a time full of changes for a growing family. One in five women will experience a mood disorder up to one year after delivering a baby, and partners are also at risk. Through the Helping Hands incentive, families are given a card at the newborn check that educates them about postpartum mood disorders. When they return the card to the OB provider at the postpartum check, they receive a $25 gift card. This incentivizes patients to learn about postpartum mood disorders and opens the door for conversations with OB providers. “Families will bring their baby to well-child checks but forget that it is also important to care for themselves and follow up 6-8 weeks after delivery. Educating families empowers them to know what symptoms to watch for and discuss with their doctors,” said Lisa Grainey, Providence RN Care Manager and Helping Hands Project Manager. “So far, the new moms and families that have received education on postpartum mood disorders and the incentive have been receptive and thankful,” adds Tommie Linsebigler, St. Luke’s Case Manager.

Area hospitals are working with The Meadowlark Initiative®, (a program supported through a partnership between the Montana Healthcare Foundation and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services), to screen all patients for mood disorders and provide timely treatment when needed. By screening all patients for mood disorders, health care providers can better understand if common pregnancy symptoms like decreased energy and appetite changes indicate something more serious. Other symptoms of mood disorders – like constant worry, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, or thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or your baby – can be difficult for women to experience and ask for help with. 

Our community is working to make it the standard of care to look for, discuss, and provide tools to families to ease their way on the adventure of parenthood. Additionally, by screening for mood disorders throughout pregnancy and postpartum, we can evaluate if treatment options are helping or if we need to try a different approach. Treatment for mood disorders can include connecting with others, exercise, sleep, diet, yoga, meditation, or counseling. Both hospitals have additional staff to assist with connecting to community resources and support. 


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