Bloomington woman behind postpartum support group: learn the signs

New postpartum depression drug
New postpartum depression drug
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 1:59 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Bloomington-area mom Nicki Petersen wanted to create a space for moms suffering from postpartum anxiety and depression after going through it herself.

“I’m just a mom with a support group,” she said. For her day job, she works as a lab technician in a pediatric office, but she’s gone through advocacy training for postpartum parents and has done plenty of research on her own.

The group, Thriving to Surviving, seeks to connect those parents and help them learn they are not alone. Petersen said you can watch the weight come off their shoulders as the new moms realize they aren’t alone. Over time, the group helps them learn to overcome their postpartum anxiety and depression.

Those disorders have entered the national conversation following the death of three children in Massachusetts. Their mother, 32-year-old Lindsey Clancy, is accused of killing them possibly due to postpartum psychosis. The rare condition only impacts .1 to .2% of births.

Postpartum depression is far more common, occurring in 1 in 8 births, and can impact the ability of the mom to bond with her child.

Often what stops postpartum mothers from seeking treatment is feelings of guilt and shame, Petersen said. The anxiety and depression manifest into thoughts of being a bad parent and feeling like they are the only ones suffering from this condition.

“The lightbulbs go off when they say ‘oh I’m not the only one,’” she said. “I get to watch that and see as they go from really struggling to see it’s not really their fault and getting the treatment they need.”

Petersen said she wants the public to understand the frustrations, depression, anxiety and even psychosis felt by the mother are not indicators of their true thoughts. Especially in cases of psychosis, the person affected is unaware their delusions and hallucinations are irrational.

There are signs to look out for in cases of postpartum psychosis. The condition waxes and wanes, meaning sometimes the person may seem perfectly fine one moment and not the next. Petersen said it may be clear something is off with a person, they may be rambling incoherently or saying things that don’t make sense.

In that case, it becomes a medical emergency. If someone is experiencing psychosis symptoms, she recommends calling 9-1-1 and getting the mother medical help as soon as possible.

You can watch the full interview with Nicki Petersen below or on our streaming show 25News Now.