Support is now just a text away for new parents experiencing postpartum depression or other perinatal mood disorders. Eugene Pediatric Associates has partnered with WellMama to launch a text support program that is accessible 24/7.

Parents needing help can text the word “Support” to 541-525-0495.

Prevalence of perinatal mood disorders

It’s estimated that 1 in 4 new mothers in Oregon struggles with postpartum depression or other mood disorders and approximately 1 in 10 partners are also affected. Perinatal (pregnancy and postpartum) mood and anxiety disorders can have long-lasting effects on the health and safety of babies.

 When Bonnie Root gave birth to her first child, she experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. But at the time, she didn’t know what it was, or how to get help.

“I didn’t know what I was feeling; I just knew that it was really big and intense, and I shouldn’t feel that way because I needed to be there for my baby,” Bonnie says. “I needed to be happy and put on a pretty face. So, I suffered for over a year.”

As a registered nurse and an international board-certified lactation consultant at Eugene Pediatric Associates, Bonnie is part of the care team that checks in with new moms and helps screen them for perinatal mood disorders.

“I think the biggest thing that I see in talking with moms who are experiencing any kind of baby blues, postpartum depression, or even just struggling as a new mom, is that it’s very hard for them to ask for help. It’s hard for them to say, I’m not doing well,” says Jordan Bradshaw, a case manager with Eugene Pediatric Associates.

Helping parents access help

WellMama is a local nonprofit organization that helps moms and dads recover from perinatal mood disorders through its support groups and offers a Warm Line where parents needing help call and leave a message for a WellMama volunteer to call back. Last year, the organization recognized the need for new ways to reach younger parents—a demographic that is at higher risk for experiencing perinatal mood disorders. The organization explored other avenues to offer help and launched its text support program with financial support from Eugene Pediatrics and Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation.

“Texting one word to a phone number and knowing that someone is on the other side who’s been through a similar situation, who can provide one-on-one support, is just so important to us,” says WellMama Executive Director Emily Little.

The text program offers many benefits, including:

  • More accessibility. Parents can text 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and receive a response within 1-4 hours, on average.
  • Accommodating. People struggling with social anxiety have another option to receive support without engaging face-to-face or verbally talking with someone they do not know, which can be a barrier to accessing WellMama’s support groups or calling the Warm Line.
  • Impactful. The new system will allow for improved follow up, so WellMama can stay connected with parents throughout their recovery.
  • Personalized. WellMama is recruiting and training peer support volunteers, especially from underrepresented groups, to better match parents with a peer support volunteer who understands their unique situation.

At Eugene Pediatrics, new moms are screened for postpartum depression and other mood disorders through questionnaires at each of their baby’s well checkups. They also receive a packet with information about the practice’s two caseworkers, resources in the community, and a monthly list of WellMama support groups. For providers at Eugene Pediatrics and throughout the community, the text program is one more avenue of support to offer parents who need it.

“We screen every mom for perinatal mood disorders at every visit for the first year after she has a baby. If we find someone who is depressed, we can support them with the people that we have here, in our clinic, but we can also warm-hand them off to WellMama through this new text connection technology, which is more in keeping with today’s modern mom,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.

“I want to help other families the way I could have been helped, without them feeling the guilt and shame and confusion that I did,” Bonnie says. “I want parents to know this is normal, you’re OK, we can help you, and they don’t have to suffer.”

WellMama’s text support program is now available to parents. If you need help, text the word “Support” to 541-525-0495.