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Minnesota hospital program helps with postpartum depression

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Motherhood can dramatically change a woman's life. It's estimated about 15 percent of new moms may be struggling with depression and anxiety. A Minnesota hospital is opening a new clinic to reach out to new mothers.

It's one of the first postpartum depression programs of its kind in the country. It allows new mothers and their babies to stay together as well as their therapists to see how they're bonding and how they can help.   
 
Emily Beugen always dreamed of having children, but when she had her daughter five years ago, it was much different than what she had in mind.

"I was just feeling a lot of pressure as a mother to do everything perfectly," she admitted. "Things started to feel different and worse and started to get a feeling that I didn't want to be around her."

Emily was checked into the psychiatric clinic to get treatment.

"I felt like a failure, a big failure," she said.

Emily's story is so common, Minnesota's Hennepin County Medical Center has created the mother-baby program.

"We are very excited. This has been years in the making," said Dr. Helen Kim. "We're really excited to open our doors and help some families."

Mothers in the program are admitted to an outpatient program where they spend five hours a day for three weeks getting treatment with their children. There's even a nursery that will soon be full of cribs so that mothers can bring their babies along while participating in group sessions that allow mothers to speak with other women who are experiencing the same struggles.

"I was surrounded by people who had no idea what to do, and so to have a place like this to go where they can just bring you inside and give you a hug and tell you everything is going to be OK [is great]," Beugen said.

There is also an observation room that allows a therapist the ability to watch how a mother and baby interact through mirrors.

"It's important for us to see but it's also important for us to show a mother or caregiver cues she may be misinterpreting from her baby or child," Kim explained.

The goal of the program is prevention, and Kim said the therapists hope to address symptoms early on before the depression turns severe.

"Really, the symptoms began very early and the writing was on the wall well before a crisis evolved," Kim said of post-partum depression. "Had we intervened much earlier, we would have prevented a lot of suffering."

The center hopes to target those with moderate to severe symptoms out of the gate, and Beugen urges mothers who are struggling to take part.

"Give them hope that it's going to be OK and the clouds  will pass," she said. "Just give them support."

The center includes observation rooms that allow the therapist to watch the mothers and their babies as they interact.

With one in eight new mom's suffering from depression, the whole idea is to treat it right away before the symptoms worsen.

Information provided by myfoxtwincities.com

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