Pregnancy and the birth of your child is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times in your life.
Except when it’s not.
For a large number of women, it can be a difficult time filled with stress, confusion, anxiety and depression.
That’s why the Crisis Nursery in Champaign offers the Beyond Blue program.
Funded by the Champaign County Board of Mental Health, the Beyond Blue program started in 2008 to provide free services to mothers living in Champaign-Urbana and the outlying communities who are identified as “at risk” for perinatal or postpartum depression.
(Perinatal refers to a time, usually a number of weeks, immediately before and after birth. Postpartum refers to the period after childbirth.)
Ann Ambrose, a Family Specialist at Crisis Nursery, said the program provides resources and services for any mother in Champaign County who is experiencing perinatal or postpartum depression and who is expecting or has a child who is less than one year of age.
“The program provides a comprehensive treatment plan not available anywhere else, and this is helpful to a diverse group of mothers,” Ambrose said.
About 1 in 10 women are affected by perinatal depression, regardless of her race, age, or income level, according to the Crisis Nursery’s website.
Perinatal depression is often confused with the “baby blues” because many of the symptoms are the same. However, symptoms of perinatal depression are felt more strongly and last longer than that of the roughly two-week period of the baby blues. Some signs of perinatal depression are:
• persistent feelings of sadness
• irritability and anxiety
• uncontrollable crying
• fear of being an incompetent mother
• feelings of loneliness
• thoughts of harming the baby
• thoughts of death or suicide
If any of these symptoms linger or get worse, it is important for a woman to contact her doctor or talk to someone else.
Ambrose said the Crisis Nursery is here to assist any mom in the area who reaches out for help.
Originally, the Beyond Blue program was designed to help rural mothers but it has expanded to serve the entire county.
In addition, there is no income eligibility requirement. Although mothers who are single or are experiencing financial distress are more at risk for perinatal depression, this is not the description of all mothers in the program, Ambrose said.
The Beyond Blue program is designed with five components to help mothers cope with perinatal and postpartum depression.
Parent/Child Interaction Groups
These groups meet for six weekly sessions for one hour. Ambrose said this offers parents a chance to interact with their infant without the distractions of home and while meeting other parents with children in their child’s age range. These groups are held at Crisis Nursery and various locations in rural parts of the county.
Home Visiting Services
This allows for individualized support and counseling where the family is most comfortable. These visits often include Ages and Stages Screenings to ensure their children’s development is progressing appropriately. This is also a time to assist families with links to additional community resources.
Crisis Nursery provides Crisis Care to any family with a child age six and below, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our Beyond Blue families often receive priority for this care due to the likelihood of parental stress in the home.
Mom Support Groups
This allows for mothers to interact with each other, share their experiences, and learn from one another. On-site childcare is provided during these groups, so the whole family receives a break. These groups are held at Crisis Nursery and in various locations in the rural areas.
The Crisis Nursery provides respite hours, which are essentially pre-scheduled time for mothers to practice self-care so that they are better able to meet the needs of their babies. These hours are often earned by attending Parent/Child Interaction groups and support groups, but are also offered based on need and with a specific goal in mind.
For more information about the Beyond Blue program, contact Ann Ambrose at (217) 337-2730 or go to the Crisis Nursery website.
To learn more about perinatal and postpartum depression, click here.