IU Health Methodist Hospital offers support group for new moms amid pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS – While the pandemic has been very difficult for people, one group is in particular has struggled.

New moms have not been able to rely on loved ones and friends for help and guidance nor have they had a moment’s rest without baby. Add in anxiety and depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Allyson Spille had her daughter before the pandemic began. Her anxiety increased when her husband, who is a firefighter, started responding to people who were showing COVID symptoms. She was concerned he would spread the virus at home. Eventually, her husband separated and voluntarily quarantined himself.

“The first three weeks or so of April, I raised Hannah on my own,” she told CBS4. “So, that was very difficult and isolating in itself. It’s not like–of course–they always say first-time-mom, there might be these lonely feelings, but I had no one else here with me.”

Spille’s OBGYN suggested joining a support group. She called Tracey McInnes, who is the perinatal mood disorder program coordinator at IU Health Methodist Hospital.

“One in five women deal with one of the perinatal mood disorders. One in ten dads are as well,” McInnes explained. “The number of referrals, in general, have gone up exponentially.”

McInnes ran an in-person support group prior to the pandemic. When COVID hit, she had to adjust. She and the new mothers met virtually, instead. Each session, about eight or ten parents meet online. They each take turns, sharing their concerns.

“What’s next? How long is this going to last?” McInnes asked. “These women are exhausted. There has been some anger. There has been some rage.”

Spille found her outlet right away. After a short screening, she met with the virtual group that night.

“Just hearing the other women were feeling the exact same way you were,” she said. “Instantly, as soon as I got off the call, I called my mom and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that was so good!’ For the first time I felt like I had a smile on my face. I kind of felt rejuvenated.”

Spille said some of the other moms remained anonymous. They were more comfortable sharing their stories without anyone seeing their faces, but rather just their names. For her, the virtual option was more convenient. She didn’t have to coordinate childcare or adjust her work schedule, nor did she have to drive nearly an hour to Methodist.

“I feel like I am on my way to recovering,” she shared. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

McInnes plans to keep the support group virtual. She, too, believes it has been a better and easier option for new parents.

“I’ve had nurses, front-line workers, pediatricians in my group,” she said.

McInnes is now reaching out other new moms. She says if anyone is struggling, she does require a referral and a short screening process but will otherwise welcome them to the group.

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