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6/13/11 Important Research Study on Postpartum Depression & Anxiety with Berkshire Mothers


Barriers to Care Research Study

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

10am – 12pm


To participate contact: research@motherwoman.org

The Berkshire County Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalition, a newly formed county-wide coalition with members from the Brien Center, Clinical and Support Options, ServiceNet, Healthy Families of Berkshire County, GROW, Berkshire Children and Families and many other community organizations, is working in conjunction with MotherWoman, a regional non-profit, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School at Worcester to bring an important opportunity to our region.  The Barriers to Care Research Study is an opportunity for mothers to share their experiences in accessing care while experiencing perinatal emotional complications such as depression, anxiety, OCD and other intense emotional experiences. The Berkshire County Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalition is committed to creating a comprehensive safety net for mothers experiencing perinatal emotional complications in Berkshire County.

Perinatal emotional complications may include depression, anxiety, feelings of overwhelm, disconnection from baby, lack of interest in life, not being able to stop crying and other adjustment issues.  Mothers who are in severe crisis may not be able to handle the normal stresses of life and may need professional care and treatment. All mothers who experience even minor symptoms deserve education, support and access to appropriate care so that they can recover their stability. 

Postpartum Depression impacts 1 in 8 mothers and can have serious consequences for the mother and her children.  1 in 2 mothers living in poverty may experience perinatal emotional complications.  Postpartum Depression is the #1 birth-related complication for mothers.  In the very rare and worst cases of postpartum mood disorders, postpartum psychosis, mothers may harm themselves or their children.  Most mothers who receive education, early intervention and appropriate care and support can expect to recover quickly.  Without early care and identification, mothers’ conditions may worsen and have negative impact on herself and her family. 

Sarah DiFazio, a mother from Dalton who experienced significant postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/A), “I am a strong advocate who had to work very hard to get the help I needed while struggling with postpartum depression and I am very scared for women who do not have these same advocacy skills.  I am grateful that we will now have an opportunity to share our experiences and hopefully, help direct changes in Berkshire County.”

Luci Leonard, of Community Health Programs and a member of the Coalition says, “Perinatal Emotional health has been a critical issue for a very long time. Mothers in postpartum crisis unfortunately often fall through the cracks even though there is excellent care in this county for them.  We are working on changing that.”

Dr. Byatt conducted a similar study with psychiatrists in Worcester County asking them their perspectives on what the barriers to care are for women faced with perinatal emotional complications.  She is now speaking directly with mothers to understand their perspective. Her team of researchers will have conducted three groups in each of the following counties: Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire.  There will be a fourth focus group convened in the fall to discuss possible intervention strategies. 

Liz Friedman, Program Director of MotherWoman says, “ This is an incredible opportunity for mothers to share their perspectives of their own experience.  Many postpartum mothers have been thru hell to try to get help while in the worst crisis of their lives.  We at the Coalition hope that thru mothers sharing their perspectives and experiences we will be able to identify key strategies that can really make a change in access to care.”

Lead Investigator, Dr. Nancy Byatt received the University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Award to conduct this important research. Dr. Nancy Byatt is a psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UMass Medical School at Worcester. She is partnering with MotherWoman in this current study. 

MotherWoman has been leading the way in creating coalitions focused on perinatal emotional health for mothers throughout the Western part of the state. The Berkshire County Coalition is part of the Western Massachusetts Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalition Network initiated by the Amherst-based organization, MotherWoman. Coalitions currently exist in Hampshire and Franklin Counties and are beginning in Hampden, Worcester and Berkshire Counties.

MotherWoman, is committed to ensuring that ALL mothers in the Western part of the state have information and education, access to resources and proper care when faced with postpartum emotional complications.

For more information on the Barriers to Care Study and the work of the Coalition:

Contact Liz Friedman, Program Director, MotherWoman, Inc.; Founder of the Postpartum Support Initiative


For more information about MotherWoman visit us at motherwoman.org