There are many healthcare providers and survivors who want to do something to help other women with postpartum depression and ask me about starting or assisting in creating postpartum depression and anxiety support groups. I thought I’d reach out to some really smart women I know who could share tips on starting postpartum depression support groups — How can you get a group going, even if it’s just a handful of people? What should you do to keep it going?

Meeka Centimano, founder of the Postpartum Resource Center of Kansas

Two words come to mind in developing a support group that reaches women with postpartum depression who need it — “collaboration” and “key relationships”. Coming to a support group is a courageous and scary thing in and of itself — coming to a support group looking to a peer leader you know nothing about is an even bigger risk during such a vulnerable time. Don’t misunderstand me, many women come to our groups that know not ONE thing about us, but they often arrive with a bit more fortitude because someone in their doctor’s office said we would be good at helping them. For some it is a physician we know well, a children’s minister that we go to worship with who interacts with young families on a regular basis. It may be a friend that came to our group years ago. It may be the therapist helping perinatal moms that you met at a school event several years ago and have befriended.

The nuts and bolts of leading the actual group are a walk in the park in my estimation. Staying aware of all the people in your life that have access to perinatal moms, leveraging those relationships and fostering trust is the more challenging part, but goes a long way in building a great and sustainable support network. Keep in mind that it is a SLOW and painful process. Also remember that success is not measured in NUMBERS or attendance records. Sometimes the one mom that comes to your group is the mom with postpartum depression that needed to be there alone that week. She needed some intimacy and some one-on-one time. Keep moving ahead — it takes time but the success will come.

Thanks Meeka! Watch for part 2 on how to create and sustain postpartum depression support tomorrow …