When I found out the Postpartum Support International (PSI) Conference was being held in MI this year, come heck or high water, I was going to find a way to get there. And I did. With my 10-mo.-old daughter in tow, I headed to Plymouth at 5 AM on Friday, June 26 for two days of learning, friendship and amazing food. Everyone kept commenting on how well-behaved my baby was, but imagine being surrounded by hundreds of baby-loving therapists and other providers who have dedicated their careers to serving new parents. Yes, it was baby and momma heaven!
Living in a small city like Muskegon, it’s easy feel a sense of hopelessness around our birthing options. We have a hospital monopoly with religious restrictions that limit some women’s reproductive health choices. Both Hackley and North Ottawa Community Hospital (NOCH) have bans on VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesareans. Lack of resources and insurance reimbursement limit the options of many families.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Planting seeds of hope” and I have to say that I feel renewed gratitude for all West Michigan has to offer childbearing women. I first had this feeling in a workshop on skin-to-skin after cesarean. As workshop participants shared strategies to implement this at their local hospitals, I thought, “Really? This is standard practice at my area hospitals.” I’m sure there is room for improvement, but this is one battle I haven’t had to fight.
One of the keynotes and a break-out session I attended were presented by the Mother Baby partial hospitalization program at Pine Rest. Thanks to pioneers like Nancy Roberts, who received a standing ovation when accepting the Ilyene Barsky Memorial Award for outstanding PSI coordinator, West Michigan stands out as leaders in collaboration for developing resources for postpartum depression and anxiety disorders! Our local Lakeshore Perinatal Mood Disorders Coalition (LPMDC) has helped to create support groups at Hackley Community Care, NOCH and in Zeeland, as well as a list of trained providers.
Thank you PSI and the hardworking LPMDC members for providing hope and healing to so many!