Television shows, advertising and movies often portray pregnancy and childbirth as a very beautiful, storybook-like time in a woman’s life. In those films, picture-perfect couples welcome their new bundle of joy into the family and live happily ever.

But new moms quickly find reality isn’t quite as fanciful.

Babies aren’t always cooing sweetly in their mother’s arms. They come with colic, diaper rash, acid reflux and other worrisome health issues. New mothers face added stress in simply figuring out how to take care of a new baby and maintaining their pre-baby roles at home or at work. During and after pregnancy, women also deal with their own health concerns, such as recovering from surgeries, hormonal changes, elevated blood pressure and gestational diabetes.

To help mothers cope with stress and postpartum depression, Novant Health is offering a new psychotherapy group for new and expectant mothers. The psychotherapy group meets weekly in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is open to mothers from pregnancy up to one year postpartum.

“The group gives them a chance for new mothers to see that they are not alone and that there are other women who share the same feelings,” said Michele Shadden, a licensed clinical social worker who facilitates the group at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center . “Sometimes just knowing their feelings are normal is comforting enough to relieve doubts and thoughts of inadequacy.”

Shadden started the group in August when caregivers recognized that family support and even medical care may not be enough.

“New mothers worry because they may not be confident in their mothering skills,” Shadden said. “They keep telling themselves that this is supposed to be the best time in their lives but wonder why it doesn’t feel that way in reality. In the group, they hear other women sharing similar feelings, and this alone brings great relief.” 

Mothers may be referred by their OB-GYN or care provider if the doctor sees signs of depression or anxiety. Patients are treated by the care provider and are prescribed to the group as part of their treatment. Women may also self-refer.

“It’s a multi-disciplined care approach,” Shadden said. “Family support is very important as spouses, grandparents and partners can sometimes feel they can’t fix the new mom’s depressed and overwhelmed feelings themselves. Medical care, counseling and the group provide the new mom with coping skills that benefit the entire family.”

During the sessions, mothers learn coping mechanisms, tips to manage stress such as breathing techniques, and can ask other participants for support and help.

The group meets once a week and will open new sessions as attendance grows. The current group meets on Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. at the Novant Health Forsyth Behavioral Health offices at 175 Kimel Park Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Most insurances cover the group sessions. The program also accepts Medicaid patients who live in Forsyth, Stokes, Davie and Rockingham counties. For more information, call 336-718-3550 .

With the demands of juggling work and family, it can be difficult to find time to take care of yourself. Download our women’s health guide today.