A tired mom leans back on the couch, holding her head in one hand while her baby boy on her lap.

A Future Nurse Searches for Postpartum Depression Support for Moms in Vancouver, WA

Ever stare into your newborn’s eyes, awash in love, yet feel a dark undertow threatening to pull you under? Tammy knows that feeling all too well. It’s called Postpartum Depression.

Her journey to motherhood wasn’t the picture-perfect Instagram feed. The postpartum depression, left her feeling isolated, lost and alone. Her experience was over 20 years ago, and she never forgot how dark that time was.

This isn’t just another statistics-laden article about postpartum depression. This is a nursing student’s paper from Clark College who is passionate about finding Postpartum Depression resources for Vancouver, WA. She wrote this paper so other moms wouldn’t feel alone like she did and can try to find help. She unearthed local Postpartum depression resources in Vancouver area so she could bring healing to herself and help other moms.


Author, Tammy J. Thomas-Anderson | Department of Nursing | Clark College

What Postpartum Depression was like 20 years ago

This paper explores the experiences of women facing postpartum depression, and their impact on families. This topic is important to me on a personal level. I experienced a wonderful pregnancy, morning sickness and all. Being a mommy was the one thing I wanted most in life. I knew it was not going to be all roses and good times. I was ready to have sleepless nights and try to deal with all the things a new baby brings. What I was not ready for was the severe postpartum depression I experienced.

Expecting a brief dip, a few “baby blues” days as hormones calmed. I had no idea it could spiral far worse. Feeling overwhelmed, guilty, like a terrible mom, I couldn’t understand my emotions or control my reactions. I felt out of control for no reason and did not know how to recognize the signs of postpartum depression.

The fog of denial clung to me like a blanket. Sharing my struggles felt impossible, even talking about needing help. My silence wasn’t just my burden; it weighed heavily on my loved ones too. On the other hand, I knew they felt helpless, unsure how to navigate this postpartum depression alongside me. The feeling of helplessness clawed at me, leaving me adrift with no map to guide me. And then, a lifeline. Finally, mom, a nurse, whispered the possibility of postpartum depression and urged a call to my OB/GYN. My own fascination with maternal healthcare fueled a new hope. I wanted to see what community resources that could help the communication gaps between moms and families facing this challenging time.

While a new baby steals the spotlight with unbridled joy, the mother’s body embarks on a silent metamorphosis after birth. Beneath the surface, there are many fluctuations going on inside, mentally, emotionally, and hormonally, which people are often not aware of, including the mother. One day, she might beam with joy as she dotes on her family, while the next finds her tears flowing for reasons even she can’t grasp.

Tired and anxious mom sitting on a couch holding her baby

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is defined as, “a mood disorder characterized by severe depression that occurs within the first 6 to 12 months postpartum…affects the woman, her partner, and other children within the family unit” (Durham & Chapman, 2019). Some signs of postpartum depression are the mother is not able to care for herself or the baby, has feelings of anxiety, fear, worthlessness, and may not even feel a connection to her baby. A distraught mother can have devastating effects for a woman and her family if not recognized and treated. So, how do families know they might need help, what to do or how to get help? Luckily, a wealth of resources awaits them found online. From birthing centers to midwives and doulas offering their services to help women and families with everything from family planning, throughout pregnancy and after, the postpartum period.  

Upon looking for resources in the Vancouver, Washington area regarding postpartum care, I found research that referred to mothers needing help with factors that may lead to postpartum depression.  A study by Anokey et al. (2018), identified stressing factors such as prenatal anxiety, worry about childcare for their other children, and marital conflicts are precursors leading to postpartum depression. The article also stated how postpartum depression affects “… approximately 10-15% of adult mothers yearly with depressive symptoms lasting more than 6 months among 25-50% of those affected” (Anokey et al., 2018). That is a vast percentage of women and family members affected by postpartum depression.  

There are psychosocial, psychotherapy, and medications available to women with postpartum depression.  With stigmas surrounding therapy and taking medications, it may be hard for women to admit they need help or seek the guidance they need. In the article, Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression: An Umbrella Review, it discussed the research that has been done over 20 years regarding postpartum depression and the need to understand the implications this disorder has for a woman and her child. There is an undeniable need for better interventions and screenings tools to help prevent the risk of postpartum depression and possible short and long-term implications this can have on a mother, child, and family. The authors of this article stated it best when they said, “Systematic and adequate attention to postpartum depression and its risk factors can bolster maternal-child outcomes and ensure more opportunities for women and children to thrive” (Hutchens & Kearney, 2020).

My findings for support for moms in Vancouver, WA

In my endeavors to find available resources, I called a few places I found online with two of them returning my call, PeaceHealth Family Birth Center and Baby Nest Birth Services.  Both places were only able to do a phone interview, and the information they provided proved helpful in discovering the available assistance out there for women and their families. 

Happy new mom holding her newborn baby while talking to a doula

J. Baily, (personal communication, February 16, 2022), a nurse with PeaceHealth Family Birth Center in Vancouver, took some time to discuss the postpartum services provided within their facility. With antenatal support and working with the moms-to-be during labor, they get to know the women and their families and develop an idea for how they may handle the stress of a new baby. Resources like:

  • Workbooks on postpartum depression and adjustment
  • Lactation guidance
  • Mental health services information
  • Coping strategies for newborn stress

are readily given to the expecting mom and family. Moms also watch “The Period of Purple Cry” video. They even offer an optional Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale questionnaire 12-16 hours after birth to screen for potential needs and help identify families who might benefit from further support. To seamlessly bridge the gap between hospital and home, the clinic seamlessly integrates social and mental health services into its program. Furthermore, follow-up appointments with an obstetrician or midwife guarantee continued care long after discharge, ensuring ongoing monitoring and support for both mother and baby.

Sherilee Peters, the owner of Baby Nest Birth Services, isn’t just a businesswoman; she’s a passionate advocate for comprehensive postpartum support. I learned this firsthand when she squeezed in a call with me – even while on her way to deliver placenta capsules! (Talk about dedication!)

As she explained, Baby Nest offers a full spectrum of services, from birth and postpartum doulas to placenta encapsulation and childbirth education classes. Each member of their team, certified doulas woven together by their own distinct experiences, dedicates themselves to crafting bespoke care for every woman and family they walk alongside.

Sherilee emphasized the importance of education and support, especially when it comes to navigating those sometimes-difficult conversations with family members about prenatal and postpartum needs. Whether it’s sleep deprivation, mental health concerns like postpartum depression, or simply adjusting to life with a newborn, having a doula on your side can be invaluable.

What truly struck me about S. Peters was her genuine compassion and commitment to supporting the entire family. Regardless of cultural background or specific needs, she and her doula team are there to offer guidance, resources, and a helping hand – whatever that may mean for each individual family.

During my research to find out what is available in Vancouver, I was able to find many birthing centers, midwifery, and doula services. They offer a variety of information, education, and personal services from family planning to postpartum care.

Both the people I spoke with and the way they incorporate cultural considerations into all their care and services pleasantly surprised me. Knowing that people in the U.S. come from many different cultures and have varying cultural beliefs when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum is crucial as a healthcare professional. One barrier I was able to identify was not being able to talk to some of the places I called and not receiving a call back.

new mom texting her vancouver wa postpartum doula

What are the blocks for moms to get care and services for PPD?

The main barrier I found is surrounding the current pandemic. Many in-person services were shut down due to the pandemic. Postpartum support is crucial, yet birthing centers lack family presence, support groups, and home visits, hindering women’s access to help.

The two people I spoke with were very clear that there was a feeling of helplessness on their part as professionals and an increase in the feeling of isolation and being alone for new mothers. These moms are who may benefit from just getting out of the house and are not able to. Both people I spoke with felt burdened by the inability to offer in-person services. One way they are trying to tackle this barrier is by offering virtual services, either online or via phone. Both were very hopeful that in-person services like social group meeting would be back up and running soon.  

I did not find any additional needs during my research related to postpartum depression.  I think the gaps in available resources are as I stated above which is not being able to talk to someone when I called and being isolated due to the pandemic. For me, I know I would be easily discouraged if I could not talk or see someone when reaching out for help. The role of nurses is crucial in guiding mothers through the challenges of having a newborn. Having information and services available to women and families is an important intervention when it comes to postpartum depression.

Overall, I found that there are available resources in the Vancouver area for postpartum care. It is essential to increase awareness and education for postpartum depression among the healthcare community and prospective new moms.  Unfortunately, as with many mental health disorders, this takes time.  I am optimistic by what I have read in my research and the conversations I had with the healthcare professionals from PeaceHealth Birth Center and Baby Nest Birth Services.  It is evident that postpartum depression is becoming a larger and more normal conversation within healthcare services surrounding pregnancy and postpartum care.”


Tammy’s story is a powerful testament to the strength and resilience that mothers possess. It’s also a stark reminder that the journey through postpartum doesn’t always follow the glossy Instagram feed. For many, it’s a voyage through uncharted waters, rife with unseen currents and occasional storms. But there’s a beacon of hope: a map of resources and support waiting to be discovered.

Here are some concrete steps you can take to navigate the postpartum journey in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR:

Seek Professional Support:

  • Postpartum Doulas: These experienced professionals offer practical and emotional support during the early weeks and months. They can help with newborn care, breastfeeding, household tasks, and simply being a listening ear. Consider the services we provide here at Baby Nest Birth Services: https://babynestbirth.com/ or search online for doulas in your area.
  • Therapists: Don’t underestimate the power of talking to a professional. Many therapists specialize in postpartum mental health and can provide invaluable guidance and support. Explore resources here or reach out to your healthcare provider for recommendations.

Connect with Other Mothers

Sharing your experiences with other mothers can be incredibly validating and helpful. Join a local moms group, attend postpartum support meetings, or connect online through forums or social media groups. Check Hike It Baby and ICAN Cesarean for parent support groups.

Utilize Healthcare Resources

Many hospitals and birthing centers offer postpartum support services, including lactation consultants, mental health professionals, and support groups. Check with your healthcare provider or facility for available resources.

Prioritize Self-Care

Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take a break. A quiet walk, a relaxing bath, or time with loved ones – these simple acts nourish your well-being. Make them a priority.

Remember, you’re not alone in this new chapter. Reach out, help and support are readily available. Whether it is a small inquiry or a free consultation, is a powerful step towards your healing journey. We, your Vancouver, WA, or Portland area postpartum doulas, are here to ensure your early parenting journey unfolds with peace, joy, and unwavering support. Schedule your free consultation today!


References

Anokye, R., Acheampong, E., Budu-Ainooson, A., Obeng, E. I., & Akwasi, A. G. (2018). Prevalence of postpartum depression and interventions utilized for its management. Ann Gen Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12991-018-0188-0   

Durham, R. F., & Chapman, L. L. (2019). Maternal-newborn nursing: The critical components of nursing care (3rd ed.). F.A. Davis.

Hutchens, B.F., & Kearney, J. (2020). Risk factors for postpartum depression: An umbrella review. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 65(1), 96-108. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmwh.13067

Peters, S. (2022). Baby Nest Birth Services. https://babynestbirth.com/