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3/6/12 Coalitions in Action: The Success of MotherWoman’s Community-Based Perinatal Support Model© Receiving National Attention


Liz Friedman
Office: (413) 253-8990


Coalitions in Action:
The Success of MotherWoman’s Community-Based Perinatal Support Model©
Receiving National Attention

Community-Based Perinatal Support Model©,
Springfield, MA, Monday, March 12

The #1 complication of childbirth is depression and anxiety, affecting up to 1 in 8 mothers. Yet, mothers struggling with postpartum emotional complications often go unidentified and untreated. The Western Mass Perinatal Support Coalitions throughout the region are changing that.

The Maternal and Child Health Commission of Springfield will be hosting a FREE PRESENTATION on Monday March 12th on “The Community-Based Perinatal Support Model® –how regional coalitions are changing outcomes for mothers and babies.” The presentation will highlight the success of regional coalitions in addressing the critical issues of perinatal mood disorders.

Western Mass Perinatal Support Coalitions in Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin are moving forward in providing access to care for mothers in significant ways. Through a focused approach and with strategic implementation, all three counties are making important steps in caring for new mothers when they experience postpartum depression, anxiety or other emotional complications during pregnancy or in the first year of their baby’s life. Hampden County is also making progress with the leadership of the Baystate Medical Center Task Force chaired by Cheryl Bonica.

The Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire Coalitions are establishing resource and referral mechanisms so that mothers can find care, triage protocols and so that professionals know how to help mothers in crisis. They are also piloting perinatal emotional health screening projects so that all mothers can receive the education and additional treatment that they may require. Additionally, Coalitions provide education, information and integration of de-stigmatization around the issues of perinatal mood disorders for mothers. The Coalitions are committed to FREE support groups in each of these communities for mothers who are struggling with perinatal emotional complications, like depression and anxiety.

Clinical and Support Options is a key partner in all three counties. Karin Jeffers, CEO of CSO said, “Any woman struggling with depression or anxiety during pregnancy or their child's early years needs and deserves the right help quickly, without having to search,
and from those who understand and can make a difference.

“As a coalition, we are working together to be sure we see the signs early and offer help in a way that feels right, whether that is through a support group at the Family Center, or through individual support or treatment. As a coalition, we depend on one another to each hold a piece of the safety net for pregnant women and new parents.”

The success of the Coalitions in addressing mother’s mental health issues has been gathering state-wide and national attention. In early spring, Linda Jablonski, Assistant Nurse Manager at the BirthPlace, Franklin Baystate Medical Center, will be speaking to the Governor’s Commission on Postpartum Depression about the Franklin County Coalition’s success with promoting screening for perinatal emotional complications in the region.

Jablonski, Liz Friedman, Program Director of MotherWoman and Dr. Nancy Byatt, psychiatrist from UMass Worcester’s Women’s Mental Health Clinic, presented the Community-Based Perinatal Support Model© to the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs in Washington, D.C. in February.

One participant said, “Thank you for bringing us this model. Thank you for speaking about the work you are doing and your own experiences with perinatal emotional complications. You have empowered me to go home and change the way my community is looking at this issue.”
Regional partners include: ServiceNet, Clinical and Support Options, Franklin Baystate Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, The Brien Center, Berkshire Medical Center, Hampshire OB/GYN, Northampton Area Pediatrics, Community Action, Community Health Partners, and many others.


 "The Community-Based Perinatal Support Model® – how regional coalitions are changing outcomes for mothers and babies"

Maternal and Child Health Commission of Springfield
Monday, March 12th,1pm – 2:30pm
Shriners Hospital, Carew Street, Springfield, MA


MotherWoman’s mission is to support and empower mothers to create positive personal and social change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world. MotherWoman also addresses the socio-economic issues facing American mothers by advocating for family-friendly policy.

Beth Spong, MotherWoman’s Executive Director, says “Through our support groups, training programs and political action, we’re working to ensure that every mother has access to the support she needs in her community.”

MotherWoman programs include:

  • Mothers Groups - Led by trained facilitators, these support groups offer places to talk openly about the challenges of parenting, gain support and build community.
  • Postpartum Support Initiative – Creates a comprehensive safety net for mothers by building Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Coalitions of providers of service to mothers and families in the four counties of Western MA.
  • Facilitator Training – A 25-hour training which provides diverse community leaders and professionals with the skills needed to offer new MotherWoman Support Groups.
  • Professional Training – Teaches medical and social service providers about the complex mental health and socio-political factors involved in the crisis of postpartum anxiety and depression.
  • Policy and Advocacy – Nonpartisan advocacy program organizes mothers, fathers and caregivers to take action on policy issues impacting families.