We care about the community we serve. Columbia Center Birth Hospital’s commitment to Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Washington counties has grown through thoughtful consideration of the most pressing health needs. There are many ways we stay connected to the families in the area, but one formal method is conducting a periodic, comprehensive Community Needs Assessment. Quantitative and qualitative data help us decide what our patients need, what the region wants and how we can better serve you.
Community Needs Assessment – June 2013
In the first months after childbirth, a woman goes through significant physical and hormonal changes. At the same time she has new responsibilities, with all the thrills and stresses involved in having a newborn. And during it all, the woman is likely to experience sleep deprivation. Thus, it is normal to feel the gamut of emotions, from total joy to being overwhelmed. In fact, most women experience the “baby blues,” mild depression lasting for a few days or weeks after childbirth.
Columbia Center has partnered with Mequon Clinical Associates since 2008 and offers a weekly support group for new mothers experiencing the challenges of mood changes in the perinatal period. This group is for any mother concerned about the wide range of emotions of motherhood. We want women to know that they are not alone and they can feel better.
An estimated 10 – 20% of all women experience postpartum depression, a more severe form of emotional distress.
Women with postpartum depression may experience one or many of the following symptoms:
- Anxiety, restlessness
- Irritability, anger, mood swings
- Sadness, hopelessness, weepiness
- Uncomfortable, intrusive thoughts, decreased ability to concentrate
- Fears of harming herself or her baby
- The feeling that “something is just not right”
Postpartum depression is a medical condition that responds very well to appropriate treatment. A physician may recommend medication, a more thorough assessment and/or counseling with a specialist in postpartum depression, or a support group. However, the very women who need this support often have a hard time leaving their home to get the support they need.
Columbia Center’s weekly Beyond the Baby Blues Group has had sporadic attendance. In hopes of reaching out to more of the twenty plus percent of women who experience postpartum depression/mood disorders, Columbia Center focused our Community Assessment on trying to identify new ways to reach out to and better support these women in need.
In order to better understand the emotional needs and concerns of new mothers and their families in Ozaukee County, Columbia Center partnered with Kirsten Johnson, MPH, Ozaukee County Department of Health, Jennifer Doering, RN, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Rose Eichenhoefer, LCSW, Mequon-based licensed social worker to develop a plan, and ultimately determine three survey questions to assess the needs of women (and/or their family members) in Ozaukee County..
In June 2013 Columbia Center mailed a postcard to the 391 women in Ozaukee County who had given birth between November 2012 and May 2013. The postcard invited the mothers or their family members to complete an anonymous, online survey. The survey link was also made available on Columbia Center’s Facebook page.
Forty five surveys were completed online (11.5% return rate). The results were shared with Ms. Johnson, Dr. Doering and Ms. Eichenhoefer, as well as Columbia Center staff involved in facilitating the group. All agreed that the returned surveys, though limited in number actually produced similar results to what would be seen in a larger population.
Eighty-seven percent of respondents preferred in person support groups so Columbia Center Administration supported a recommendation to trial a change of the weekly meeting from 9 -10 am to 6-7 pm. The Columbia Center website was updated and multiple postings were made on Facebook regarding the change in time for the support group. The evening group time was made available from August through December 2013, however there were no mothers who attended the group during that time so in January 2014 we returned to offering the group between 9 and 10 am on Wednesdays.
We are pleased to report that in the last 2 months, attendance at the Beyond the Baby Blues group has improved. We will continue to monitor the attendance, and work with those new mothers who do attend to offer the best support we can.
Survey Questions – Response Rates to Each Question
1. Since your baby was born, have you (or your family member who recently gave birth)
- Often felt nervous, anxious or on edge? 35.6%
- Often felt tired or had little energy? – 62.2%
- Often not been able to control or stop worrying? – 7.8%
- Often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless? – 2.2%
- Often had trouble falling or staying asleep even when provided the opportunity to do so? – 8.9%
- Often slept too much? – 0%
- Often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things? – 17.8%
- Often had a poor appetite or overeaten? – 15.6%
- Often felt bad about yourself, felt like a failure, of that you let yourself or your family down? – 24.4%
- Often had trouble concentrating on things like reading, TV or conversations? – 15.6%
- Had thoughts of hurting yourself? – 2.2%
- Felt numb or detached from your baby, family, activities or surroundings? –11.1%
- Been constantly on guard, watchful or easily startled? – 2.2%
- I have not had any of these feelings. – 0%
2. Do you know of support groups in the community for new moms struggling with sadness or other difficult feelings?
- No – 54.5%
- Yes – 45.5%
3. If you were interested in attending a support group for new moms struggling with these feelings, would you consider attending if the format was:
- In person – 87.5%
- Online chat – 50%
- Skype – 10%