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Two big concerns on many a new mom’s mind are bonding with her baby and getting her body back in shape. We’re fortunate to have two franchises locally that may help meet these goals, although they aren’t specifically for pregnancy or postpartum depression (etc.).

“My Gym” in Kailua, has mom and baby groups for babies 6 weeks to 6 months and then 7 months to 13 months, and others as well. Stroller Strides is island-wide and offers moms a mom and baby workout, outside, with other moms.

Bonding, or, attachment. This is a big issue in the professional PPD literature. PPD can interfere with attachment; it’s hard to form any relationship when you’re feeling anxious or depressed.–Heck, just being around the people we love while experiencing PPD can be difficult.–Yet a good attachment with baby and parent can reduce long-term impacts of postpartum depression. That’s a bit simplistic, but My Gym is a simple, positive help for parent and baby fun. The Kailua location opened on June 28, so no reviews from moms/dads locally about increased feelings of closeness with baby yet. It just looks like their Little Bundles and Tiny Tykes parent participation classes could really help make some headway. Attachment, by the way, isn’t instant. It builds over time.

For the body and PPD, one of the things suggested as a natural remedy is exercise. Anyone who has had PPD of any variety can tell you, in the beginning, exercise is way down on the list of priorities, far past the item, “get shower in before 3 p.m.” Everything weighs so heavily with PPD, at least initially. As treatment begins to take effect though, or for those with more mild symptoms, exercise may be a good option.

Stroller Strides currently has an article , Walk Away From the Baby Blues, referencing Australian research. After a 12 week session, the mothers had less symptoms of postpartum depression. In an email from Stroller Strides HQ, I was assured that they “do have dads as members… but not that many!” So, any dads out there experiencing a postpartum struggle, check it out. And check out a future entry about dads having PPD.

Both My Gym and Stroller Strides increase a parent’s social support network. That, combined with getting out of the house… can be priceless.

Check these out and report back!

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A mere 1 out of 21 births to PATH clinic’s mothers have been premature. 5%. According to MedlinePlus, “A premature baby, or preemie, is born before the 37th week of pregnancy. Premature birth occurs in between 8-10% of all pregnancies in the United States.” Looks like the clinic is doing well then, with only 1 premature birth.

So what?, why comment?, and what is the PATH clinic?, you wonder.

The March of Dimes shows Hawaii’s overall 2005 rate of preterm births at 12.2%.

Any type of substance use during pregnancy can increase poor or less-than-ideal outcomes, including preterm birth.

PATH clinic = Perinatal Addiction Treatment of Hawaii. The moms-to-be at the PATH clinic are or were addicted to some kind of substance when they first went there. Something is working because even though a group of 21 is pretty small to base statistics from, it’s enough to make a good impression and a tremendous impact.

Read the whole story about how Moms-to-be get on a better path.

Keep it up, mamas and PATH clinic! Learn more here.

I was talking to someone’s mother recently–she was trying to locate help for postpartum anxiety and I told her about HMSA’s He Hapai Pono program -the Good Pregnancy. I’ve referred stressed, depressed and anxious new moms who have HMSA medical coverage to He Hapai Pono regularly for a few years now. It was after normal office hours on the weekend. I wondered whether there was someone to talk to if you called their listed “in case you feel that you need help immediately” phone number.

Well, I’m game–and gave it a shot. At first I got an answering machine message with two options, option #1 was to speak to someone right away. I thought the call maybe forwarded to Hawaii’s ACCESS Line, the state-run crisis line (832-3100, 1-800-753-6879 for Neighbor Islands). I pressed “1″ and almost immediately a slightly harried-sounding woman picked up the call. Just as quickly, she put me on “hold”, coming back a few moments later. Not bad for a weekend (and) evening!

No, she was definitely not ACCESS Line, she said. But she did have their number for me if I needed. I let her get back to her very busy evening and hung up relieved to know that He Hapai Pono is out there, with more than a warm line, for Hawaii’s HMSA moms struggling with pregnancy- or postpartum-depression or anxiety.

What is He Hapai Pono, you ask? Champuru wrote it up from a mom’s point of view, after learning about it, not from her own medical care organization (HMSA) but from the mothers on Hawaii Moms. And look!! If you (as an HMSA member) sign up, THEY SCREEN FOR PRENATAL DEPRESSION! Kudos!

Happy (a bit late) Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Fathers are often left standing on the side, don’t you think? Remember, moms, being pregnant and how people ask about you, how are you feeling, can you feel the baby yet, etc. It’s kind of nice being center stage for a bit, right?

And then… you HAVE the baby and it’s like–poof!!–you’re instantly invisible.

“Oh, how’s the BAAAABYYYYYY!!!!??” Cuuuuuuuuute!How much did s/he weight?How long was the labor?Is s/he eating well?Sleeping?Baby blah blah blah, Baby, Baby…

Um, hellllo? Still here you know! (you think to yourself) Am I invisible? Chopped liver?

Well. Where are the dads through all this? They’ve gotten less attention all along. Like an afterthought. If we new-moms-no-longer-pregnant are suddenly invisible, what does that make the dads? Non-existent?

Throw in some PPD* and dads are often shoved even further into the background. Baby and mom’s health become the focus. BUT PPD AFFECTS THE WHOLE FAMILY. It wasn’t until years after my own PPD that I realized how devastating a wife’s PPD can be for the dad. Arizona’s Christi Hibbert (PsyD)’s DVD, “Postparum Mood Disorders: The Couple’s Experience” includes dads. Three families are interviewed. Three dads are choked up in the interviews–because it was the first time anyone asked them about THEIR experience of the PPD.

“An alien abducted my wife,” one dad says, only half joking, trying to hold it together on camera while his face all at once expresses his raw confusion, anger, resentment and relief. Talk about some post traumatic stress! They too have battled.

PPD truly is a couples’ issue. Therapists, doctors, support groups out there, please (continue to) include the dads. Moms, include your baby’s father in your treatment; attending therapy, seeing the psychiatrist, joining the support group. PPD is happening within you, but its effects reach outside of you. Imagine being the one who couldn’t see anything wrong but you knew that something was “off”. What a helpless feeling! Include him.

Celebrate his being a father!

I’m always inspired. It shouldn’t be a headline that I was inspired but it is.

This year the Postpartum Support International Conference was in Houston, Texas. In the postpartum world, that means George Parnham, Andrea Yates and her 5 children, retrials, postpartum psychosis. Inspiring.

It’s been two years since I’ve attended the conference and in those two years it has grown exponentially! The coordinators’ dinner this year was about the size of the entire conference dinner in 2004 or 2005. Makes me all warm just thinking about it, the growth. Wow.

So I met Ms. Postpartum Progress there (well, and a ton of others in the PPD world too!) and she’s a lot of the inspiration behind the blog. But so are the other Hawaii attendees. “How do we gather more people to start screening new moms?”we asked ourselves. So, maybe this will help.

The goal of this blog is to be PPD Hawaii central. You maybe could tell that from the blog sub-head. Let me know if there’s something coming up related to perinatal mood disorders (PMDs) (a.k.a. postpartum depression). Training. Or if there is news around the islands related to it. Legislation. An outstanding provider. Outstanding clinic or health center. Something you notice that needs to happen. A great story of recovery. Anything related to perinatal mood disorders here in Hawaii.