UI hospital support group targets new mothers


Mothers may not know it, but when dealing with newborn babies or young toddlers gets tough, there is somewhere to turn.

The UI Hospitals and Clinics is offering a new support group, Moms Supporting Moms, in which mothers with infants and toddlers can talk about the joys and struggles of motherhood.

“We see a lot of new moms who are pretty lonely and isolated after the birth,” said Jessica Schultz, a UI doctoral student in counseling psychology. “While they’re pregnant, they’re very excited, and it’s a very joyous time, but also it can be a really difficult time.”

West Branch resident Jennie Embree said she thought the group was a good idea. Although she has not attended, she said she felt raising young children can be overwhelming at times.

“I think in our society, it can be looked down upon to say [motherhood] is difficult,” the mother of three said. “I don’t know if we think motherhood is easy, but it’s really hard.”

Schultz and Jana Owczarzy, a social worker at the UI ob-gyn clinic, facilitate the group, which meets every second and fourth Tuesday at the UIHC. Mothers might discuss such topics as career changes, isolation, and relationships between partners.

One challenge many women encounter after having a baby is deciding whether to be a stay-at-home mother or to go back to work.

Both Schultz and Owczarzy agreed, and they said they’ve talked with women who found themselves in similar situations.

“Sometimes, women experience guilt when going back to work, or often there are mixed emotions surrounding that return to work or stay at home,” Schultz said. “They each carry unique challenges with them.”

Owczarzy said she felt the need to create the group after speaking with new mothers who wanted to talk. She said she felt there were not many outlets for women to express the anxieties and happiness of motherhood.

“We hear its kind of difficult to find someone to talk to,” she said. “This is a venue where [mothers] can be honest.”

The media often present images that focus on the positives of motherhood. This effect, sometimes, can keep women from talking about all the feelings they experience, officials said.

“I’m struck more and more in our society when you have a child and it’s always going to be this really great thing — it’s just going to be wonderful,” Schultz said. “It’s not too often that women are able to have an honest conversation.”

Schultz works in the Women’s Wellness and Counseling Service, were she helps treat pregnant women and new mothers who experience mood and anxiety disorders. Although the group is sponsored by the UIHC, mothers who don’t use the hospital can still participate in the group.

“We are just trying to offer a safe and confidential environment and discuss both positive and negative experiences,” Owczarzy said.

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