Hennepin County Program Helps New Moms Adjust to Motherhood

Updated: 04/03/2013 7:02 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson

Ellie Zuehlke literally felt that she would be better off dead, to escape this really bad pain. This is what she was thinking in her darkest moment. It was two weeks after the birth of her first child. She says the emotions came out of nowhere.

"It's like physically painful and it's like you're in concrete and you just can't get out of this really bad feeling," Zuehlke said.

She says she was going through postpartum depression. Doctor Elizabeth LaRusso of Abbott Northwestern Hospital says prevention is the key to fighting it.

"All women who are pregnant would be screened for risk factors to identify the women who would be at high risk for postpartum depression during pregnancy," Dr. LaRusso said.

To ensure that once a new mother goes home and blossoms with her child, a new program in Hennepin County has been set up.

It's called the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. It's all about providing home visiting services to mothers who are found to have depression and need support. Home visitors may have backgrounds in social work, mental health, psychology and nursing. The county has received a federal grant for just over $500,000 spread out over 2.5 years to fund it.
Zuehlke says she hopes more women get help.

"A lot of women don't and there's a lot of shame, and I think there's a lot of stories that end differently because people are afraid to reach out and get help," Zuehlke said.
This is the first project of its kind in Minnesota. Right now, there are currently 200 families involved in the program.