ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Health advocates in the St. Louis area are reaching out to new moms, wanting them to know they are not alone if they are struggling right now.

Experts at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital said nearly a quarter of women experience mood disorders like depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth.

Adding a global pandemic and the winter blues on to that, it is a lot for anyone to handle.

St. Louis County mom Jamie Dilorenzo-Lohman knows that first hand. She has a 2-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter. She says she struggled with post-partum anxiety after both pregnancies.

"How it manifests in my brain is it makes my thoughts more busy. I can't slow them down," said Dilorenzo-Lohman. "It affects my sleep. Checking my baby, checking his breath, making sure he was breathing at night."

She recently sought support after her daughter was born in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think there were a lot of things that were typically happy were replaced with fear. The anguish of who can meet the baby, when is it ok, and are we putting Josephine at risk or my grandma? What is the risk of her meeting her?" said Dilorenzo-Lohman.

Doctors say the extra stress of COVID-19 is real and shouldn't be brushed off.

"We need to recognize that this is a generational stressor," said Dr. Kathrine Mathews, SLUCare OB/GYN at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital. "My mom was a child during World War II. And that is how I think about this, being as significant for a generation of families and children as World War II was for this country."

Mathews specializes in post-partum depression.

"I would really caution, if anyone holds on to that idea that depression is something we should just tough out, that it's all in her head or attitude, we consider this a medical condition and serious medical condition. For people to recognize it's real and this isn't just something she's supposed to get over," said Mathews. 

She has this advice for moms:

  • Find a way to get outside each day because sunlight makes a difference, even on cloudy days.
  • Find something positive in each day.
  • And get at least five hours of sleep in a 24 hour period

Dilorenzo-Lohman says she continues to work through her struggles but is in a good place and wants other moms to know they aren't alone.

"It's ok to not have it all figured out," said Dilorenzo-Lohman. "I would love for moms to feel encouraged. Some of the things that may be hard and you're struggling with, actually means you're an awesome mom."

Free resources are available to all St. Louis area moms including through SSM Health.

The SSM Moms Line Phone number is 314-786-6667 which is a free resource for peer support. 

Sage Tree Therapy, which focuses on moms, is currently taking to new clients. 

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