Motherhood does not come with a handbook, and many new moms are left feeling alone. Many suffer from postpartum anxiety and depression and feel they have no one to turn to for help. Now, moms can reach out to The Motherhood Center. Recently opened in February of this year, The Motherhood Center provides invaluable help and support for new moms.
What’s more, they will be at the New York Baby Show on May 20 and 21, at Pier 94.
The nation’s largest show for expectant and new families, the New York Baby Show is a wonderful family-friendly mega-event featuring everything to do with maternity, baby, and toddler. From top products to trusted parenting experts, the New York Baby Show welcomes thousands of expectant and new parents from New York City, the Tri-State area, and beyond!
Tickets to the New York Baby Show are $30 per family, and $20 per individual.
We spoke with Paige Bellenbaum, Program Director of The Motherhood Center team, to learn more about the brand and what new parents can expect at the New York Baby Show.
For someone unfamiliar with The Motherhood Center, how would you describe the company’s mission and core offerings?
At The Motherhood Center, we are committed to providing support and treatment to new and expecting mothers across New York City, including a range of treatment options for women suffering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) otherwise known as postpartum depression. At least 20% of all new and expecting moms suffer from PMADs – and this percentage only reflects the women who come forward as there is still such a negative stigma around mental health. At The Motherhood Center, we offer three tiers of service:
- Classes and Education – We provide classes for pregnant women and new parents as they transition to parenthood including: What to expect during pregnancy; childbirth preparation; sleep settling; infant bonding and attachment.
- Counseling and Consultation – We provide initial evaluations and assessments, as well as ongoing therapy and treatment including: Medication management; individual therapy; couples and family therapy; support groups.
- Day Program – We provide day-treatment and care for pregnant and postpartum mothers (and their infants) suffering from PMADs including: Daily individual group therapy; daily group therapy sessions; mother-infant therapy; medication management; education and support for family members.
Tell us about the company’s background. When did it start and how has it evolved since then?
In early 2014, The Motherhood Center’s founder Billy Ingram left his job as the CFO of Frontier Healthcare, a New York-based medical group, with the idea of founding his own startup. Ingram, who is Australian, learned from two friends of a program run through the Masada Private Hospital in Melbourne: A week-long, in-patient treatment course for mothers and babies up to 24 months old, in which nurses would get the infants on more regular sleep cycles while mother receive counseling, and are transitioned into caring for the baby in a supported environment. It was a very popular program and reimbursed by insurance and he decided to try to establish something similar in America.
“I thought that perhaps, something like this already existed,” he says. “But what I found was not only does this not exist, but the level of care and awareness that existed in Australia and most of Europe doesn’t really exist here in the treatment options. The screenings are haphazard and spotty and the awareness of the specific nature and incidence of PMADs is very poor in America.”
In New York, Ingram began to meet with various nonprofits, including Postpartum Support International and the Postpartum Resource Center of New York. Through those meetings, he met Catherine Birndorf, a well-known reproductive psychiatrist in New York, who was supportive of the idea, and now serves as the center’s medical director. The two started consulting about the project, and Birndorf suggested to Ingram that he look into the Women & Infants Hospital in Rhode Island, affiliated with Brown University’s medical system and established in 2000 as the first specific perinatal partial hospitalization program in the U.S. (Partial hospitalization programs fall in between inpatient and outpatient programs and generally involve five to six hours of on-site care, five days a week.) Prior to meeting with the hospital’s director, Margaret Howard, Ingram had been considering developing an overnight, in-patient facility for mothers in New York, but after his visit to Rhode Island, decided that the partial-hospitalization model offered more flexibility in terms of licensing and services offered.
However, the Motherhood Center of New York differs from Rhode Island’s model in two crucial ways: it offers an on-site nursery where licensed childcare workers take care of infants while mothers attend sessions, and the center operates completely independently of any medical institution. Driving that decision is the desire to make the center accessible to as many women as possible.
The opening of The Motherhood Center folds in neatly with a greater state- and city-wide push for more awareness around maternal depression. Motivated by her own experience with PMADs, Paige Bellenbaum reached out to New York State Senator Liz Kruger, who, along with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, drafted a bill in 2014 recommending education and screening for maternal depression. When New York City’s First Lady, Chirlane McCray, introduced the comprehensive mental health plan, ThriveNYC, in November 2015, universal depression screenings for all new and expectant mothers was one of the top-line goals. Bellenbaum was one of the keynote speakers at the rollout event for ThriveNYC; Ingram and Birndorf were in the audience and afterward went up and asked her if she wanted to get involved with the Motherhood Center (Birndorf had treated Bellenbaum for her depression back in 2006). Bellenbaum came on board as program director in early 2016.
What are the most popular and/or newest programs/services from The Motherhood Center?
Everything at The Motherhood Center is new as we only just opened our doors in late February of 2017! The phones have been ringing off the hook to the extent that we did not send out a massive “We Are Open!” announcement because we couldn’t keep up with the volume. We have had to bring on multiple new staff members to keep up with the demand, and we have already run out of office space! This obviously speaks to the need for these types of services for new and expecting moms.
Our most popular / needed services are outpatient therapy, and our day program for pregnant and new moms that are having a really hard time transitioning to parenthood and need to be with us every day for 2 – 3 weeks for day treatment. We have 4 graduates of the program, all of who have delivered flowers and chocolates to the staff when they were discharged. I got the following note a few weeks ago from one of our graduates: “Dear Paige, thank you from the bottom of my heart for a safe place to feel heard and supported and recover. The Motherhood Center has given me my life back. I’m so grateful for the intensive day program and all the treatment I’ve received!”
What sets The Motherhood Center apart from other prenatal/postnatal groups for new moms?
The Motherhood Center is the first of its kind program in the U.S. that provides support, education and treatment to all new and expecting mothers from those who are making the transition to parenthood very well, to those who are having a really tough time, to everyone in between. Whether a woman is looking for a new moms support group, lactation consultation, individual therapy or more intensive wrap-around services to help her feel better, The Motherhood Center offers something for every new and expecting mom making the transition to parenthood.
What can parents expect from The Motherhood Center at the New York Baby Show?
We will provide literature – including brochures and posters that market all of our programs and services. We will have The Motherhood Staff on hand to answer any questions at all regarding our offerings, as well as clinicians that can speak to the symptoms that go hand and hand with PMADs. We will also be participating in a panel at the event speaking about the difference between baby blues and PMADs, the prevalence of PMADs, and what The Motherhood Center has to offer to new and expecting mothers that are struggling.
To learn more about The Motherhood Center, check out themotherhoodcenter.com.