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Medical Center of Southeast Texas initiates M.O.M.S. support group

New, expecting and current mothers go through a lot, and motherhood sometimes can feel like a lonely, daunting task.

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas women’s unit saw the need for mothers to feel as if they are a part of a group who understands their fears, trials and tribulations.

With the help of the hospital and client feedback, Candice Peña, director of women’s services, recently launched the first session of “Moms Offering Moms Support” or M.O.M.S — the first group of its kind in SETX.

“It is a women’s service and medical center like group,” Peña said. “We pull together as a team and use all our interdisciplinary teams to best provide a support group for moms of all ages.”

Some struggle

Peña saw the need for the group after hearing about the struggle mothers were going through after being discharged from the hospital.

“There’s definitely a need for moms in the area who just don’t have the support or the family to lean on,” she said. “A lot of first-time mothers struggle when they get home. Our nursing staff recognized that need and we needed to come up with something to help these moms when they leave the hospital.”

M.O.M.S. provides women a chance to discuss topics from breastfeeding to postpartum depression, Peña said.

“We want to be a family for these moms and to be able to provide an atmosphere where they can come and talk about the good and the bad,” she said. “We want moms to see what may seem normal or not normal to them and sometimes being able to hear from someone else may give them the confidence and reassurance they need to be a better person and a better mom.”

Meetings typically start with a leading question from counselors and then the floor opens up for any additional questions or discussions.

“Our counselor actually leads a discussion, so we all come, sit down and introduce ourselves,” Peña said. “We start it with an open question; the first one we did was, ‘What is normal and abnormal for you as a mom?’ What may be abnormal for one may actually be normal and after you hear the other moms start talking, you might feel a little more security in it. It’s good to hear other people have these same issues and see it’s OK.

“Then we have an open forum. We ask how everything is going, if anyone has anything going on in their life they want to talk about or share. We get a really good interaction that way.”

The Medical Center of Southeast Texas launched a new support group for mothers, ‘Moms Offering Moms Support.’ Meetings are held every Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the second floor, room 206. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Support, direction

The group also provides medical support and direction with certified lactation consultants on hand, counselors, nutritionists and nurses from labor and delivery, postpartum depression and NICU.

“We do a lot of follow-up calls with our lactation specialists, as well as our nutritionists,” Peña said. “We’ll call and do follow ups with our postpartum moms, with our NICU moms just to see how things are going. A lot of these moms don’t have any resources around here. They are usually told to get on medication or look for family support, but some of them have multiple children and it’s hard for them to even get to the doctor for a follow-up appointment or they may not have the family support they need.

“We try to manage it while they are here. That’s our goal. We don’t want them to leave here and still feel like they need help. That’s why we pull our resources together at one time. If they need outside help we set it up and follow through with that, so they can get the help they need in a timely manner.”

Quick response

Peña said she and the medical center unit started putting the group together in June and their first meeting last week had a phenomenal response.

“Our moms that were here were really excited about it,” she said. “We had our in-patients really involved and people from out servicing. They said they felt comfortable. It wasn’t like a counseling session or therapy. It was more of a family-friend atmosphere that we had.”

The meetings are breastfeeding friendly and open to moms of all ages and stages, Peña said.

“If you have your nursling that comes with you we have it open to them,” she said. “We are very baby friendly. We are a very family centered, open group. We want people to come of all ages. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in with mom life. It doesn’t have to be a new mom, it can be a mom with a teenager who is going to college and they have that empty nest syndrome.

“We have a lot of nursing staff here engaging and wanting to support moms of all ages, even those who are pregnant and want to be prepared ahead of time. We really encourage moms to participate, they can come and go as they please — come one, come all.”

Early aid

Peña wants the group to be able to support women before they feel like they need to seek professional help.

“Our hope is to be able to be a resource center for moms who need help from any location,” she said. “It’s not just patients that are here, but anywhere in the area. We are open to moms all over Southeast Texas.”

Meetings are held at 10 a.m. Tuesdays on the second floor of the Medical Center of Southeast Texas, Room 206. The center is located at 2555 Jimmy Johnson Blvd. in Port Arthur.

For more information visit https://www.medicalcentersetexas.org/#