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Arkansas legislators work to pass a bill for new mothers



Arkansas – A new bill aimed at assisting mothers dealing with postpartum depression is being considered by Arkansas lawmakers.

The Public, Health, Welfare, and Labor House Committee heard testimony regarding SB1103 on Tuesday.

A bill raised awareness of postpartum depression and the effects it has on moms of all ages.

“Universal home visiting for new moms and infants and basically that would be a big umbrella to allow every new mom an opportunity to have a nurse come into their home about two or three weeks after birth to check on them and to also check on the baby,” said Arkansas Rep. Julie Mayberry, R-District 92.

The concept has already been put into practice in Union County by a program called family connections, and thus far, it appears to be effective.

“It has been very successful,” said Alison Stone, Director of Women Services, at Medical Center of South Arkansas. “We have seen a lot of our moms deliver second and third babies so we have been doing two and three home visits so that is really exciting.”

The program was used by mother and nurse Morgan Owens, who claimed she would use it again in a heartbeat.

“That reassurance that everything was going good, she was gaining weight, and everything was on track for her just gave me a lot of reassurance and that comfort that I needed as a new mom,” said Owens.

Ashly Thomas spoke on a personal experience while testifying in favor of the legislation.

She admitted that she wasn’t sure how to handle the situation at the time.

“Very extreme imagery in my mind about harming myself, harming my kids, especially the babies at the time,” said Thomas. “It was terrifying because I didn’t really know who I could tell what was happening in my mind.”

She was fortunate to have a strong support system, but so many mothers do not, according to Thomas.

She claimed that was the purpose of this bill.

“I would not have to leave my home and go out somewhere. Someone would come to me,” said Thomas. “This program would bring a nurse into my house to come and visit with me, talk to me, to be able to pick up on non-verbal cues that ‘hey, she is struggling. She needs help.’ and help get me in touch with whoever I need to get in touch with. I am truly blessed and thankful to still be here because I almost was not.”

If approved, it will begin as a pilot program with 2,500 mothers, according to Mayberry.

In the end, committee members requested that the bill be tabled until a more thorough analysis of the program’s costs could be made.