Help is at hand in Valley for postpartum depression

STRUTHERS — Jodi Kluchar hit a low point about two weeks after her son was born eight years ago.

She had gone through a rare but terrifying experience during the delivery in which she stopped breathing for no apparent reason, though she remained conscious through it.

Doctors got her breathing again and delivered the baby C-section. But the experience and her 44-hour labor shook her emotionally and caused nightmares. It was her first baby, and the baby also had colic.

“It was like a black cloud came over me, and I felt really empty, like I had no hope,” she said.

The situation became almost unbearable.

“I felt like a terrible mom because I couldn’t comfort him. It got to the point where I didn’t want to do anything,” she said.

That led to thoughts of suicide.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said, adding, “What really scared me was I was having thoughts about hurting my son.”

Kluchar didn’t know where to turn.

“I was afraid to tell anyone because I was afraid they would take my baby away from me,” she said. Her fears led her to avoid being around the baby at times.

Though she made it through that episode on her own, many of the same fears returned when she became pregnant a second time about a year later.

The prospect of going through delivery again caused panic attacks when she was five months pregnant. That’s when she sought help from a friend at church, who put her in touch with medical help and counseling.

Anti-depressant medication helped her through the pregnancy, delivery and the first weeks afterwards. But depression dogged her again about a month after the birth, until her doctor adjusted her medication.

Today, Mahoning Valley residents have several places to turn for help with postpartum depression, thanks to the chapter of the Postpartum Support International support group Kluchar started a year ago and the Help Me Grow programs in every county in Ohio.

In Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, Help Me Grow provides a free newborn home visit from a registered nurse to all new moms. During the visit, a registered nurse is able to give the mom a mental health evaluation to determine whether she is suffering from post partum depresssion. The funding also pays for further evaluation and treatment if necessary.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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