Avera Medical Minute: “Fourth Trimester” group therapy offers help with postpartum depression

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:21 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Having a child is one of life’s blessings. But for many new moms, giving birth can also bring on postpartum depression.

“After I had children, then I knew what true depression was,” said mom-of-three Melissa Baker. “Which is kind of crazy because that’s supposed to be a super happy time in your life.”

Bringing a new baby into the world and into your life is a big adjustment. The new bundle of joy can bring on feelings of anxiety in new moms and even those who’ve given birth before.

Melissa Baker experienced postpartum depression after giving birth to each of her children.

She says it was different each time, but every bout brought along some horrible thoughts.

“So I was having thoughts that like, I couldn’t even do dishes because I was so nervous that if I thought a knife, I would hurt someone. It was something I couldn’t control, or nothing that I wanted to, I didn’t want to have these thoughts,” Baker said.

After a friend referred her to Avera’s postpartum group therapy meetings known as “Fourth Trimester,” Melissa quickly realized she wasn’t alone in her experience.

“So the Fourth Trimester is designed as after the baby comes, how can we help you and provide a supportive therapy environment for these women,” said Avera Clinical Psychologist Dr. Nancy Wise-Vanderlee.

Dr. Wise-Vanderlee leads the group therapy meetings. She says they can be a vital part of a mom’s adjustment to life post-delivery.

“It improves in that they don’t feel isolated, they feel what they’re going through is normal and that really is the quality that group therapy offers for them.”

About 10% to 15% of new moms experience some form of postpartum depression.

“With early identification and treatment, yes, it does end this is treatable,” said Dr. Wise-Vanderlee. “Women won’t feel like this way forever, and that’s the great thing about psychotherapy is we can really make a difference.”

The Fourth Trimester group therapy meetings are moving to a new location this October at the Avera Professional Plaza near 33rd and Cliff.

The new facility gives the group room to expand.

For more information on postpartum depression and “Fourth Trimester,” visit

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