We talk a lot about low-income women in public health, and rightly so. Low-income women often do not have the resources to afford mental and physical health services and quality childcare. We do not usually talk about middle and upper-middle class women. They face different mental health issues than low-income women, but still often face stressful situations.
PACE is a women’s group in DC that provides emotional support to women postpartum. The fee is $300 and groups are held midmorning during the week. Clientele are well-off and highly educated women. I spoke with one of the directors of PACE and we talked about why this group exists. They have thought about the fact that they do not reach high-risk women in the DC area. The mothers that attend PACE groups are often over-read and over-informed. The environment these women live in is completely different from their counterparts living from paycheck to paycheck. Instead of hoping there will be enough food on the table, these women worry about whether all of the food on the table is pesticide-free, organic and nutritionally balanced. Instead of (sometimes) begrudgingly taking their child to the closest public school, these women are fighting for the next opening at the best kindergarten in the city. Instead of wondering if they will get their hourly job back after taking time off, these women wonder how having a child will affect their progression up the work-status ladder (or alternatively, how they will most confidently declare they are stay-at-home-moms).
The stressors high SES women face are vastly different from those of low SES women, however, they are still prone to postpartum depression and distress. PACE is one DC group that addresses the needs of these women. In these small, private groups the new mothers discuss the transition into motherhood and how it affects their relationships with themselves, partners, family, friends and coworkers. In a lot of ways, it is a place for mothers who feel they must represent themselves as the perfect mother to let their guard down and tell it as it really is. Personally I believe that many of the stressors (excluding postpartum depression and other mental health disorders) are created by the women and community, but to a certain extent this group helps new moms realize this.
PACE appears to be an important group that services a very specific population in the city. They provide necessary mental help support to new mothers and also foster relationship between new mothers to reduce feelings of isolation. It is unfortunate that most low-income women do not have the luxury of attending such groups. On the other hand, low-income women may have the benefit of having more family around to help them through their transition to motherhood.