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Parenting While in Recovery

Group Offers Weekly Support to Mothers

Written by Molly Smerika on June 17, 2024

According to the Maternal Mortality in Colorado report, the number one cause of pregnancy-associated deaths (deaths that happen during pregnancy or within one year after the end of pregnancy) in the state were suicide and unintentional overdoses.

Britt Westmoreland

Britt Westmoreland, a recovery coach and doula

Britt Westmoreland, a recovery coach and doula for the University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus says the data illustrates a gap in care, and the need to focus on support before and after pregnancy.

“When someone is pregnant, they have people around them all the time, but once you’re about six weeks postpartum, most people don’t have those resources or touchpoints anymore,” she says.

That’s why she spearheaded a group called Mothers United in Recovery through the college’s Recovery Coach Doula Program. The community parenting group meets over Zoom every Friday, offering community support for people who identify as mothers with substance use disorder (SUD). Westmoreland and Felicia Gonsalez, a doula and peer support specialist, facilitate the group.

Mothers United in Recovery is open to Colorado mothers with children of all ages – from infants to adults. The group shares support and advice, providing a safe space for mothers to share how they are navigating their recovery journey.

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Felicia Gonsalez, a doula and peer support specialist

“This really adds to the peer support aspect of our group,” Westmoreland says. “Mothers can get advice from more seasoned mothers and share their experiences.”

Westmoreland is in recovery herself and says that brings a new perspective to the group.

“There’s a big difference between a clinical-led group and this group,” she says. “Everyone knows you’re a peer in this group, so this fosters more immediate trust, understanding, and community than a group led by someone who doesn’t share those experiences.”

More Recovery Resources

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Download the Mothers United in Recovery flyer 

Westmoreland created Mothers United in Recovery to offer an alternative to a 12-step program or mandated treatment. She says it’s important to support all pathways to recovery and make sure different pathways are as accessible as possible. The program does not require attendance at a specific number of meetings and mothers can join when they’re available.

“There’s been a repeated need throughout my years in the field for a program like this,” she says. “People want a support group specific to their experience as a mother with SUD, but they may not want to do a 12-step program.”

Westmoreland hopes to eventually hold the groups in-person to form more personal connections, but she says, right now, a virtual format is more convenient.

“Everybody is busy, particularly moms, so right now, they’re more likely to show up if they can be on their phone or computer,” she says. “They don’t have to worry about their kids running around – even though they’re welcome.”

“I’ve seen the positive impact this support group has had on people in terms of the structure and the peer support people get from each other,” she adds. “I thought starting Mothers United in Recovery would provide even more support for mothers.”