Meet the Founder
Suzanne Swanson, PhD
Suzanne specializes in pregnancy, birth, postpartum and mothering. Her specialty-with-a-specialty is working with birth trauma. Since 2006, she has been a Minnesota Co-ordinator for Postpartum Support International (PSI). Suzanne also serves on the board for Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth (PATTCh). Suzanne is the author of What Other Worlds: Postpartum Poems. She is the mother of three grown children, and grandmother to one small grandson. She is co-creator, with Susan Lane, of the class Another Birth/Another Story, for pregnant couples who have experienced a previous traumatic birth.
In 2005 a mutual friend who’d moved to Portland OR told me to call Wendy Davis, then Program Director of Postpartum Support International. "She’s going to that conference -- PSI -- you’re going to in Chicago. She needs a roommate." Both of us are introverts, but somehow we decided we could share a hotel room, and somehow that turned out to be wonderful. The next time I was visiting Portland, we met again and walked through Tryon State Park, talking, talking, talking and Wendy gave me her soft-sell pitch: "We need a Minnesota co-ordinator. If you take that position, you can do as much or as little as you have time for."
I said yes, and in 2006 became Minnesota’s first PSI Co-ordinator. That meant continuing to do on a more defined basis what I’d been doing for a long while: learning about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, supporting women who were suffering, and helping women and families find local resources and providers who could help them. I knew a few mental health practitioners who worked with postpartum issues (I had a list I carried in my head, then transferred to a single sheet of paper), but I figured there were more out there. How to find them?
I contacted Sharon Stein McNamara of Minnesota Women Psychologists and we decided to invite all MWP members -- as well as anybody else we’d heard of who had an interest in perinatal mental health -- to an open house. We saw it as an opportunity for practitioners to meet others who work with issues of pregnancy, birth and postpartum -- and to informally brainstorm how we could make an impact. We also let people know that I was building a resource list and invited them to complete an application (lifted from PSI of Washington, with permission of director Heidi Koss).
I sent out emails and made calls. Of the 100 or so women invited, 8 attended that initial meeting March 7, 2007 at Café Bene in St. Paul. We knew right away that this was not a one-shot meeting. We might be few, but we were passionate about helping women. We talked about PSI, about upcoming events where we might distribute educational information, about building and distributing that resource list. We talked about a website (it took us a few years to manifest that dream)! We wondered what we should call ourselves. We said we’d meet quarterly, and we soon discovered we needed to meet monthly to organize ourselves and develop and work toward our goals.
It took us a while to decide on a name. First we developed our mission statement: To engage parents and professionals in promoting optimal emotional well-being during pregnancy and postpartum period. We tried name after name, hoping to find one that created the perfect acronym. No luck. Not until the middle of 2008 did we become Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota.
So much has happened since then that is described in other parts of this website. Through it all, education, support and linking parents and professionals to resources have been the heart of our work. Some of us who became leaders have been involved since the very beginnings of our organization -- Krista Post, Deb Rich, Maureen Campion, Crystal Clancy, Benita Dieperink. The seeds planted at that first meeting have grown, borne fruit -- and continue to grow.