Support for Survivor Moms

One in five women has a history of abuse and neglect in childhood and youth, making them 12 times more likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during pregnancy. PTSD during pregnancy leads to a host of negative outcomes, including lower birth weight. It’s also a strong predictor of cross-generational abuse and psychiatric problems.

“Women have worried about this in the past, but it was taboo to talk about,” said Professor and Associate Dean for Strategic Affairs Julia Seng, Ph.D., CNM, RN, FAAN. “Nobody had applied knowledge from the field of PTSD to childbearing.”

For nearly a decade, Seng has been developing the Survivor Moms’ Companion (SMC) to help new mothers coping with trauma. She and co-developer Mickey Sperlich, Ph.D., MSW, CPM, have made great strides, but as they look to expand the program, they’ve encountered challenges outside their expertise.

SMC is the first evidence-based, traumaspecific intervention created for pregnant women and new moms who have histories of sexual abuse and family violence. In a 10-part workbook, SMC uses weekly lessons to help moms manage emotions, relationships and trauma reactions during and after pregnancy.

Moms then work with trained “tutors,” who coach them through each lesson in person or by phone. Tutors may be nurses, midwives, social workers, childbirth educators, doulas or other skilled service providers.

To grow and sustain the program, SMC has to generate revenue. Agencies can purchase a license, including training, but the cost structure is complicated when trying to fit a variety of maternity care organizations. That’s where HiiP stepped in, providing support with market research, pricing analysis, promotional strategies and more.

“When it came to talking money and how to implement buying a site license, training staff and fitting SMC into their routines, we were stuck,” Seng said. “We had to figure out what to charge for this and how to work with organizations who aren’t used to paying for manualized interventions.”

In November 2019, HiiP helped coordinate an SMC launch event on campus. The three-day program served as an informational training session for providers from across the country who signed up to be early adopters.

“It’s amazing to see how empowering this training is,” said one attendee. “It helps these mothers define themselves and move forward.”

Learn more about the Survivor Moms’ Companion at