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Fitness class offers child care solution, community to parents

postpartum depression yoga
Posted at 11:36 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-17 09:38:36-05

MERRIAM, Kan. — The days, weeks and months after having a child are a joyful time for new parents, but they can also be extremely stressful. The struggle to find child care only adds to that stress.

A recent study found lack of child care was associated with a higher risk for postpartum depression or anxiety.

In Merriam, Kansas, one mom is helping other parents tackle both postpartum depression and child care struggles.

Jenna Fujii founded "Fit Mama by Fujii" around a year ago to help other moms like her.

"I struggled really hard with postpartum anxiety, depression and isolation," Fujii said.

After having her son, Fujii initially considered going back to work.

"The stress of not being able to find child care and the affordability of it is the reason why I stayed home," she explained.

But Fujii still needed a way to get out of the house and connect with other parents. So, she started a workout class where kids are welcome.

"Our moms bring their kids with them. So you don't have to take them to daycare. You don't have to take them to childcare," she said. "Our moms feed during class, they change diapers during class, they hold babies during class, are able to meet all the needs of our kids, while also taking care of our mental health and physical health."

The class has been a life-saver for parents like Kasey Hammeke, who suffered from borderline postpartum psychosis after having her daughter last year.

"I had suicidal and homicidal thoughts regularly, like every day I woke up with those, every night I went to bed with them. And it was really scary," Hammeke said. "It's like picturing the worst that could happen over and over and over again in your brain."

She said coming to the workout class has given her a purpose and made her a better mom to her son and daughter.

"We've now made movement and physical activity a priority in our house," Fujii said. "And so to have them here to watch the difference in mommy from when I am here and when I'm not is really cool."

Fujii said she wants the class to be a comfortable and welcoming place for everyone.

"There's no judgment here at all," she said. "And that's the biggest feedback we get from our moms is like, 'Wow, you guys are so welcoming. Like I didn't feel judged at all. It was amazing.' And that's why people keep coming back."

Both Fujii and Hammeke said they hope talking about postpartum struggles openly will help other parents see they're not alone.

"It's nice to be in a community where everybody feels the same way. It's like a solidarity, I guess," Hammeke said.

"One of the biggest things is finding community, getting outside in nature and working out," Fujii added. "All of those things help combat postpartum depression, anxiety and isolation. And that's exactly why we exist...I'm just happy and honored that I have a space like this to offer to people, and I hope everybody that needs us, finds us."

Fit Mama by Fujii offers three classes: Stroller FIT, Mama & Me Newborns and Bootcamp. Interested parents can sign up on the Fit Mama by Fujii website.