For Sioux Falls native Hannah Sammons, creator of Eden Space, helping others was something she always wanted to do.
For those navigating pregnancy or struggling with postpartum depression, Eden Space provides an online community where women and their birth partners can be heard and receive help through mindfulness and togetherness.
“My mother grew beautiful gardens,” Sammons said. “So when I think of Eden Space, it’s not so much like the Garden of Eden, necessarily. It’s just a place of abundant, natural beauty, and that’s always how I’ve thought of and perceived motherhood–parenthood, personhood–to be.”
Online resources for postpartum
Sammons' primary background is in nursing. She started off as a birth doula while getting her undergraduate degree at South Dakota State University and then became a nurse on the labor and delivery unit and postpartum units at Sanford.
“I’ve really loved being able to support people through the most transformative part of their life,” said Sammons.
She decided to go back to school and become a nurse-midwife and ultimately received a doctorate in 2018 as a nurse-midwife and women’s health nurse practitioner. She also received two years of training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
“I wanted a career where I could really journey with people,” Sammons said.
Being a midwife has taught her the question of “how can we meet people where they are,” she said. It’s the difference between having a long, deep relationship with people versus the short and intense relationship that occurs with labor and delivery nurses.
While getting her doctorate from the University of Utah, her older sister had her first baby and was struggling severely with postpartum depression, Sammons said, and she realized there needed to be more resources to help those struggling with that.
Thus, Eden Space was born.
Mindfulness as a tool and skill
The LLC was actually established four years ago, but Sammons says she was waiting to decide what she wanted it to become.
Making Eden Space an online community shows how the world can be more connected through the internet, as we saw in particular with the pandemic, but pregnancy and postpartum are still often isolated from societal conversation, said Sammons.
Postpartum depression and mood and anxiety disorders are some of the top complications of births in the U.S. Between 1 in 5 and 1 in 8 women experience it, and birth partners can often also experience anxiety.
Sammons said that while it’s common, it is not normal to not feel like yourself, and people should reach out to their care provider if that is something they’re experiencing.
Some studies indicate that mindfulness is successful at reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression. Sammons said her hope with Eden Space is to provide pregnant people with mindfulness skills that will help reduce their chances of experiencing those symptoms.
“Mindfulness is one of the best tools we have,” she said. “It goes beyond just breathing exercises during labor. I try to give people the skills that will also help them later in life and tools to manage their mind better.”
What Eden Space offers
Sammons said that Eden Space sessions will provide enough time to acknowledge the mental, emotional and financial changes that happen with pregnancy rather than just the physical changes that are addressed during a typical ultrasound visit during pregnancy.
There are “community garden” sessions with a pregnancy group and a postpartum group. Each season is filled with mindful practices and the community sharing of experiences.
Eden Space also offers one-on-one guided counseling and a four-week online childbirth education program for pregnant people and their support partners.
The top three mindful sayings Sammons uses in her counseling are: “As long as you’re breathing, you’re doing everything right,” “One contraction at a time,” and “No need to change a thing.”
Sammons hopes to grow the business in the future to include help for other reproductive issues such as infertility and miscarriage.
“I wanted to create safe spaces for us to come together and honor all the things, good and bad," she said.
Drop-in sessions for the mindfulness garden are $10, and the child-birthing program costs $350, but Sammons said she has scholarships available because she wants everyone to have access.
Staying connected to Sioux Falls
The online factor of the business also means Sammons will be able to reach more people and stay connected with the Sioux Falls community, as she left her job at Sanford a couple weeks ago and moved back to Utah to focus her energy on Eden Space.
To celebrate the shift, Sammons hosted a launch party in Sioux Falls on April 28. There were Sammons' family members, OBGYNs, midwives and previous patients of Sammons and their babies. Sammons said everyone walked away feeling lighter.
“It was such a huge outpouring of love from the community, and a lot of great people came out to support it,” she said. “I am just so excited for the future of Eden Space and seeing the impact it will have.”
More information about Eden Space can be found online.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Eden Space creator provides online support for pregnancy, postpartum