Hats off to moms
Fundraiser aims to raise awareness about perinatal mood disorders
Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am
As joyous as the experience of becoming a new mother can be, it can also be incredibly overwhelming.
The Edmonton chapter of Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness Ltd. is holding its first fundraising event in St. Albert on January 18 to recognize the stresses that new parents face – including postpartum depression – and help them find ways to get through it.
Event organizer and mother of three, Melissa Baker, knows first hand how difficult it can be to deal with a growing family and how hard it is to ask for help.
“There are a lot of expectations on moms to have a baby and then have it figured out,” she said.
Baker found herself suffering from isolation and anxiety after the births of her youngest two children, 16 months apart. Combined with a move from Cranbook, B.C. to St. Albert and having a lack of family and social supports, Baker felt she had no where to turn.
“I found it very hard to attach to my children, I wanted to detach somehow. I also had a lot of anxiety about leaving my kids with anybody,” she explained. “When it’s just too much to deal with … you can’t deal with anything.”
Dealing came in the form of a glass of wine at the end of the night, noted Baker, but soon it got out of control.
“I really wasn’t able to function. I found it very hard to spend any amount of time with my children unless I was looking forward to drinking at the end of the night. I needed something to look forward to because I just couldn’t attach to them.”
“I was numb to any of my emotions.”
Baker eventually sought medical attention and counselling for her postpartum addiction and trained as a birth and postpartum doula so she could help other women after the birth of their babies. But asking for help wasn’t easy.
“I didn’t want to reach out because I didn’t want to be judged,” she said.
She explained that what people know about perinatal mood disorders, which includes postpartum depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder, is usually negative.
“When moms have taken their kids lives that is very much the most extreme form of it. There can be many variations from having simple anxiety to OCD. It’s all very common but a lot of women don’t understand it and there isn’t a lot of information about it.”
“We get a lot of support when we’re pregnant but not so much afterwards.”
The upcoming event will feature expert speakers – women’s wellness advocates Dr. Jane Carr and psychologist Rita Balanko – to help break down the stigmas associated with perinatal mood disorders and help new parents navigate postpartum resources.
The fundraiser comes on the heels of a new postpartum education and support group funded by Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness Ltd. that began at the St. Albert Family Resource Centre on Jan. 6.
The free support group, which runs on Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m., aims to help individuals and families affected by all types of perinatal mood disorders, whether they are suffering from symptoms, seeking preventative help or interested in learning more.
Baker hopes the fundraising event hosted in partnership with Modern Mama St. Albert, will start a conversation as well as bring people out to the support group.
The event, which will also include a zumba class, silent auction and door prizes, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Salvation Army Church at 165 Liberton Drive.
Advance tickets are $15, available online at www.modernmamastalbert.com or $20 at the door. 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness Ltd. initiatives.