Let's Talk Real Motherhood: Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders

Let's Talk Real Motherhood: Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders

Jan 25, 2017

Today began a conversation. Wednesday, January 25th is Bell Let's Talk day (#BellLetsTalk), a movement to get more people talking about mental health. The goal is to create a stigma free Canada, after all, the more we talk about and accept something, the more people reach out and get help.

This is wonderful. Mental Health challenges affect EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. If you do not struggle yourself, you are lucky, but it’s a guarantee you have friends or family who do. In fact, 20 percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

While we understand that everyone needs support, we want to take a moment to highlight an issue we see commonly: the Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders. This phrase encompasses everything from prenatal anxiety, to postpartum psychosis and everything in between. Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders affect 50 to 80 percent of birthing Canadians, as high as this is, due to under-reporting it is actually thought to be a low estimate.

Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders are a taboo topic. We still expect everyone to be happy; full of light and sunshine with pregnancy and after having a baby. We expect new parents to be sleep deprived, but also full of joy. We tend to ignore that not only are there huge hormonal changes, but life changes, relationship changes, and physical and emotional changes that go along with this new addition. The whole family needs to transition, often with little support and help.

We live in a social media world; no one posts the truth to Facebook and Instagram. We put our best foot forward, and show our lives as we want them to be. This creates huge, new, and exhausting pressure on new parents to be perfect; have the perfect home, the perfect toys, the perfect balanced meal, the perfect diaper cream, and the perfect school lined up. Everything must be photo ready and #nofilter please. No wonder we have such a high rate of the perinatal mood disorders!

We need to start talking; start showing the truth. Revel in the joys—there will be many, but also do not be afraid to show the darkness. Once the conversation begins, more and more people come out of the shadows. Mothers, fathers, all new families sharing their challenges and how they overcame.

We do not need to suffer in silence, we do not need to live behind a filter. We do not need to be ashamed or afraid.

Yes, #letstalk, let’s get it out there, but not just today. We need to be having this conversation EVERY DAY. We need to be highlighting these struggles and successes. We need to support each other and welcome the words, the conversation, the tears, the laughter, the rants, the pain, the joy.

We’re all in this together, so we may as well talk about it.

#letstalk—today, tomorrow, always. We're here to listen.

Heather is a certified DONA birth and postpartum doula, certified Lamaze childbirth educator, certified breastfeeding educator, as well as a certified Henna artist. She has been an active Calgary doula for the past eight years, is the past-president of the Calgary Doula Association, and was the former provincial representative of Alberta (SPAR) for DONA International. Heather is also a birth doula trainer and the owner of Doula Essentials. She is well-known within the international doula community and greatly respected by the medical providers in the city of Calgary and surrounding areas. She takes great pride supporting her clients through the entire journey.