PPPSS News & Events

A Blog About Postpartum Mood Disorders

Pacific Post Partum Support Society

Pacific Post Partum Support Society is dedicated to helping mothers, and their families, cope with symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. The model we were built upon, when we began as an informal gathering more than 40 years ago, is one of mothers supporting mothers. We carry on this tradition today in our programming; we believe that a woman suffering from a postpartum mood disorder can benefit from sharing her experiences with another woman who has or is travelling on a similar journey. We offer groups and telephone support to women in need, and education, information and guidance to the community through workshops.

We believe that postpartum depression is a problem with many dimensions and effects. We hope to empower women to drive their own recovery, by breaking the isolation that many new mothers experience, by understanding what is contributing to their postpartum difficulties and by learning about self care.

This blog is new for us, and we hope it is a space you visit often. Our aim in posting information here is to keep you informed of the issues surrounding postpartum mood disorders including the latest research. It is also to foster a great sense of community amongst those we support or have supported in the past, members of our staff and board, as well as stakeholders and leaders in the healthcare sector. A community is built upon shared stories, and here we want to craft the stories that affect you, impact your life and further the conversation around how best to help women cope with the huge adjustment to motherhood. We will post on topics like frequently asked questions, research, self-care tips and more. We strive to be a leading resource guiding women, their caregivers and loved ones through the strife of maternal mental illness.

To help us stay relevant and supportive of your needs, please provide us with feedback. And help us to spread the word about what helps parents during a difficult postpartum adjustment, including depression and anxiety by posting our content to your social media profiles.

 

Thank you!

 

The Staff and Volunteers of Pacific Post Partum Support Society

New Findings on Postpartum Depression & Our Response

Response to Findings on Postpartum Depression - postpartum.org

Recently, The New York Times published an article on Postpartum Depression entitled,‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ New Findings on Timing and Range of Maternal Mental Illness. The article takes a look at Postpartum Mood Disorders in light of recent research that has changed the scope of the inquiry. It is now found that many women suffer from mental illness during pregnancy, as well as during the first year postpartum. The article also reports that the range of disorders women experience is also broader than previously thought. Women can experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Psychosis and Bi-Polar Disorder.

This is an excellent article about Postpartum Mood Disorders and it highlights the fact that the onset is often during pregnancy. The stories highlighted in the article talk about intrusive thoughts, as well as more serious symptoms of postpartum psychosis.

We feel it is important to note the following, Postpartum Psychosis is different from having “intrusive thoughts.” Intrusive thoughts are a common symptom experienced by women dealing with Postpartum Depression/Anxiety and are often associated with anxiety, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Mothers are extremely unlikely to act on these thoughts. They are disturbed and upset at the nature of these thoughts, and could never imagine hurting their children. They are horrified and ashamed, and are scared to share these thoughts with others as a result.

Although the risk of Psychosis is low, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Women who experience Psychosis, as distinct from those who suffer from Postpartum Anxiety or Depression, lose touch with reality; they see and hear things that aren’t there. This website is a great resource for families dealing with psychosis.

Helpless—A Father’s Perspective on Postpartum Depression

A Father's Perspective on PPD

Helpless.

It’s one feeling that always comes back to me when I think about the period when my wife was suffering from Postpartum Depression.

At the time, I had no clue that my wife was in the throes of PPD. Pretty much all that registered in my mind was that neither of us were sleeping, due to our otherwise angelic daughter waking up practically every hour at night. That, and the fact I had to get through another day of work.

I felt awful for feeling it at the time, but work became an escape from what was becoming a daily grind at home. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, after all? Despite drifting through my shifts at work, operating in a fog barely lifted by caffeine, my heart would sink a little when I boarded the bus home.

I’d watched my wife turn from a strong, confident, understanding woman into a browbeaten bundle of frayed nerves. A mother who loved her child more than anything else in the world but would scream at her in the middle of the night, following the eighth wakeup. Occasionally I would awaken in the spare room – to where I had been banished to grab a few hours of precious sleep before the alarm went off again – to hear my wife sobbing across the hallway. Sometimes I went through to check on them both. And sometimes I didn’t, realizing I could do little to help. Helplessness.

I felt like my wife was shutting herself off from me. She seemed to feel as if it was her duty alone to cure our sleep woes, her job as the mother. My attempts to help were often rejected with a “No, it’s fine. I can manage.” A lot of the time I was too exhausted myself to argue. I tried as often as I could to take our daughter out on my own to give my wife a break. One time I secretly booked a night in a bed & breakfast for my wife. I practically had to order her out of the house.

I tried to remain objective. I tried to remain understanding. I tried to let all the irrationalities of what I just believed was sleep deprivation wash off me. It was hard. Bottling your own feelings up is never a good thing.

Having an outlet helped. You find out who your real friends are when you can just unload on them. Still, you feel a little guilty burdening them with so much of your negativity. In reflection, a confidential helpline seems like a no-brainer. If only I’d known at the time.

My wife did occasionally thank me for my support, and that helped too. I told her as often as I could that she was doing a great job raising an amazing girl. Because she was. We both were. Our daughter was happy, healthy and cute beyond belief.

And things did improve, slowly. Our daughter began sleeping better. We moved house, closer to my work, closer to friends. We felt more connected again, to the outside world and to each other. The fog of helplessness was lifting and we could see the way forward.

Jan Zeschky is a journalist and father who lives in Burnaby.

*If you are a partner of someone suffering from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, know that there is support for you and your family. Please contact us if you need assistance.

Thank you to all of the Dads who support our women in getting strong, and healthy. Happy Father’s Day.

Overcoming Isolation’s Grasp

The first year of a child’s life can be an isolating time for mothers. Most of your time (if not all) is devoted to nurturing. It can be extremely challenging to take care of even basic needs such as brushing teeth, showering, or even just using the bathroom. Thinking about doing something like leaving the house, which likely was a simple, everyday occurrence prior to having a baby, can seem completely overwhelming.

The energy that it takes to leave the house can seem like an impossible barrier. However, always listening to thoughts such as “it’s just easier to stay home” or “I’m too tired to leave the house” may only feed into the isolation many new mothers experience. So what can one do?iStock_000007693799_Medium

Approach the situation by starting small. Instead of staying at home, ask your partner, mother, or friend to go for a walk around the block. Either have them help you get ready to come with you on your walk or ask them to stay home with baby while you go.  It can help to first aim for a short walk, for just 5 minutes. Any degree of exercising will also help you improve the sleep that you do manage to get. Or pair a “for pleasure outing” when you already have an obligation like a doctor’s appointment. When you have to leave the house anyways, that takes away the largest barrier. The park, mall, library or the local community centre can be good places to go with a small baby. Notice how different you feel after allowing yourself to breathe fresh air and socialize. Although it may seem small, these small things can be really helpful. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for your success, no matter how small.  It’s easy to forget that part of being a successful nurturer is making time to be nurtured as well.

Finally, if something gets in your way, as it so often does, be kind to yourself. Criticizing yourself may worsen your mood and give way to more isolation. Take a deep breath, tell yourself “it’s ok”, and make a new attainable plan.

–Rosemary

We’re updating our training materials!

Over the past several months, staff at PPPSS have been busy brainstorming how to update our training programs. As part of this effort, staff and volunteer mothers devoted an entire day to filming mock support group sessions. The videos will be used to supplement our instruction on the unique way PPPSS supports men and women experiencing emotional challenges during pregnancy and as a parents of young children. Facilitators are excited for this new addition and plan to make use of these new materials in our upcoming April 2014 training. Stay tuned for other ways PPPSS is using media to augment our services.

Call or email to inquire about how seeking training from PPPSS will benefit your organization.

–Pacific Post Partum Support Society