NCPHC recently held a scholarship contest which provided the winner the opportunity to attend the Perinatal Mental Health Postpartum International Training in April 2018. Congrats to our winner: Elizabeth Weidner of the HOPE Women and Family Support team! Below is her winning entry.
1. Why is perinatal mood disorder awareness important?
While having a child is an exciting event in a woman’s life, it also brings a great deal of pressure, stress, and anxiety, as her hormones fluctuate in different directions during her pregnancy and postpartum, or fourth trimester, period. Though this is a normal occurrence in the biological system, a new mother may not have the ability to identify and control such swings and handle a crying or colicky newborn at the same time. Identifying and preparing for this during this period in the mother and the newborn’s life can help to make things go easier. Support is key in aiding the mother in both nursing and caring for the baby. Many women have no idea to what degree her emotions will change within a day or a few hours and being coached through this by someone who knows and is trained is key as this condition can and does impact her ability to care for her newborn and affects how she is able to nurse and provide the nutrition the baby needs. This can cause a domino effect of added stress of being a failure at being a mother and as a human being! Is there support for the mother during this time? She needs help through this initial period of parenthood, does she have it within the family? If not, this can have a detrimental impact on both the mother and child, along with the entire family. Confusion, depression, loss of control of her emotions are all conditions that need sensitive and caring support from a trained doula that understands the condition and can be an invaluable coach. Good nutrition, rest, exercise, and educating the mother ahead of the birth can also help her to understand and prepare for crazy times during the fourth trimester.
2. Describe your interest/experience in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD).
My interest in this situation is from personal experience with postpartum depression with 2 of my three children. It is a dark and scary time for the mother compound the hormone fluctuation and mood swings, depression, this can cause havoc in this delicate time in an infant’s life. I had a very supportive husband, but he was not aware of the hormonal changes that occurred, he also was not able to coach me through these bouts and we both ended up with real struggles in getting along and maintaining peace within the home for all family members. Nursing was a struggle and at times failure, nights were long, and tempers were short. By my third child, my husband and I became a team to be reckoned with, but there was a learning curve. Depression and emotions are very difficult to control at times.
3. How you will use this information in your daily work?
As a team member with the new organization in Greenville, NC called, HOPE, Women and Family support, I will be a postpartum doula for new mothers in Pitt County when needed. I will also be working with the others in HOPE with information and public awareness of this crucial time in a family and the service we will be providing for the families in Pitt County and surrounding areas. The information that I wish to obtain from this two-day postpartum certificate program will enable me to be a supportive coach and doula for new mothers and the next generation to come.