Hello and Welcome to my blog. I am glad that you are here.

I am a mom who has experienced Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD). I am now a Postpartum Depression Awareness & Support Activist.

I entitled my blog "It Takes A Village" in reference to the African proverb that is so commonly known. I feel very strongly that we as a society have set very high standards and expectations of new mothers to take care of their children on their own, without support or help after the first week or so.

I think we have it backwards: New Mom's need respite and support whether they are well or not. We need support and encouragement, and someone to relieve us so that we can get some sleep and time to rejuvienate.

My aim with this blog is to bring awareness to the world, and support to other Moms (and possibly Dads) that are going through this experience. I am passionate about reducing stigma as it creates the barrier that keeps women silent and suffering. I want Moms to feel safe enough to share their story and get the support and help they need to get better.

I encourage you, if you believe you may be experiencing more than the "baby blues" to seek out help. You will not be judged or criticized. The goal of all list here on this blog are to support you and help you heal so that you may live the life you dreamed of with your child.

This blog is a work in progress, please check in often to see more updates and new information!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What is Wrong with this Picture?

I have postpartum anxiety. Can you tell? 

Support Programs in York Region

Transition to Parenting - through York Region Public Health:
York Region Public Health Nurses provide a 12 week Transition to Parenting education and support program for postpartum and pregnant women. Women experiencing Perinatal Mood Disorders, anxiety and depression or needing support with the adjustment to parenthood would benefit from this program.

 Transition to Parenting Locations:

40 Washington St Markham
Fridays from 10:00am to 12:00pm
Contact Health Connection for dates

Richmond Hill
Oakridge's Ontario Early Years Centre
10610 Bayview Avenue, Unit 9, Richmond Hill
Tuesdays 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Contact Health Connection for dates

Ontario Early Years Centre
17310 Yonge Street, Unit 6,
Thursdays 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Contact Health Connection for dates

The topics to be covered will include:Symptoms and Risk Factors Of Perinatal Mood Disorder
Parenting Expectations
Self Esteem
Relationships after Baby
Understanding Your Emotions
Mind and Body Connection
Rest and Wellness
Building Resiliency in Families

This program is available at no cost to participants

To register for this program:
Please contact the Health Connection Line at: 1-800-361-5653 or Email hc@york.ca with your name and phone number stating your interest in the Transition to Parenting Program and a Public Health Nurse will call you back.

It's Time to Turn up the Volume on PPMD Awareness!

Picture credit to www.imperfectwomen.com 

There is a need here that must be met. From the moment I learned that some of the ladies in my support group had no respite help, nor knew how to get resources, a passion bloomed in me so fierce that I could not just sit still with it. 

That was the beginning of this blog. I did all I could to get resources and information out there and then I let it coast. I got caught up in life, but my desire to help didn't end there. I learned that the region in which I lived was looking for "PPMD Moms" to be peer volunteers for awareness and stigma removal for PostPartum Mood Disorder. I joined. 

I have been a peer volunteer for three years and just signed up for my fourth, but it is not enough. Not for me. A few months ago, something shifted in me that amped up my passion into full throttle. I still am not sure what that was. I think that it just might be that my heart is finally aligned – in the right place.

Out of my passion for getting respite for these women -who are in need of desperate help, an idea began to take form: I would create a centre that would have therapists, resources, workshops, a daycare, a café and respite workers on call. I planned it all and wrote it all down. My Big Juicy Dream.

Of course, it is a big dream that requires a big budget. I was so excited that I shared my idea with friends and family some of the peer volunteers during our recognition dinner last month. One comment mentioned from a fellow volunteer stuck in my mind: She suggested that I don’t limit myself to one geographic area because I would not be able to reach everyone that would need reaching. It was a great suggestion. I could start now, outsourcing trained respite workers in postpartum mood disorder to PPMD mom’s in need of sleep, the most important self-care need for progressive healing. I did not need the facility. Yet.

And then, a few days later, self-doubt hit me: Whack! And all of a sudden, all of my in-the-creative-flow-heart-energy just sizzled away.  How was I going to accomplish this? How could I do this? I had no start-up funds, no idea how to go ahead with it, I had no experience and definitely didn’t feel qualified to take on such an endeavor.  My time was already split raising my son and helping support our family.  My heart sunk low. How could this feel so right and have so many roadblocks?

For two weeks, my heart stayed derailed. I had also considered going to school and getting my SSW to make my foundation stronger; backing it with education and experience. That did not pan out. (Not yet anyway ;))

During this time, activity in the postpartum awareness area had increased in my life:

 A friend of mine Patricia Tomasi,( kickassdreams.com) whom I met through this blog two years ago, told me about a panel that was being put together that would be broadcast live at the U of T and would include a prominent Canadian celebrity who had experienced PPMD.  “Whoo Hoo! I shouted. This was great!” I was so excited at all these amazing steps that were being taken. The woman who organized the panel was Claire Zlobin, founder of “Life with a Baby” (www.lifewithababy.com)

“The Life with a Baby peer support system is a project of Healthy Start, Healthy Future, a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to provide ongoing practical and emotional PEER-based support for new and expecting parents, and parents of children up to the age of six.”

It was a great event. I met Ms. Zlobin who gave me my first clue on getting started. I then met a passionate man named Ed Bader (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/edward-bader/2b/8b2/103) who has his hand in getting dads help they need and who loves the research so much he may not retire!   (And, YES, dads can get postpartum depression too) I will be getting in touch with him when the time is right.

These were the signs showing me that help was out there. My self-doubt cooled down a bit. I still felt overwhelmed and frustrated because I knew what I wanted to do, and some of what I needed to do, but I didn’t know how to do any of it. My slump was less of a slump but it was still dragging me down.

I let the dream slide, my heart dull and confused on how it was all going to work and I fell back into my normal life.

Until yesterday. Well, I can say that the powers that be are not giving up on me, because they jump-started my heart and said “you are not getting off so easy!” Read on:

I saw a message from a friend I met just recently, also a mom with PPMD, that expressed she wasn’t doing so well. I immediately sent her a message. We spoke on the phone and I heard her story. She was at a late crisis point in her life because she has had no one around her that understood PPMD, and she was being the mom she thought she should be: strong and perfect. My biggest concern was that she has had no respite for the last two and a half years. (Her second child is fourteen months old) She is experiencing social isolation and needs understanding peers around her and someone to come in to her home and give her a much needed break when her husband is at work and she is alone. This is crucial for her recovery.  (There is much more to the story for it to be understood, so please see the plea between the lines and refrain from jumping to judgement – not that any of my readers wouldJ)

After getting off the phone with her, I was stumped.  Where do I find resources for her area? How do we get her respite? RESPITE! That is right. R-E-S-P-I-T-E. There are no respite services in her area. In fact, I haven’t found one active respite service for Postpartum Mood Disorder affected Moms ANYWHERE in Ontario!  ( I do know that there are other services out there because friends of mine have used them for respite and they usually come from social services. Don't quote me, but correct me if I am wrong. I want to be in the know.) 

I checked in with Life with a Baby first to see if there was a  support group in her area: unfortunately, not yet.  Then I went online to search out support groups. I found one! That was a bonus. The downside is that my friend does not have a car, so that will have to be figured out next. Now back to the hard part: getting help in so she could rest.

A lot of thinking and researching later, I found a respite service for seniors, but I am afraid that a nurse or a person trained in postpartum awareness and support  would be needed as well as being trained in infant and toddler care.(or another recovered PPMD Mom) So I am looking for ECE’s (Early Childhood Educators) who are trained in Postpartum Awareness and want to be a respite worker. Sorry, none out there---yet! (I am being cheeky)
 (I also checked on the Municipality’s website and found only parenting and breastfeeding classes- just the basics).

The Ontario Early Years Centre in her area was one of the first options I suggested, but not having a car and more so is the fact that her eldest child is allergic to almost every food group out there, it is quite stressful to take her child out anywhere.

 Not all PPMD Moms have the same challenges, obviously, so taking your children to an OEYC is a good choice, and even better if they have a support group on site. This way you get free babysitting while you are in the group getting the much needed peer to peer support.  (Not all PPMD Moms attend groups, it is a personal choice).

And so, here I am, fired up, stomping my feet, shaking my fist in the air, frustrated that I cannot find or get a respite/relief worker to aid my friend.

And then, my friend Patricia sends me a text which gives me more confirmation: In Australia the government provides respite services to a variety of needs....including new MOMS who need sleep!

“Each Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centre has extensive regional networks and maintains a comprehensive database containing community aged care, disability and other support services. Shopfronts are operated by organisations that already provide established services within their region. Their extensive local knowledge ensures they provide a quality service. This regional focus enables each Centre to develop an awareness of the entire range of services available, to establish networks with local providers and ensure information is up to date.
Examples of respite care assistance include in-home respite care; support workers to assist you when you are taking a break away from home; and residential respite care.”  http://www9.health.gov.au/ccsd/index.cfm#1

Wow!! That is amazing!!!

I can hear the engines revving up....where there is a WILL there is a WAY, and I WILL make the WAY happen!

P.S. I did research www.respiteservices.com , a website sponsored by the government of Ontario:
“respiteservices.com coordinates a network of agencies, located across the province of Ontario, funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to provide respite services to families and individuals with disabilities. Host agencies are collaborating to develop a coherent process to ease access to services and information for both children and adults in local communities and across Ontario.”

(I looked for any mention of help for postpartum depressed moms needing respite, but the common words that popped up were respite for people/children with a disability or seniors.)

As I said, there is a need here that must be met. I am going to make sure that happens. 

Lisa Molinelli
Postpartum Mood Disorder Awareness and Support Activist

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hopes High for first ever Canadian Study on mindfulness meditation and postpartum depression

Hopes high for first Canadian study on mindfulness meditation and postpartum depression

Claire Zlobin started her own peer support network after suffering from post partum depression.
Published: May 10, 2013, 11:33 am
Updated: 3 days ago
Claire Zlobin knew something was amiss. After giving birth to her daughter, she found herself often crying, lonely and depressed. When she tried to reach out to other moms in her community facing the same struggles, she became frustrated at the lack of peer support programs available to connect moms experiencing post-partum depression. So she started one of her own.
The not-for-profit Life With a Baby peer support program recently celebrated its five-year anniversary and its workshops and programs are so high in demand by moms – and dads – that Zlobin plans to expand chapters right across Canada.
“Moms need other moms and dads need other dads,” said Zlobin. “We were never meant to parent in silos. The first step in happy, healthy child development is happy, healthy parents. It’s my goal to reduce social isolation and connect parents nationally.”
Claire Zlobin, founder of Life With a Baby, with her newborn.
Claire Zlobin, founder of Life With a Baby, with her newborn.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the Best Start Maternal Newborn Centre, social isolation is a risk factor contributing to post partum  depression.
In a panel discussion Wednesday evening titled “Post Partum Depression: Are we Doing Enough?” Zlobin shared her views alongside Canadian singer-songwriter Amy Sky and prominent perinatal physician and researcher Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis who’s peer support study revealed programs such asLife With a Baby reduce the prevalence of post partum mood disorder in women by 50%.
“We had to do this very large trial to validate this simple intervention of creating a support network for new moms,” said Dr. Dennis. “I’m contacted by professionals around the world who want to implement this intervention.”
From left to right: Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis, Hiltrud Dawson, Amy Sky, Claire Zlobin, and Patricia Tomasi at the panel discussion, "Post Partum Depression: Are we Doing Enough" May 8, 2013.
From left to right: Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis, Hiltrud Dawson, Amy Sky, Claire Zlobin, and Patricia Tomasi at the panel discussion, “Post Partum Depression: Are we Doing Enough” May 8, 2013.
(Watch a replay of the live panel here)
Other risk factors include stress and hormonal imbalances which a handful of U.S. and one Australian study have shown meditation and other mind-body interventions such as yoga and Qigong to be effective treatment options in the prevention of post partum depression and anxiety. Nearly 18% of pregnant women are depressed during pregnancy.
A 2008 study by Dr. Cassandra Vieten from the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute looked at the effects of mindfulness meditation and Hatha Yoga on prenatal stress and mood and demonstrated a 20-25% reduction in stress levels and anxiety in pregnant women.
About to be released are the details of a study by Dr. Sona Dimidjian from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado showing the “favourable” results of a first-ever study done on at-risk pregnant women who continued a meditation and yoga practice into the post partum period.
During the panel, Dr. Dennis announced plans for Canada’s own study on mind-body interventions in the prevention and treatment of post partum depression. A”very large” grant request is being sent to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in September.
The study is to be spearheaded by Dr. Dennis and world-renown Canadian meditation expert Dr. Zindel Segal, a cognitive psychologist and depression specialist at CAMH.  Dr. Segal is one of the founders of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and has already shown meditation to be as effective as antidepressant medication in preventing a depression relapse.
“For women at risk, it’s definitely of value (meditation),” said Dr. Segal. “It’s a non-pharmacological means of prevention and should be offered in addition to other parenting classes and skills.”
Dr. Zindel Segal, one of the founders of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and Cameron Wilson Chair in Depression Studies at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Zindel Segal, one of the founders of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and Cameron Wilson Chair in Depression Studies at the University of Toronto.
If left untreated, pregnant women who are depressed have a 50% chance of relapsing post partum, a time Sky, who spoke candidly about her own battle with post partum mood disorder calls the “fourth trimester.”
“When your brain goes to that place, I believe you’re always at risk to go to that place,” said Sky. “Some need pills but everyone needs skills to stay mentally resilient.”
“Meditation assisted me in easing my post partum anxiety,” said actor and playwright Rebecca Buttigieg. “It encouraged me to focus on stillness, breathing and to calm down.”
“I practiced journaling, had counseling and experimented with a variety of healers in iridology,  acupuncture,  kinesiology, EFT, and hypnosis,” said Lisa Molinelli who suffered from post partum depression after the birth of her son. “These methods helped me change my belief patterns surrounding my self-worth and accept myself for who I am.” Molinelli went on to train in hypnotherapy following her experience.
“Reiki was the complementary therapy that saved me from post partum depression,” said Geneviève Bailey, mom of two who became a Reiki master to help other moms.
“I put my sadness and numb feelings down to the disappointment in the birth as well as the pain medications I received after my C-section,” said Nicole Meltzer of Balanced Body Mind Spirit. “I started working on the associated chakras (root, sacral and heart), receiving Reiki and other energy treatments, meditating and did hypnosis to deal with the emotions that came up. Almost immediately I noticed that I was connecting better with my son and husband. Post partum depression ended up being the biggest gift for helping me define what and who I wanted in life.”
Hopes High for first ever Canadian Study on mindfulness meditation and postpartum depression