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Moms helping moms Kanata woman tackles postpartum depression Jessica Cunha jessica.cunha@metroland.com

News - Natasha Rose was feeling extremely anxious, fatigued and overwhelmed after the birth of her second child. “I ended up having a really bad, what I’d call, a panic attack. I didn’t know what was happening to me,” she said. “It was the most paralyzing and debilitating thing I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of my two children.” Mother to Shea, 3, and Camille, nine months, a visit to the doctor confirmed that Rose was experiencing severe postpartum anxiety, a form of postpartum depression. “I’d never felt depressed before,” said the Kanata woman. But she wasn’t able to take part in any of her dayto-day activities. She said she was lucky she has a supportive husband, Kurtis, who helped her through. Although hospitals give new moms a package of information, there’s almost nothing mentioned about postpartum depression – nurses only give a verbal warning, Rose said, adding that although public health nurses call one week after the birth, that’s too soon. One of the biggest misconceptions about postpartum depression is that it happens right away, she said, but symptoms can take weeks or

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months to show. Rose, who works in the developmental and services worker program at Algonquin College, began researching postpartum depression online, asking questions on social message boards and talking with other mothers. “What I realized in my own personal search is that it’s difficult to find and access resources,” she said. “When you feel that bad it can be difficult to advocate for yourself.

There is hope. In the darkness, there is light. NATASHA ROSE

“These women helped me, they gave me strength.” As she struggled to find solutions that worked for her, an idea popped into her head. She created a Facebook group – Moms Helping Moms with Postpartum Depression – in August to be an online social community of support where people can ask questions and find resources. She shared her own story in the hope that it could help others. “For me, the major (hurdle) was saying ‘I’m not OK’ and asking for help,” she said.

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With a background in education, Rose’s goal is to raise awareness about postpartum depression and help erase the stigma attached to the diagnosis. In talking with others, she’s heard more than a few mothers say they were scared to go to the hospital and seek help because they thought their children would be taken away from them. But getting help is the most important thing a mother can do, said Rose. “Find someone you trust so you can say ‘Look, I don’t

feel well.’” There are various levels of postpartum depression (courtesy of postpartum.net), which include: • Postpartum depression: feelings of anger, sadness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, inability to concentrate or thoughts of self-harming or hurting the baby. • Postpartum anxiety: feelings of losing control, extreme worries and fears, panic attacks, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, numbness and tingling. • Postpartum obsessivecompulsive disorder: repetitive, upsetting and unwanted thoughts or mental images, feel the need to do things over and over to reduce anxiety. • Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder: often caused by a traumatic or

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tum depression. “We all just really connected; everyone was really open with sharing stories,” said Perlin. “One woman told Natasha that she saved her life. Hearing that definitely made all the effort totally worth it.”

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“You think people will think and wonder what’s wrong with you. “I felt like if I became transparent it would help other women.” From there, it just took off, she said. She created a webpage and hosted a get together with other mothers. She said she wants to create a free “one-stop shop” for mothers with postpartum depression, with links to resources, articles and suggestions about what helped her. “You can go to one place and find most of what you’re looking for,” she said. “From there it became my mission and my goal.” She said she doesn’t give advice, but options. “The response has been overwhelming,” Rose said. “People are coming forward to share their stories.” Jen Perlin, founder of the website kidsinkanata.com, helped host the get together late last year. The two have been friends since their sons were born on the same day. “When she told me that she had postpartum depression after having her daughter I was really surprised. I didn’t know anything was going on,” said Perlin. “She started the Facebook group and when I saw how quickly it was growing … I thought, ‘She found a need.’ “When I learned more of the frustrations that she went through I was really blown away at the lack of resources. There’s definitely a gap. Hopefully this can start filling the gap.” The first event went really well, said Perlin. Around eight women showed up and began sharing their stories about dealing with postpar-

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frightening childbirth, symptoms can include flashbacks of the trauma and feelings of anxiety, the need to avoid things related to the event. • Postpartum psychosis: can include hallucinations, believing things that aren’t true, mistrusting others, periods of confusion and memory loss. This is a severe and dangerous condition and anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate help. “We can’t do everything. We all need a little bit of help sometimes,” said Rose. “My new motto is ‘Just ask.’ I’m not afraid anymore. “It doesn’t last forever. There is hope,” she added. “In the darkness, there is light.” For more information, visit Rose’s webpage at www. momshelpingmoms.ca or search Facebook for Moms Helping Moms with Postpartum Depression.

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