We all know that having a baby is challenging. In Peel, 1/5 women will be diagnosed with Postpartum Mood Disorder. For the past 2 years, the staff and volunteers at Spectra’s Peel Postpartum Family Support Line have providing caring support to new and expectant parents. When a new parent calls, they are greeted by a fellow parent, who has been there, but who also has extensive training on how to best support them. About 1 year ago, we started tracking lessons we have learned from our clients to understand best what they felt helped them the most.
Here are some things moms and dads have told us:
• “Don’t treat me like everyone else” Listen with an open mind, which means, at times, suspending the bias of your particular profession or personal beliefs or experiences.
• “Don’t analyze me” Listen to me vs asking too many screening questions (don’t be too clinical).
• “Be honest, will this ever end?” It helps to know that have talked to others in their situation and that they have gotten better. Hope is priceless to someone is the depths of depression!
• “Tell me I’m not the worst mother ever” Feedback on their good mothering. Give specific examples even if they seem insignificant to you. We are here to help mothers have realistic expectations of themselves.
• “Ask me about my life, not just my depression.” Eg Ask baby’s name and age, asking about their birth, they career etc.
• “Tell me what others have done” Sharing stories of other moms who went through something similar and what worked for them.
• “Don’t judge me for choosing or not choosing medication.” Encourage them to make an informed decision by referring to places like Motherisk, or their doctor. Help clients clarify their concerns so they can ask the right questions.
• “Help me figure out how to get help” Helping them organize practical support, rest, self care etc. Help them remember what they enjoy, this will help them heal.
• “Just listen.” Really Listen to what I say, and how I say it!
The most basic thing to remember is to have a conversation with the person on the other end of the line. We might, at times, feel overwhelmed with the client’s situation, and feel a need to “fix” it. Give her time. Let the conversation evolve and it will become clear what will be most helpful to her at this time. She is a person with dreams, wishes, fears etc. who is having a challenging time. Try to put your own agenda aside and deeply listen with an open mind and heart. We might know a lot about Postpartum Mood Disorder, but each person is unique, so take the time to deeply listen.
Remember…“ In the Beginner’s Mind, there are many possibilities, but in the experts mind, there are few. The Beginner’s Mind is the mind of compassion. When our mind is compassionate, the possibilities are boundless” Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.
Some helpful resources include:
The Peel Postpartum Family Support line 905-459-8441 and www.pmdinpeel.ca
Written by: Nelia DeAmaral. Certified Doula, experienced counsellor and prenatal yoga teacher based in Milton, ON and Mississauga, ON. She has worked in the field of women's health for over 14 years. To book a private session contact Nelia at or visit www.birthwithcare.com