One in seven women suffer from postpartum depression.

Kootenay Boundary postpartum support group needs support

Motherwise is a professionally facilitated support group for new moms who may be struggling.

A program that has been helping new moms throughout the area is asking community members for a bit of assistance.

The Motherwise project is a professionally facilitated support group for new moms in Kootenay Boundary communities dealing with mental health challenges relating to childbearing. Last year the project operated on a pilot basis with funding provided by the Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice.

That funding was only good for the first year. So while the Motherwise team is busy looking for other grants that might help fund the program and visiting businesses, they have also set up a crowd-sourced funding account at the YouCaring website that can be found at bitly.com/motherwise.

Statistics show that one in seven women in our communities experiences postpartum depression. The group explained that “left untreated, it can compromise mother-baby attachment, impair the developing baby’s cognition, emotions and behaviours, cause self-medication and/or substance use issues with the mom, as well as deeply impact family relationships.”

Last year the program helped 75 new mothers in dealing with postpartum depression. The eight-week sessions were held in four communities — Grand Forks, Castlegar, Nelson and Trail. Two sessions were held in each city, except Trail, where only one was held.

Tanya Momtazian, a registered midwife from Nelson and one of the program’s coordinators, is really hoping that the program will be able to continue.

“We’ve found a significant number of women that are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and depression in the postpartum period and we just really have nowhere to send them to,” she explained. “It was really recognized as a significant gap in the community for mothers experiencing the transition to new parenthood — this is recognized throughout the region.”

In her role as a midwife, Momtazian has experienced the frustration of that gap in services.

“As a clinician, there is only so much you can do and it is really hard,” she said. “You feel helpless when you can’t send them anywhere.”

The most severe cases can be referred to mental health services through Interior Health, but mild to moderate cases can benefit the most from the groups.

Through Shared Care funding, Motherwise was able to engage a professional evaluator last year who found significant reductions on the depression scale and anxiety scale for women who were attending the groups.

The group is hoping to include a second co-facilitator to each group this year.

“For perinatal mood support staff, it is really helpful to have two because if there is a severe case, they can be taken aside or there can be some individual work done,” explained Momtazian.

If you have any skills that would be a help to the group, they could also use some trained volunteers.

If funding is in place, organizers hope to start the first Motherwise sessions for 2018 in February.

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