Erices: 1 in 7 Colorado women experience pregnancy-related depression and anxiety; how can we help? (column)
I remember the celebration of Mother’s Day at my grandparents’ house growing up. Four generations gathered to celebrate grandma, mother, aunts, cousins and even the little ones who would take care of their dolls as if they were their children. In my Hispanic culture, mothers are adored and appreciated as a source of nourishment for the soul and the body. They are also recognized as a source of wisdom and experience that listens and gives advice with generosity and dedication to whomever might need it.
Recently, my family, and many other families around the nation, gathered to celebrate motherhood. For many mothers, it might have been a joyous celebration of their role as the support of the family, and for others, it might have been a day of sadness and emptiness, especially for those who suffer from pregnancy-related depression and anxiety and are feeling the emptiness of not being able to be the mother they want to be.
Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are common. In fact, one in seven women in Colorado suffer from pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, making it the most common complication of pregnancy. There are many reasons for pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. They are biological and social conditions that can affect anyone.
Thankfully, with support and resources from family, friends and professionals, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are highly treatable. So why wait an entire year to show the mothers in our lives the appreciation and support they deserve?
Let’s express our affection every day with small gestures: a hug, taking care of the baby so she can go out for a walk, listening attentively without interrupting her, taking responsibility for chores at home — not just to be helpful, but because we recognize that taking care of a baby is a full-time job and that the chores at home should be shared. Let’s be there for mothers the other 364 days a year.
If a new mother in your life seems irritable, stressed, anxious or tearful, then please share with her the information about Postpartum Support International, where mothers and their families can find information and support to get help and to cope with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. Visit http://www.postpartum.net/colorado or encourage her to call 800-944-4773 (se habla espanol) for confidential and free support.
Let’s celebrate the mothers in our lives all year long. Let’s work together to make our families healthier through a more authentic commitment, so our future is full of many generations of healthy and strong mothers who keep our community together.
Paulina Erices is a maternal child health specialist with Jefferson County Public Health working in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.