After her daughter, now 3 1/2, was born, Amy Rosso “had the postpartum baby blues .. and I got help.” A lot of mothers and dads experience similar post-birth blues, but do not have access to help, or are embarrassed to ask.
Rosso and Kelsi Wilson were co-leaders of the Climb Out of the Darkness walk held Saturday at the Briar Chapel trail and clubhouse to raise awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and to raise money to create more resources for new moms and families across the state. Pospartum Support International and its North Carolina chapter (PSI-NC) sponsored the walk. Chapel Hill was among eight communities in North Carolina participating in the climb, which has been held internationally since 2013. The UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders and the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center of Chapel Hill sponsored the climb.
One in seven mothers face some form of perinatal mood disorder, and one in 10 men, “and that’s just what is reported,” Rosso told the families gathered for the event. Only 15 percent of those families get treatment for depression, Rosso said. She called the climb “a celebration of hope” that would let mothers and dads know that they were not alone.
Rosso runs the Chapel Hill franchise of Fit4Mom, which she started two years ago. The organization offers prenatal classes, yoga, running and other fitness classes for moms. A participant in Saturday’s climb was wearing a Fit4Mom T-shirt with the slogan “Fight Like A Mother.” Fit4Mom is “an organization where we give each other strength in motherhood,” Rosso said. “We create an environment where people feel free to ask for help when they need it.”
The climb was a one-mile walk along the Briar Creek trail. As participants made their way back to the clubhouse, and up a hill, Kim Jeffs, who owns the N.C. Center for Resiliency in Chapel Hill, wrote “Climb!” in green chalk on the asphalt, “You Got This” in pink chalk and “Resilience” in blue.
In her practice, Jeffs said she sees mostly women, but men also can be affected by the changes of becoming a parent, she said. She and her husband have two girls. “I tell my clients I have big skills” because she understands the pressures of being a parent. She and her husband experience the feeling of being overwhelmed, “and my husband and I are trained therapists,” Jeffs said.
With the money from this year’s climb, PSI-NC will provide training for law enforcement and primary health care providers, and reach out to rural and underserved areas. The organization also is creating a statewide list of resources for families suffering from perinatal mood disorders. “What we’re finding is it’s not enough to recognize” perinatal mood disorders, said Nancy Albrecht of the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center. “We have to have resources.” While the Triangle is fortunate to have resources “we need to reach out across the whole state,” Albrecht said.
Katie Jones was walking with her 6-month-old daughter Riley. While she did not suffer from post-partum depression, “there were still things I had to adjust to, and the Birthing Center was there,” she said. She was able to share thoughts with the midwives and other caregivers that she would not have shared with a doctor.
“Moms handle a lot, and it’s hard to do that when you have postpartum depression,” said Corey Rosso, husband of Amy Rosso. Conventional wisdom says that marriage is a 50-50 proposition, but Corey Rosso said, “sometimes it’s 90-10 or 10-90.” Russo said it’s important “for dads to be part of the solution. If you see that mom is depressed, make sure she gets the help she needs.”
“Reaching out is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness,” said Jessica Albrecht, a midwife with the Women’s Birth & Wellness Center.