MyWorkplaceHealth Leadership & Workplace Consultant, Susan Jakobsen details an account that caused her to reflect on experiences with postpartum depression.

Susan Jakobson is a Leadership and Workplace Consultant with MyWorkplaceHealth and a Program Consultant for the Standard on Psychological Health and Safety for Post-Secondary Students (PSS Standard). Susan has an extensive background in clinical nursing, workplace mental health, health, safety & wellness, and human resources. She is passionate about supporting people to be their best and happiest.

Winter came early this year to the town of Blue Mountains, Ontario. Although as a skier I look forward to lots of the powdery white stuff, having to fully gear up and wear cleats beginning in mid – November was even a little much for me. Though I have a beautiful hound, Walker, so we adventure out for walks every day, even in the winter.

On one of my geared-up treks recently, I happened upon a figure in the distance trudging along the icy country roads. As I came closer, I realized it was a young woman pushing a stroller. I said hello in a cheery voice, but she trudged on with barely a nod, her tiny bundled baby inside. Her face was sad and looked like she may have been crying. I sighed, thinking back to the exhaustion a new mom feels with the weight of the responsibility of an infant to carry 24/7.

Afterwards, I kept thinking I should have stopped and tried to engage her in a conversation – to offer support and let her know she isn’t alone. But I didn’t.
Seeing this woman got me thinking about my own family. Two of my family members struggled with postpartum depression. Although we didn’t understand much about it in those days, and we didn’t call it postpartum depression. I can recall another family member saying unhelpful and un-informed things, such as: “Why doesn’t she just grow up!”, “How could she not be in love with that beautiful baby?” and “What do you mean, she doesn’t want to breastfeed?” These women who were struggling were both grown up and loved their babies, but were simply too ill to care for them in the way they hoped to. One of these women eventually succumbed to her illness, and the other is happy and healthy, but continues to work through the guilt she feels from those dark and awful times.

I want to believe we live in a kinder, more informed society now. Where women, and their partners, are supported with love, understanding and receive the appropriate treatment when struggling with postpartum depression. So that winters can be brighter for everyone regardless of what they may be struggling with.

Next time I see a sad mom pushing a stroller, I will stop and ask, “How are you doing?” And listen.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with postpartum depression, start by speaking to your family doctor and visiting for additional resources. You can also visit, Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych & Associates or read this blog post on Negatives Emotions Following Childbirth.

To learn more about the PH&S consulting services Susan offers or about other MyWorkplaceHealth service offerings, get in touch!