Claude Awad and Julie Martel waited 13 years to have their third child, hoping to avoid a second run-in with postpartum depression.
But things didn’t go as planned.
Dalia was born July 6 weighing 6.5 lbs.
Awad said everything was going well at first but the stresses continued to build.
“The symptoms are hard to spot and it is kind of strange cause they are all little problems that you can solve fairly easily,” Awad said.
“But when the person is too stressed everything seems insurmountable and by the time they make a plan to help out, a couple hours after the plan is changing already and you can’t keep up with it.”
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that a mother can experience within the first year after having a baby.
HealthLink BC says a woman who has postpartum depression may:
• feel very sad, hopeless, empty, anxious
• lose pleasure in everyday things
• not feel hungry, lose weight (though it may be the opposite for others)
• have trouble sleeping
• not be able to concentrate
• have trouble caring for and bonding with their baby
Awad said Martel recognized the symptoms in herself and agreed to go to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, where she is right now (Sept. 14). She has agreed to share this story and preferred Awad speak on her behalf.
Awad said she judges herself harshly for having to be away from the baby.
“You wouldn’t blame yourself for not being able to participate if you had like two broken legs or something, but if it is a mental issue people don’t treat it that way,” he said.
|Julie Martel, walking the family goats a few weeks before giving birth. (Submitted/Revelstoke Review)|
He is confident, with support and proper care she will return home in a month or so.
After giving birth to their second child 13 years ago, Martel went to the hospital to be treated for depression, in Canmore, which was where they lived at the time.
People don’t see it coming, Awad said.
Martel went from happy go lucky and enthusiastic to dark and suicidal within a few weeks. Without proper supervision, she asked to go outside for some sunshine and ran away from the hospital, attempting suicide before she was found a week later.
Since then, Awad said she did a lot of work on herself both physically and mentally and had gotten off all medication.
“She was really, really healthy,” he said.
“We didn’t expect to go down that road again.”
Though many women experience baby blues within the first few days after childbirth because of hormonal changes, the symptoms ease up in less than two weeks, whereas postpartum depression can continue for years.
The Canadian Mental Health association reports eight to 12 per cent of mothers experience postpartum depression.
Factors that put women at higher risk include:
• history of mental health problems
• hormonal changes
• sleep deprivation
• recent stressful life events
• lack of support
• experience of abuse or violence
• social inequalities like poor housing or inadequate income
• medical complications for you or your baby
Though there isn’t yet research on the subject, Dr. Andreas Mostert, with the Selkirk Medical Group, says COVID-19 restrictions could potentially contribute to postpartum depression.
“We know in general, not just for postpartum depression but for mental health, social contact is a significant factor in prevention and in treatment,” he said.
Awad said he and his family have been more isolated than they usually would be because of the pandemic, noting Martel likely would have networked with other moms had the situation been different.
Awad has quit his job to be at home full-time with Dalia.
After receiving offers, he has asked the community for donations of breast milk, saying Dalia enjoys it much more than formula. He can be contacted through Facebook.
Diego and Esteban, Dalia’s big brothers, have been a big help, Awad said, making perfect bottles after having learned from taking care of lambs earlier this year.
Find more information or assistance at:
• Revelstoke Public Health-250-814-2244
• Selkirk Medical Group-250-837-9321
• Dr. Lora Cruise Medical Clinic-250-837-7997
• UBC- parlab.med.ubc.ca/1338-2/
• Healthlink- 811
• BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services-310-6789
• Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre-1-800-784-2433.