Postpartum Support International Iowa: Climb Out of the Darkness

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Postpartum Support International Iowa: Climb Out of the Darkness

How’s your brain? This might not be something you were asked in the weeks and months after your child was born. The first few weeks home from the hospital can be a mix of adrenaline, exhaustion, and the common hormonal changes associated with what’s known as the Baby Blues. Up to 80% of new parents will experience this, caused by all those pregnancy hormones dumping out of their bodies. This time of high emotion is characterized by mood swings and usually lasts two to three weeks after delivery. What happens if, after a month or three, you’re still not feeling like yourself? What if your whole world comes crashing down when you return to work? What if it feels like the rug has been inexplicably pulled out from under you six months or even a year postpartum? 

You are not alone.

You’re not alone. You are not to blame, and with help, you will be better. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) are the most common complication in the pregnancy and postpartum period—more than preeclampsia or gestational diabetes—yet the stigma over mental health keeps people quiet.  

Pre-pandemic, up to 1 in 5 moms and over 1 in 10 partners were diagnosed with postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum bipolar disorder, postpartum OCD, and/or postpartum psychosis within the first year of their child’s birth. Add in years of unmet expectations due to COVID—virtual baby showers, no visitors at the hospital, fear of going into a doctor’s office for routine appointments—and the numbers are now projected to be much higher. 

Even if you’ve never experienced PMADs, you certainly know someone who has, whether they’ve shared their story or not. We know the numbers, and we know the adverse effects untreated PMADs can have on the whole family system. So, what do we do about it? We do what women have done for centuries: surround each other in community. We talk about it. We share our stories and say, “I’ve been there.” We lend an ear or a hand to a new parent and tell them, “It’s not supposed to be like this.”  

Climb Out of the Darkness

For five years, Postpartum Support International’s Iowa Chapter has hosted a Climb Out of the Darkness awareness and fundraising event to create this much-needed community. Held during the week of the summer solstice- the longest day of the year- it proves there is light even on those never-ending parenting days.  

This year’s Central Iowa Climb Out of the Darkness will be held on Saturday, June 24th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines. Check-in and registration will be at the lower center court (if you’ve ever visited Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at the mall, that’s where we’ll be!) The whole family is invited to enjoy this free event: bagels and cream cheese from 5 Borough Bagels, coffee and fruit, kids’ activity tables from the Des Moines Children’s Museum, and a group walk around the mall on a path decorated with real Iowa parents’ stories of postpartum mental health challenges. The first 100 families to check in will get a free swag bag with lots of goodies and coupons for things like a free music class from Music Class for Tots, a day pass to JouJou, and much more! 

All funds raised go to providing free online support groups for parents at all stages of pregnancy and postpartum, training healthcare providers in postpartum mental health issues, and running the free 24/7 national text and Helpline that parents are encouraged to reach out to when needing support. If you’re unable to attend the event, you can still register to join the Central Iowa fundraising team and share the cause on social media. If you’re interested in sponsoring or volunteering at the event, please email iowapsiclimb@gmail.com.  

PMADs are incredibly common amongst all populations of postpartum families; it’s time to make talking about them and showing our support even more common.   

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