Posted by Kate Weldon LeBlanc
I was happy when Gwyneth Paltrow recently shared in an interview that she had postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of her second child, Moses. That doesn’t sound good, so let me explain. Of course I am not glad that she went through PPD, but I AM pleased that she is speaking publicly about her experience.
At the Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS), we believe that this type of openness about PPD, whether it comes from a worldwide celebrity like Gwyneth, a friend in your book group, or a woman on Twitter, is crucial for improving the rates of mothers being identified and treated for perinatal mood disorders. It continues to be hard for any mother to admit that she is finding parenthood difficult or that she sometimes feels disconnected from her newborn, with so many culturally embedded images of the joyous bliss of motherhood. This reluctance and shame are usually multiplied for the mother who is experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety. So, when more women talk about their current or past experiences with mothering challenges, it can normalize, inform, and even start to build community. And then more mothers, and their loved ones, will recognize the signs of PPD and seek help.
Because of this strong belief in the importance of building awareness about perinatal mood disorders, CERS was grateful when we were recently awarded a grant from Jenny’s Light to fund our efforts to educate providers and families alike about PPD and about all our services for new parents, particularly our Early Connections treatment program for mothers struggling with PPD. The support from Jenny’s Light is not only helpful but also inspiring to us. Jenny’s Light was created in memory of Jennifer Gibbs Bankston and her son Graham. Jenny endured severe, undiagnosed postpartum depression in silence, with the most tragic of consequences. Jenny, Graham, and the loving, selfless tribute embodied by their family’s creation of Jenny’s Light, motivate us in a powerful way to reach and support more mothers who are suffering.
Kate Weldon LeBlanc has been the administrative director of CERS since August of 2009. Kate is passionate about child and family issues, particularly on building communities of support for parents. Prior to her arrival at JF&CS, she spent nearly ten years working in the departments of Child Advocacy and Government Relations at Children’s Hospital Boston. She holds a BSW from Skidmore College and a MPA from UMASS Boston.