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Step Into the Light Walk Raises Awareness and Support for New Parents

'Step Into the Light’ walk for women’s health aims to help communities understand how they can help friends or family members who might be struggling. — Submitted photo

Grand Forks City Park is the place people can meet Saturday (June 24th) at 10:30 a.m. to participate in the ‘Step Into the Light’ walk for women’s health.

When the new baby arrives in a family, most people assume it is a time of love and celebration. What many new moms don’t expect is that  they might struggle to adjust or that she may feel isolation, exhaustion, or even a lack of love for her child.

Becoming a mother is often viewed as one of the happiest times of life, yet one in seven find the adjustment to difficult and can suffer from crippling depression, anxiety, doubt or guilt that can also affect dads and impact families.

Step Into the Light invites moms, dads, sisters, brothers, grandparents, friends and all other family members to walk together on Saturday, June 24th to bring attention to this important issue.

Other walks are being held in Nelson, at Lakeside Park Rotary Gazebo; Castlegar Pavilion at Millennium Park and Midway Elementary School in West Boundary.

Despite its prevalence, postpartum depression (PPD) remains a taboo subject with the common assumption that new parents will ‘find their feet’.

“PPD is a challenge because we have to first recognize that we are experiencing a depression and then step forward, against the assumptions that say: "having a new baby is bliss!", "I'm so in love with my baby!" "this is such a special time!" explained Lauren Andres, Castlegar facilitator for Motherwise mental health support group and a doula. “The reality is, it doesn't feel that way for everyone. A lot of people are struggling and wondering if they are a bad parent or wondering if others feel this way.”

Over the past year and a half a regional committee has been addressing some of the gaps in services and resources for moms across the Kootenay Boundary. This has been an important transformation working across physicians, community organizations and key mental health services.

“Mental health during pregnancy and the postpartum period forms a strong base in which to support the health of children, families and communities,” said Tanya Momtazian, Midwife in Nelson and one of the team with Mothers Unfolding peer support group.

“For those mothers experiencing anxiety and depression, this critical time in a mother’s life is often met with isolation and silence.  Bringing awareness and community support to new families is an important first step.”

The ‘Step Into the Light’ walk for women’s health aims to help communities understand how they can help friends or family members who might be struggling. Local family services agencies are collaborating with the Shared Care and Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice to host these walks in Castlegar, Nelson, Grand Forks and Greenwood.

Anyone struggling with adjusting to being a new parent, you can reach out for help from your local family services, public health nurse, your family doctor, or a mental health clinician.

Few can summarize the first steps you can take if you are facing challenges better than some advice from a Nelson mom who has journeyed through depression: Get out of the house and join programs that bring moms together. When mothers deal with isolation, trauma and depression the whole family suffers. Programs… help women be mentally healthy, which means healthier kids, better decision making, more successful marriages and stronger communities. The quality of the first six years of your child's life will have the biggest effect on your child, so self-care is of ultimate importance. There is no better way to improve a baby's outcome than to take care of that baby's mother.

Join moms and families across the region to show support for the journey into parenthood and raise awareness for mothers’ mental health one step at a time Saturday, June 24 at 10:30 a.m.

  • Castlegar:  Castlegar Pavilion at Millennium Park
  • Nelson: Rotary Gazebo at Lakeside Park
  • Grand Forks: City Park – meet at the parking area by the river
  • West Boundary: Midway Elementary School