A couple of days ago, a link to the Kickstarter project for the documentary “Mother May I” popped up on my Facebook feed, and it instantly caught my eye (and yes, I am one of the many backers and sincerely hope they meet their financial goal in 30 days, so please consider backing too….even $10 would help!). Why did it catch my eye? Because I had a traumatic childbirth experience that was the beginning of an agonizing postpartum depression (PPD) journey. I didn’t have the awareness needed for me to advocate for myself. There were no patient advocates anywhere along my PPD journey. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about my experience. I didn’t have a means of validating what I experienced. I was in the dark. I had to learn the hard way. This is why I blog, why I wrote my book, and why I look for ways to help others and to try to get the word out and raise awareness so fewer mothers will be blindsided the way I was.
About one-third of new mothers describe their childbirth experiences as traumatic, but you hardly ever hear about negative experiences because everyone wants to be like “everyone else” and happily announce that “mother and baby are doing well.” No one wants to admit to having a negative childbirth experience, just like no one wants to hear about a negative childbirth experience. And that is why everyone thinks childbirth experiences aren’t that big a deal.
I had previously blogged about negative childbirth experiences via my blog post titled “Forget the Myths, Here are the Realities of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Postpartum Experiences.” It was one of my first blog posts. The difference between my traumatic childbirth experience and the ones that are the focus of this film is that the ones in the film, like the one experienced by Caroline Malatesta, involve obstetric assault that resulted in both physical and emotional harm to the mother. That is much, much worse than what I experienced.
What has been completed thus far is 20 hours of footage of interviews of more than 15 experts (including a birth doula, a labor & delivery nurse and psychologist who specializes in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and survivors of birth trauma. My plan is to reach out to the Birth Monopoly Foundation folks behind this documentary–including Caroline Malatesta, President, whose own birth trauma story is the impetus behind and featured in this film–and make sure they include the connection between negative childbirth experiences and maternal mental health disorders like PPD.
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you know that passion for public awareness is one of my focal points. I am particularly excited to see that funds from the Kickstarter project will help fund online campaigns to provide free information about birth trauma, resources, and legal rights. It will also help fund college outreach initiatives to help get the film (plus guided discussion) into 1,000 college classrooms around the country. I believe there is no better time to present such information to teens than in colleges. Colleges are a great way to reach numerous young people at once. Speaking of which, I had envisioned doing a book reading of my book at my alma mater when it first came out, but I didn’t get very far. My school is an all-women’s school and what better place to reach so many women at once about PPD! But my idea didn’t get much interest. Perhaps I wasn’t reaching out to the right people. Perhaps I will try again there….and in other colleges as well.
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