“Mother May I?” – An Important Documentary About Childbirth Trauma

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.

To follow Birth Monopoly on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/birthmonopoly 

 

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Best Beginnings Out of the Blue Launch

Earlier today I was thrilled when I saw on my Facebook timeline this video of the Duchess of Cambridge announcing the Best Beginnings Out of the Blue launch.  Best Beginnings is a charitable organization created to ensure the best start to life for families in the UK by providing support to expectant and new parents, training healthcare professionals, educating the public and working with the government to effect change.  Best Beginnings was founded by Alison Baum in 2006.  To help ensure the best start to life for children, it is essential for mothers to be well.  But postpartum mood disorders rear their ugly heads in as many as one in five new mothers, and for all too many mothers they are blindsided by these illnesses and don’t know that what they’re experiencing is common and treatable. The consequences can be tragic for the entire family in extreme cases, but in all cases are a negative impact to the new mother and baby.

Out of the Blue is a series of online videos about postpartum mental health conditions, such as postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, postpartum traumatic stress disorder (postpartum PTSD), postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder (Postpartum OCD) and fathers who suffer from PPD.  I hope they add a video about postpartum psychosis as well, as that severe condition can have tragic consequences for the mother and/or baby.

I’ve had much respect for the Duke of Cambridge (can’t get used to calling Prince William this) and Prince Henry of Wales, who reminds me so much of his mother Princess Diana, whose death absolutely crushed me.  But now I have a new respect for the Duchess, not just for her involvement with Best Beginnings, which I’m sure her personal experience having children played a very large part in motivating her, but for her involvement with William and Harry in Heads Together, a not-for-profit whose mission is to end stigma surrounding mental health.  Read more about how Prince Harry became a mental health advocate here (this sentence added on 4/17/17).

Looking from across the pond, I heave a sigh of envy that the UK has such a caring trio of royals whose actions reflect the kind of leadership we so desperately need but lack here in the U.S.  Instead, here we are faced with a delusional, lying, narcissistic, misogynist serving as President and surrounded by a self serving, rich, conflict-ridden administration who could care less about the health and well being of women…..after all, look at the record of the extreme right pushing their pro-life/anti-woman agenda.  SMH