Fatima, who immigrated to Canada six months ago, is a new mother of a 3 month old baby girl. Fatima and her husband are both faced with the stress of settling into a new place, trying to understand a new language, the health care system, and are feeling overwhelmed. She knows the baby needs medical follow-up at 3 months but she just doesn’t feel like leaving her apartment. She feels sick and not herself.
Back home she felt supported, her sister and mother lived close by and when they found out she was expecting, the whole family got together. They brought her presents and made food. She had time to rest and take care of herself. She didn’t feel stressed.
Here, she is alone with her husband and he is gone most of the day leaving her alone. She is feeling lost in this scary and foreign place. Bad thoughts keep popping into her mind. She is tired all the time and feeling restless with too much worry. Her husband has noticed that she is not herself but doesn’t know what to do. They try to keep in touch with family back home which causes mixed feelings for Fatima. She knows that she should be happy but she misses her family and all the events and activities she is missing back home.
Can you relate to this story or know someone who does?
Having a baby is a big life change, especially with the added stress of moving to a new land and having to find a home, employment, and learning the health care system with limited or no understanding of the language. This is a time when your moods can change all of a sudden. Evidence shows that new immigrant women are at greater risk for postpartum depression (PPD) because of the added stress and lack of support. Sometimes mental illness is misunderstood and can have a huge impact on the woman seeking help and her overall well-being. Finding support can help you with your stress and make things a little bit easier. Toronto Public Health has many resources in multiple languages to address PPD.
1 in 5 women experience mental health difficulties after the birth of their child.
May 4th was recognized as World Maternal Mental Health Day. Symptoms of PPD can last over a period of months and often worsen if the woman is not able to get support and treatment. Every woman’s experience is different, and sometimes difficult for them to recognize their illness. Becoming aware of the signs of PPD and accessing information will help you feel empowered to reach out for help.
We all have a role in supporting women experiencing mental health difficulties. “Maternal mental health matters”. Learn more