Parents and Kids ‘Climb’ Out of Darkness of Postpartum Disorders

Walk through Chester Park raises awareness for perinatal and postpartum disorders.

DULUTH, Minn.- With babies strapped in strollers, on backs, or sitting on shoulders, families took to the trails of Chester Park for Duluth’s very first Climb Out of the Darkness hiking event, to bring awareness to a very common problem among new parents.

“As new moms there’s a lot of change that we’re going through and it can be very isolating so as far as how prevalent it is I would say it’s more common than it’s not,” said Tina Drexler, volunteer with Postpartum Support International.

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can start with symptoms that happen during pregnancy, or up to one year postpartum after having a baby.

“Being a parent when you’re new you’ve got all these things at stake and it can feel really like overwhelming,” Drexler said.

“So there were a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed and not being adequate enough to do it.”

Some moms, like Kim Peterson and Jillisa Kraemer, have suffered through postpartum rage, anxiety and depression after the birth of their children.

And for many moms, Peterson said, it’s easy to hide how you feel at the doctor’s office.

“You fill out a questionnaire, but it’s really easy to lie your way through those questionnaires. And it’s so, then there’s the stigma of ‘oh if I’m struggling then I must not be taking care of my child enough.'”

Kraemer feels that there needs to be more medical resources devoted to new moms.

“It’s needed,” she said. “It’s something in this area that’s especially needed because there’s not enough, for example postpartum mental health help. Also y’know anti–nattily there’s not a lot of help there–there’s a little bit but again it’s not talked about enough.”

It’s not just women who are here, Dads are hiking the Climb Out of the Darkness Walk, too. Especially since some wives, Peterson said, may never know what they’re going through.

“To incorporate the fathers is amazing also because there is dark days they do too but they’re the man,” she said.

“And, like, 4 years later I’m like finally hearing about my husband and his issues.”

Bottling up those issues doesn’t just hurt parents, it can also be damaging to their children.

“From birth and early childhood to bond with her parents and that attachment phase is crucial,” said Drexler.

“So if mom and dad are struggling that child is going to be impacted in their relationships in how they interact with the world going forward.”

So kids were invited on the walk too. Of course, making it less fluid as they have to examine every distraction.

Statistics show 1 in 7 mothers develop perinatal anxiety disorders or postpartum depression. But since the symptoms are so hard to recognize, that number is actually much larger.

That’s why events like these are important to connect to resources and others that go through the same struggle.

“It’s helpful to have other people that are going through similar stages so that you can kinda bounce ideas off each other, not feel so alone, not feel like you’re really mucking it up,” Drexler said.

So these moms and dads are banding together to find help, and a helping hand, through parenthood–among nature.

“When you’re feeling really crappy and overwhelmed go outside for 15 minutes and usually kids and parents will start to feel more relaxed,” said Drexler.

To reach the Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota Chapter, you can call or text the helpline: 612-787-PPSM (7776).

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