Nine years ago, when I birthed my first child, Postpartum Progress was a resource when I was in desperate need of help. See, Isaiah was an unexpected pregnancy and came with all of the flotsam you’d expect from a 20-year-old trying to learn how to be a mother. Though I eventually learned the basics of what any mother needs to know to care for her baby—diaper-changing, feeding, bathing and such—I was blindsided by an increased discomfort around mothering my child. I anticipated that I would feel slighted; after all, I was young, inexperienced and completely unready to be a parent when Isaiah came along. Humans judge other humans, and especially ourselves. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was my intense crying spurts and feelings of hopelessness, and the extreme panic I experienced when he cried.
I was suffering with postpartum depression.
I went untreated for so long that my depression morphed into psychosis. Though I had access to care and my family acted quickly once they realized something was wrong, many Black women don’t have the resources and support they need to identify their symptoms and get help.
We know that Black women get postpartum depression and anxiety. We also know that we are more likely to be misdiagnosed or disregarded, or we lack access to quality care. This travesty is made worse by the fact that Black women also face far more marginalizing factors in their environment than white mothers. That combination is a toxic brew that drowns out Black mothers in maternal mental health conversations. Postpartum Progress is seeking to change the game.
The team at Postpartum Progress is seeking to address this gap in care (health disparity) by creating tools of empowerment for Black mothers and mothers of African descent. Last week Postpartum Progress announced a new checklist for Black moms, designed to highlight the disparities and get us the critical information and support we need as we get down to the important work of raising our babies.
“Our checklist was developed with feedback from clinical experts and patient input in order to empower Black women who are seeking support around their experiences with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. The checklist is designed to:
- Empower mothers to help themselves.
- Facilitate conversations that can be difficult for mothers to start with their doctors and other care providers.
- Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based symptoms of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
- Reinforce the variety of recognized, evidence-based risk factors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders to both mothers and clinicians.
- Help clinicians get a clearer picture of how to best assist their patients.
The work of Postpartum Progress and other organizations that are shining a light on maternal health issues with women of color in mind is game- changing work that will improve and save lives. Get the Black and African Diaspora Checklist here.
Jasmine Banks is the managing editor of MyBrownBaby.com. A mom of three, she is passionate about the power and beauty of Black motherhood and raising Black children. She blogs at JustJasmineBlog.com and works for Postpartum Progress, fighting stigma in maternal mental health.