Moms Find Lifelong Support at BridgeWay’s PMD Group
September 23, 2019
They’ve been through “the war” and they’re still together. The self-christened Real Moms of Mississauga (RMoMs) gather in a local living room not far from BridgeWay’s Turtle Creek location to talk about their time in BridgeWay’s Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD) Peer Support Group and why they’re “still a group” six years later.
The Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMD) Peer Support Group is one of BridgeWay Family Centre’s 50 free programs for children, parents, and families. It is held at three of BridgeWay’s sites—Turtle Creek, Brittany Glen, and Heart Lake—with partner-led programs at Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Centre and Caledon Parent-Child Centre. The group aims to provide a safe, supportive space for moms with emotional and physical symptoms of PMD to share their experiences.
PMD is the most common side effect of childbearing, affecting one in five new mothers. However, social stigma about expressing these feelings leaves parents with PMD feeling isolated. “I was going to the happy mommies group—I needed the sad mommies group,” jokes Rachel, one of the RMoMs. “That’s not an uncommon experience,” says Pam Melin, supervisor of the Turtle Creek site and facilitator of the group, “motherhood is depicted as a wonderful time and moms who come to this group feel everything except wonderful.”
“No one understood. I didn’t have support. Just to hear that others were going through the same thing … someone else that’s living this craziness. BridgeWay gave us that honest space. We laughed really hard and we cried really hard. We got to say things that we couldn’t even write in a diary.” That’s how the group’s bond began.
“We give moms a safe place to realize that their feelings are normal and that they are not alone,” says Melin. In the group they talked about everything—from the pros and cons of medication and breastfeeding to their day to day lives. “There is no judgement here.”
The RMoMs reflect that they are all very different people who never would have crossed paths otherwise. BridgeWay’s PMD group offered them a safe place to connect over common ground. “We saw each other at our most broken points,” says one. “We’re all still there for each other.” Indeed, they’ve been there for each other through births, miscarriages, job changes and moves; many now even live on the same street. Their children are growing up together and their husbands have become friends. The bond that began over sharing their traumas continues through trust and acceptance.
In the PMD group and beyond, the RMoMs have learned so much from each other, including better ways to give and accept support. They have each become advocates in their own way. Many share their experiences and the wisdom they have gained with new moms or moms to be. “Find ways to laugh at yourself. There are definite lows in motherhood. Guess what, this is going to suck—but you’ll come through it and it gets better. You will love yourself. You will love your kids.”
Will you help us to support family mental health through programs like the PMD Peer Support Group? Donate today!