Parents suffering from perinatal depression can find support in dedicated or community playgroups. Click to find out more.
At playgroup, even if it is a general community playgroup, you can meet parents who went through perinatal depression and learn how they coped with the situation. We currently have two PND playgroups in NSW, one in Wagga-Wagga and one in Wollongong.
Maddison is a mum suffering from perinatal depression. Her condition started while she was pregnant and after giving birth to her second child. In Wagga Wagga, where she lives, there was very little support for parents suffering from PND. After being misdiagnosed there, she she went to Sydney to seek a second opinion.
At St John of God Hospital in Sydney, Maddison had the opportunity to meet other mums who went through the same thing she had been through for the past year. There, through a family referral service, she was contacted by Kate, Playgroup NSW’s Wagga-Wagga-based State Development Officer from Playgroup NSW. Together they discussed the idea of starting a dedicated playgroup for parents suffering PND to provide support and help them get back into the community.
This is how Little Steps Wagga Post Natal Depression Support Group first started. With Kate finding the venue and providing all the organisational details, Maddison mentions that all she needed to do at that point was “show up”.
They started a Facebook Group and advertised all their meetings there, they handed out brochures, went to hospital maternity wards, spoke to midwives and community nurses, child care centres, schools and the local paper featured them in an article.
It was a successful beginning.
Benefits of joining a support group
Maddison shares her experience joining the Little Steps Wagga Post Natal Depression Support Playgroup as a safe place to go to: “Knowing if I’m not feeling 100% during the week, I have a place to go where I can express myself and the other women will understand.” From her experience, people who don’t suffer from PND can’t have a full understanding of the feelings of those who suffer from it. Whilst they may be empathic, she explains that it’s difficult for others to fully relate to what it is like to be experiencing PND.
Some attending mothers have seen counsellors and psychologists that have labelled their suffering experience as “just motherhood”. Many of these mums have summarised their experience attending the Little Steps Support Playgroup as a “life saver” and “great support”.
“When you’re not feeling great, there’s a tendency to stay at home. It can be hard to get out of the house and socialise,” Shares Maddison. The playgroup has helped them get out of their blue bubble and enjoy life with their babies again in a safe and non-judgemental space where other parents suffering from PND joined them in their everyday struggles. Maddison tells us said that one mum travels 90 minutes to attend playgroup.
Naturally, friendships have now extended beyond the playgroup, with the mums all looking out for each other. “It’s reassuring that when some of them can’t attend the playgroup, other mums will reach out and check if they’re ok and if they need any help,” explain Maddison.
Parents are not the only ones who benefit from attending this support group. Being a playgroup at its roots, babies get to socialise with one another. One mother said that, “It’s good for the babies as well, as they have a chance to get out of the house and socialise with other babies.”
Another mum with PND who started attending the general community Annandale Playgroup four years ago, shares her experience with the playgroup as a “sanity saver”. Jacqui comes every week to the playgroup with her two daughters, Ava (almost 4) and Isobelle (almost 2). She admits that, “Playgroup is an integral part of our weekly routine. It has provided my oldest child with a fairly consistent group of little peer to socialise and grow with.” Jacqui found the help she needed at this playgroup because other parents were supportive of her and her daughters.
Jacqui shares the benefits of attending a playgroup while struggling with PND: “I had postnatal depression and the bonds and connections I have made with other mums got me through some very challenging times. The opportunity for support and adult connections has been invaluable. I am originally from Queensland so my local Annandale Playgroup has given me the opportunity to make friends in my local area and develop a social and support network. I am a second generation playgrouper, as my mother took me to playgroup in the 1980s.”
The number of parents suffering from Perinatal Anxiety and Depression is constantly increasing. PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) established the official Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week between 13 to 19 November.
Join us in raising awareness about this serious and debilitating disorder that affects an increasing number of parents each year. Let’s spread the good news that struggles are meant to be shared, join us and let us support you in this.
Join a dedicated playgroup in your area
All our playgroups are comprised of parents with babies, toddlers and preschool aged children, which can prove very supportive in helping parents to get over perinatal depression. If you suffer from PND, attending playgroup might not be enough; we strongly advise seeking professional help in the treatment of this condition.