A new organization is hoping to ease the struggles some new mothers face as a result of traumatic events surrounding the births of their children.
Called #motherslivesmatter, the goal of the organization is to provide support from others who understand that not every birth experience is joyous.
“It started from my own birth experience with my daughter Selah,” said Jillisa Kramer, a founding member of the group. “It was an unplanned pregnancy, which was really hard as it was, so I dealt with a lot of antenatal mood disorders, which I feel isn’t talked about enough.”
Mood disorders during pregnancy, such as depression or anxiety, are biological and involves changes in the brain chemistry that can result from hormonal changes, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health states that recent studies suggest that up to 20% of women suffer mood or anxiety disorders during pregnancy.
Kramer said in sharing her story, she has learned that she is not alone and that other women in the area have had traumatic pregnancy and birth experiences too. She hopes #motherslivesmatter can be a venue for healing that helps erase the stigma for women who struggle with the birth of a child, whether during the pregnancy or after.
The group is planning an ice cream social 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at the first pavilion next to the playground in Billings Park. The goal of the event is to connect women who have experienced traumatic births to resources in the community, but Kramer encourages children and partners to attend so mothers know they are supported.
“I want it to be a family event,” Kramer said.
Kramer said during her pregnancy, she dealt with depression and rage.
A student midwife, Kramer planned to give birth to her daughter at home.
“I didn’t want to be prodded,” Kramer said. “I didn’t want to feel like a test subject.”
She ended up transferring to the hospital because of complications; there her daughter was delivered by cesarean section.
Kramer said she felt forced to consent to the procedure, and she was scared she and her daughter wouldn’t be cared for if she didn’t consent.
“Her birth was very traumatic for me, with a lot of interventions that were unwanted,” Kramer said. She said she felt violated by the hospital, and she still has flashbacks and nightmares about the birth that took place almost two years ago.