By Julie Halm
When a mother is dealing with the tremendous changes that the birth of a child brings, who is better able to provide her with support than other mothers who implicitly understand the triumphs and pitfalls of the experience?
Licensed mental health counselor Amy Creamer saw a need for more of that type of connection in the Buffalo area and so she founded the No Mother Left Behind support group a year and a half ago. The group, which meets monthly, provides professional advice in addition to peer support.
The group welcomes all mothers who are experiencing difficulties following the birth of a child, whether or not they have been diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety.
While it is an opportunity for mothers to unload some of their struggles, Creamer says that she aims to provide women with more than just a vent session.
“I would say one of the central points is self-compassion. It’s a huge skill that we’re really crappy at in this culture,” said Creamer. Specifically, she cites social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest for allowing motherhood to be portrayed in an unrealistic way and created an unhealthy standard for women to hold themselves to.
Creamer said that the group also focuses on mindfulness and understanding that even during the toughest moments, each point in parenthood is nothing more than a passing phase.
“You’re going to struggle at every phase,” she said. “But we need to enjoy where we’re at, when we’re there instead of getting caught up in the rat race and the negativity.”
While postpartum depression and anxiety the latter of which is, in fact, more common will pass with time, they can also strike mothers when they aren’t anticipating it. According to Creamer, these conditions can present any time in the first year and also effects moms who have already had children, and first-timers, alike. Being a mother to another child is always a new experience, complete with new challenges, she added.
While crying at the drop of a hat is, perhaps, the signature symptom, postpartum depression and anxiety can also cause irritability, loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities a person previously enjoyed and even insomnia.
“I try not to pathologize,” said. Creamer. “If you’re a new mom, there’s a place for you to come.”
No Mother Left Behind meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month in the Piver Conference Room, 2121 Main St., Buffalo. Creamer encourages those interested in attending to join the Facebook group which can be found at www.facebook.com/nomotherleftbehind/ and to check that page for updates prior to each session.
For moms in need of further support Creamer notes that her group meets at opposing intervals to the postpartum support group held from 7 to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month in the Cancer Care Conference Room at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, 1540 Maple Road, Amherst.
Those looking for further information on No Mother Left Behind can contact Creamer at 862-1678.