Postpartum Depression: Lifesaving Support for New Moms

Postpartum Support Charleston hosts an annual Moms' Run + Family Fun Day on Mother's Day weekend

On December 5, 1999, Ruth Rhoden Craven took her own life – just two-and-a-half months after the birth of her first son. Postpartum depression destroyed a family and left a baby without a mother. Ruth's family and friends turned their grief into action, creating the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation for Postpartum Depression.

That foundation is now known as Postpartum Support Charleston, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and anxiety. The organization provides support groups, treatment grants, education and resources for Charleston area moms and families.

To fund this lifesaving work, Postpartum Support Charleston hosts an annual Moms' Run + Family Fun Day on Mother's Day weekend. The community is invited to celebrate mothers while joining together to support those moms who may be struggling in the weeks and months after giving birth.

Two moms on race day with their babies. Photo courtesy of JWPhotography.

This year's event on May 12 on Daniel Island marks the 15th anniversary of the Moms' Run, a 5K run/walk followed by family-friendly activities, vendors, food and music. Last year more than 550 people participated in the race.

This anniversary year will give special honor to Ruth and the many moms she's saved as a result of the work Postpartum Support Charleston does in the community. Race participants are encouraged to use the hashtag #Run4Ruth to show their support. Postpartum Support Charleston also has been recapping Ruth's story on its blog at www.ppdsupport.org/blog/.

"We are so thrilled to be celebrating our 15th year of the Moms' Run. This year will be extra special as we have some of the founders coming to speak at the event," said Executive Director Elaine DeaKyne. "For them to see how much the race has grown and the impact they have made on the community by starting this race 15 years ago will be extra special. Every year our race grows bigger, and that means we are reaching more families and helping spread the message about our organization and the support we can offer to those struggling with perinatal mood disorders."

Moms' Run + Family Fun Day runners cross the finish line. Photo courtesy of JWPhotography.

Many women will experience some mild mood changes after giving birth, usually due to hormonal fluctuations. But another 15 to 20 percent of women experience much more significant depression or anxiety.

Postpartum Support Charleston provides support groups, a private Facebook group and one-on-one peer support to help moms understand they are not alone and that postpartum depression can be treated. Board members, volunteers and organization staff also work to educate the community, expectant mothers and medical professionals about the realities of postpartum depression and the importance of treatment.

"We want women to know that we are here for them during the postpartum stage, but that we are also advocating for them when they are pregnant and asking medical providers and hospitals to talk to expecting families about this very common illness," DeaKyne said. "To break the stigma, we have to have the conversation with expecting and new moms."

This year, Postpartum Support Charleston has been asking the community to #Stand4Moms, and that initiative will be ever present at this year's Moms' Run + Family Fun Day. Support the work of Postpartum Support Charleston by signing up for the event at www.ppdsupport.org.

Holly Fisher is a board member of Postpartum Support Charleston and a PPD survivor.

By Holly Fisher

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