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An Ode to Public Health

By: Jennifer Bews

The first year of becoming a mother is one of life’s greatest paradoxes. It is beautiful and awkward, bright and dark, a time of togetherness and a time of isolation, a time of celebration of life and the mourning of a past life. Like the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly, the transition can be painful, before the beauty really begins.

During that time, a mother can feel happy, sad, scared, excited, anxious, depressed, among many other emotions. Studies have shown that the kind of support a mother receives during postpartum can directly affect her chances of postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression.

During my son’s first year of life, we had many check-ins with our public health nurse. She visits shortly after the baby is born to check over mom and baby. She asks questions through an unbiased lens and provides advice and guidance where needed. During that first year every concern and question were welcomed and thoroughly addressed.

The resources in our public health system are vast and holistic in nature. We were referred to a pediatric physical therapist to ease our concerns after our son’s long labour transition into the world. To a nutritionist while making the transition to solids. To a maternal mental health line when exhaustion and isolation settled in. When feeling vaccination hesitancy, we were provided with extensive lists of vaccine ingredients, their purpose, the public’s opinion on those ingredients and how they show up in our child’s body through biochemistry. And more recently, we were referred to a speech therapist when we wanted to ensure our son’s speech was developing as it should.

There are many conflicting messages of what it means to be a “good mom” and in the early days that yearning to be perfect can be overwhelming and detrimental to a woman’s health. Looking back, advocating and working hard to help your child gain access to the best resources for them to thrive, is all this mom ever really needed to feel adequate.

Thank you to the Saskatchewan Health Authority and to our public health nurse for helping this mother every step of the way.

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