Warrior Mom Conference Re-cap

This past weekend, over 100 Warrior Moms from around the world gathered in Boston for the first ever patient-centered conference on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. To call it a success would be a massive understatement. We didn’t want it to end.

Postpartum Progress’ #WarriorMomCon was ground-breaking and centered on connection, education, support, and healing. Women who had once struggled with being able to simply get out of bed came together with fiery, sparkly, joyous passion. We were united in our intense desire to collectively raise our voices. Being there this weekend was our way of telling the world that perinatal mental health issues are REAL and we want to do our part to raise awareness in our communities.

Warrior Moms gather at the Lenox Hotel before the start of the conference

An informal gathering on Friday evening was the start of all the excitement, as Warrior Moms began arriving in Boston. We introduced ourselves, hugged, and the conversations started flowing. You could feel the buzz of fierce energy in the air.

Katherine Stone opens #WarriorMomCon

Katherine Stone opens #WarriorMomCon

On Saturday morning, the conference got underway. Founder and Warrior-Mom-In-Chief, Katherine Stone, kicked us off with an inspiring keynote emphasizing how Postpartum Progress exists because of the dedication and drive of her tribe, Warrior Moms all over the world. She stressed that she may have founded Postpartum Progress, but it wouldn’t be the powerhouse life-changing non-profit organization that it is today without our commitment to the mission of increasing maternal mental illness awareness and providing peer support.

The first panel entitled Educate & Empower: Panel and Moderated Discussion on Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders was filled with eye-opening information on just how many women are affected each year by postpartum depression and anxiety disorders, and how the term “postpartum” isn’t even completely accurate given that 60% of these conditions occur during the “antepartum” period – or during pregnancy.

from left to right: Dr. Ruta Nonacs, Mara Acel-Green, Peggy Kaufman, and Dr. Lekeisha Sumner

Take-aways during the first session:

  • Dr. Ruta Nonacs, Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School: “PPD is preventable if we can identify the women who are at the greatest risk.”
  • Mara Acel-Green, Founder, Strong Roots Counseling: “Postpartum Depression can happen even when a child is adopted. PPD occurs in approximately 20-25% of adoptive moms.”
  • Dr. Lekeisha Sumner, Clinical Psychologist quoted Maya Angelou: “As soon as the healing takes place, go out and heal.”
  • Peggy Kaufman, Director of The Center for Early Relationship Support at Jewish Family & Children’s Service: “Say the word JOY. It’s very powerful.”

We broke for lunch into small groups, and then met back up for an afternoon full of inspiring knowledge sharing.

Kate Kripke, LCSW presents

Kate Kripke, LCSW presents

 

During her “Thriving After PMAD” session, Kate Kripke, LCSW, Founder, Postpartum Wellness Center of Boulder shared tips and exercises for thriving after a postpartum mood disorder. My favorite quote from Kate’s beautiful session: “Give yourself permission to love yourself.”

 

 

 

Divya Kumar presents on privilege

Divya Kumar presents on privilege

Our final speaker of the day was Divya Kumar, Sc.M., CLC, PPD, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center. Divya’s presentation focused on teaching us how to reach underserved moms and families in our local communities and how privilege can limit our perspectives and advocacy. My biggest lesson learned: “Don’t make assumptions. Be conscious of privilege.”

We finished up the day with Self-Care workshops where we learned the importance of self-care and how there are endless options for taking time to pamper yourself. Adult coloring books, knitting/crocheting, massage, yoga/pilates/meditation, walking, talking with friends – online via Twitter chats and other social media or in-person, and the list goes on.

Warrior Mom self-care: adult coloring!

Warrior Mom self-care: adult coloring!

The evening ended on a high note: the Warrior Mom Celebration Dinner. It was spectacular.

Instagram photo by @jzb2

Instagram photo by @jzb2

Day 2 started with a panel discussion around “Raising Awareness Online” moderated by Katherine Stone and featuring Jill Krause of Baby Rabies, Morgan Shanahan of the818.com, both leading professional bloggers who have written openly and honestly about their experiences with postpartum mood disorders. They were joined by Jennifer Labit, the founder of Cotton Babies, the official sponsor of the Warrior Mom Conference. It was an empowering and engaging session on how to amplify your impact online.

from left to right: Morgan Shanahan, Jill Krause, Jenn Labit, Katherine Stone

The conference wrapped up with a final session presented by MotherWoman’s passionate Founder Annette Cycon and Program Director, Liz Friedman. After sharing their own experiences with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Annette and Liz led the group in a guided meditation followed by their support group guidelines. We then broke into small sharing circles where were were able to share our own stories and experience peer-to-peer support and healing.

Instagram photo by @danielle.nelson

Instagram photo by @danielle.nelson

Seven years ago I experienced postpartum psychosis after my first child was born, and five years ago I suffered from antenatal psychosis during my second pregnancy. Those were some of the most isolating and terrifying times of my life. I found Postpartum Progress after I had begun my recovery journey, and I am eternally grateful the blog existed when I stumbled across it. If I wouldn’t have had maternal mental illness, I may never have found Katherine Stone & Postpartum Progress, and might not have met this incredible community. My Warrior Mom friendships are the gift of light born out of my darkest moments and I will treasure them always.

One in seven women will experience a postpartum mental illness {postpartum/antepartum depression, anxiety, ocd, psychosis}. Chances are, if you haven’t gone through it yourself, someone close to you has or will in the future. Postpartum Progress is here to help, every step of the way. Share this video and it’s message. We can conquer postpartum mental health disorders together. We are warrior moms.

About Jennifer Marshall

I married my college sweetheart at 24 and we have two fun-loving, energetic kids. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 in 2006, I had to navigate my pregnancies while managing my mental illness. I write at bipolarmomlife.com to share my experiences with others so they realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Comments

  1. This conference was amazing. The best one I have ever been to. Way to go Postpartum Progress for gathering up the strength of the warrior moms across the country and putting them all in one room! Truly amazing experience!! Cannot wait for next year!!

  2. Jennifer – Thank you for wrapping this up in a perfect bow. U needed to read that recap so much. And you were one of the best parts of the weekend for me, meeting you, sharing with you – tears, hugs and laughter. My new sister – friend who knows exactly the road I’ve traveled. Can’t wait to see you again.

  3. I’m new to this site and I just came across this video and completely cried my eyes out. I had postpartum depression and ocd with my son. He’s now 4 yrs old and healing has been a long progress. I wish I had known about the warrior moms then. I’m currently going thru the decision if we want to have another child and unfortunately this has brought back a lot of the anxiety and depression I previously had. the thought of having to go thru those dark times again is terrifying which is only making my anxiety worse. At the same time I am so afraid of regretting it if we don’t have another child. I feel as if my heart is broken. Any advice?! Also, I would love to get involved in being a warrior mom. I don’t have any family or friends that have gone thru this, thus feeling alone at times.

    • Hi vessa same here i just saw this site and was teary eyed reading all the comments and inspiring words telling that i am not alone. I had terrible postpartum anxiety before but now it went to moderate state cuz i went to so many doctors thingkin i have a serious disease but there is none(tnx God). I still have this monster but i know noe to handle him. I would say i have won the war. I am a survivor and a warrior. We cant give up. We have our loved ones we have a child. I am now working after a couple of years fight for the so called ppanxiety. Dont be afraid.God is with us. Keep the faith and stay positive

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