kieferpix via Getty Images Maya Houle believes intergenerational trauma is the reason she’s currently suffering from postpartum depression .
"My mother is a ’60s Scoop survivor," the Edmonton mother of two told HuffPost Canada. Her youngest child is just seven weeks old. Houle also suffered from postpartum depression (PPD) following the birth of her first child, who’s now two and a half.
"My grandparents were both Indian residential school survivors so there is a disconnect not only with my mother’s generation, but my grandparents and even my great grandparents. That’s a lot of trauma woven into my DNA as a nehiyaw iskwew (Cree woman)," Houle said.
"I felt as if I lacked the ability to be a mother because I hadn’t been mothered," Houle said. "My mother was suffering from her own traumas and I didn’t have traditions or my kokom (grandmother) to teach me how to prepare for my baby."
Story continues below video: Julie Brown* suffered from postpartum anxiety . She lived on a reserve in Ontario until she was 18 years old. She asked for her name to be changed to protect her identity.
"I believe that it goes back to my childhood and how I wasn’t protected the way a child deserves to be," Brown, who has two children and is currently pregnant with her third, told HuffPost Canada.
"My father was beat up by nuns in school and suffered severe racism growing up. Racism is still alive and I experience it to this day. I think that motherhood is difficult and being an Aboriginal mother is even more difficult." Canadian study finds Indigenous moms are more likely to have PPD
According to a new study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry , Indigenous mothers are 20 per cent more likely to suffer from prenatal depression and PPD than white, Caucasian mothers in Canada. The findings parallel the Government of Canada’s 2008 Maternity Experiences Survey that found Indigenous women have a higher prevalence of PPD than non-Indigenous women.
"There is a body of previous literature suggesting First Nations are discriminated against … and this may explain why our findings were most consistent for this group, even after controlling for all other factors such as socioeconomic status," new study author Christoffer Dharma told HuffPost Canada. Getty Images Researchers looked at the data of over 3,000 Canadian mothers from various ethnic backgrounds from pregnancy to five years postpartum.
"Given that our finding was not universally observed across all ethnic minorities, there appear to be other unobserved factors that might be specific to the groups where the increased risks persist, some of which might not be easily quantifiable in a survey," Dharma said. Chronic life stress and trauma could be key causes
Amrita Roy — a family medicine resident at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry — said she isn’t surprised. Roy interviewed pregnant Indigenous women and service providers for the 2015 Voices and PHACES study in Calgary while she was an MD-PhD student at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. The study found chronic life stress and trauma to be key causes of prenatal depression in Indigenous women.
"The answer lies in the historical and present-day societal context of Indigenous women shaped by factors such as racism, sexism, domestic and sexual violence, and intergenerational trauma from residential schools and other legacies of colonization," Roy told HuffPost Canada. "Our study results show this quite clearly."
Almost all of the pregnant Indigenous women interviewed for the study reported being deeply and negatively impacted by having someone in their life — a parent, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, an older sibling — who survived […]
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