NIC nursing student creates support guide for new parents

NIC Bachelor of Science in Nursing student Emerald Daly is developing a resource guide to help all new parents with postpartum challenges.

The resource guide project is part of Daly’s fourth year leadership course.

She was inspired to create the guide after identifying a gap in care and understanding for men’s mental health in the postpartum period during a practice placement.

“I started to question why the conversation about postpartum depression was only being had with new mothers but not men or partners,” said Daly. “It is a very gender specific area and I hope to dispel some of these myths that only ‘women’ can be affected.”

The guide is aimed at all new parents with the goal of being inclusive and creating awareness about the challenges that all new parents can face.

“Researching this topic I found 10 – 50% of new fathers suffer from some form of postpartum depression or anxiety, yet there is a lack of support for them,” she said. “There are lots of supports aimed at new mothers, which I think is also important, but there’s little to no information provided to new fathers or information inclusive of all people, family units and cultural beliefs – experiencing depression and/or anxiety in the weeks or months following the addition of a child to a family isn’t just a women’s health issues, it can happen to anyone.”

The resource guide will include signs and symptoms to watch for, potential risk factors, self-care tips and a list of support resources if someone does need help or wants more information.

The guide is also meant to help partners recognize signs and symptoms, so they can encourage their partner to seek help, something which Daly says can still be challenging for men in particular but also for anyone else aside from the birthing mother.

“There’s still an attitude –in society– that men don’t face mental health challenges or experience challenges during the transition to parenthood, which isn’t healthy and can make situations far worse,” said Daly. “With new parents, it also impacts their ability to support their partner and the relationship with their children– it really affects the entire family unit.”

Daly is partnering with social service agencies on the North Island to distribute the materials.

“I’ve received great feedback from organizations that this is something that is really needed for their clients and how we can customize the information to meet their needs,” she said, adding that she hopes the guide will encourage conversations around postpartum health for all new parents.

“Becoming a parent is a big life change, for all people involved,” she said. “It should really be about the entire family – whatever that family may look like – to ensure all parents have the information and support they need.”

If you would like more information on the project, contact Daly at edaly@northislandcollege.ca.

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