STILL A MUM 2018 CONFERENCE & AWARDS GALA

PPDKenya at the StillAMum 2018 Conference

Every year, October 15th marks the World Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) day. The goal of this day is to, first and foremost, recognize the loss that so many parents have experienced, as well as to create awareness on pregnancy and infant loss.

This year, Still A Mum organized a two-day conference that included two events and an awards gala. PPDKenya partnered with Still A Mum for the conference, and we were able to share some of the information that PPDKenya does at our stand.

It was amazing to speak to the expecting couples and new parents on Postpartum depression and what places moms at risk in the period after birth. A number of the dads-to-be and dads asked about PPD. One of the common questions from them was, “If PPD mainly affects moms, how does it affect dads yet they have not physically given birth?”

This was a great point for discussion because not only are these dads the first point of contact for a new mom (usually), their been aware may help a mom who’s developing the symptoms of PPD and who may not be aware of the changes they are going through. To answer the question on why dads sometimes get PPD:

Paternal Postpartum Depression (or its abbreviation PPPD) affects at least 5% of new dads globally. Why then does it happen if, in women, it is thought to be triggered by hormonal fluctuations after pregnancy, and yet men cannot possibly have it as a result of this? Studies show that, for reasons that are still been researched, a man’s hormonal levels also change, albeit not as significantly as in moms.

Read More: Postpartum Depression affects dads too!

Add to this the psychological, social and financial changes that come with a new baby and it is easy to see why new dads are at risk of PPPD too. Unfortunately, men (generally speaking) will not often readily share what they are experiencing, which poses a challenge even in PPDKenya’s efforts to reach out to the dads. For this reason, the opportunity to speak to the men at our stand was very significant.

The first day of the conference targeted medical professionals, particularly those working in the maternity and pediatric departments. It incorporated training on different aspects during pregnancy, child birth and after as well as Respectful Bereavement Care. Day Two of the conference was dubbed ‘Healthy Baby, Healthy Mum’, and targeted expecting women and their partners as well as new parents. Some of the topics that were covered included healthy habits during pregnancy, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, immunization and Postpartum Depression. I was honored to host the talk on Postpartum depression (with most of it in Swahili! – did you know Postpartum Depression is known as ‘mfadhaiko baada ya kujifungua? You are welcome!), share a bit of my story, what symptoms to look out for, the work that PPDKenya does, and most importantly, that there is hope for the mom and dad with PPD. After the talk, a number of moms did visit our stand, and of them, a few had a free counseling session. PPDKenya was honored to have Brenda Sharp volunteer her services as a psychologist to help the moms at the event.

 

The awards gala had to be postponed from the 13th to the 20th because Wanjiru Kihusa, founder of StillAMum, was out for her Facebook Community Fellowship (Glad to know such fierce kick-ass women!). The gala was organized to celebrate the wonderful work that StillAMum has done in the past three years of operation and to honor persons and companies improving the lives of Kenyan parents. All photos courtesy of Tek Photography.

Dresscode was black-tie, and boy oh boy, people caught the memo. The ambience, the setup, the dinner, the live band and the MC (one and only DJ Soxxy) put together a stellar awards ceremony! It was a beautiful event and I was honored to have joined efforts with the StillAMum team. Let’s do this again in 2019!

 

Mommy conversations

This past weekend, I was humbled to be one of the panelists of #mommyconversations, an event held by Amira Africa. Amira Africa is an organization that seeks to Motivate, Elevate and Encourage young moms. Founded by Fiona Okadia following her pregnancy at a young age, Amira Africa provides a virtual support network for young moms, and puts together events like this, both to empower and inspire.

I ‘met’ Fiona online through a lady I follow on Twitter. The latter invited me to the event as part of the audience, then thought perhaps it would be better to talk about it, and just like that, I got a chance to talk to young moms about Postpartum Depression. My very first speaking engagement! *excited shrieks* It is an honor really, and I am glad we are having these conversations about a taboo subject. I love to share my experience and hope it encourages a mom. If you know me, you know I am passionate about Postpartum Depression.

The event was held on the rooftop of Clarence House, a serene location perfect for a chill weekend. Since the event was set to start at 10AM, and I have a knack for getting lost in new places, probably with the sense of direction of a goldfish, I got to the CBD at a few minutes to 9,and you guessed right, missed my stop by 3 stages (busy tweeting, LOL LOL). So I had to get another bus back to the stop where I was supposed to have alighted. Then I alighted, and followed the directions I had been given, and got lost – but I told you guys!- before meeting up with 2 other lovely ladies heading to the same event.

We arrived a little early, had a few minutes for pep talk before the invited moms started streaming in. Soon, we had a good number to start with. The panel included Ann Mitu (an amazing lady doing big things with Young Africa Mothers), Brenda Wanjiru (a dedicated lady in the police force), Silvia Njoki (renowned stylist and blogger) and yours truly (Postpartum Depression champion in Kenya, because you gotta believe in yourself).

Ann Mitu is passionate about reproductive health and gave an insightful talk on the same, in addition to different family planning methods. Brenda Wanjiru on the other hand, shared a story of resilience, determination and sheer grit in the face of her life’s most trying moments. A single mom to a beautiful girl, Brenda’s rise through the ranks in the police force both inspired and challenged all of us.

Silvia Njoki is an accomplished stylist in her own right, and she gave a refreshing talk on style with insights on balancing motherhood and career. She spoke of how, the best time to start working on things you are passionate about was last year; the second best time is NOW. Her blogging journey which you can read about here, is testament to her passion and hard work in the world of fashion.

I talked about Postpartum Depression (PPD), the associated risk factors, the symptoms and treatment options available. I believe that awareness is key to ensuring that as many moms as possible can get help early. The moms present also shared on their personal journeys and some of the challenges that they had encountered, a number of which bordered on PPD. It was an interactive session, and I am hopeful we can have many more of these forums.

Special thanks to Fiona Okadia, the founder of Amira Africa and Nyagz for making this possible after just one tweet 🙂

Below are some of the photos that captured the highlights of the event. Photo Credits: Amira Africa