A new group for new mothers in Montreal is aimed at helping combat the stigma and isolation that can often come with postpartum depression and anxiety.

Motherwit was started by doula Lesley Everest after she saw the need for a space for new moms to share their stories.

“Breaking down some of the barriers, there’s really deep healing in community and that’s something that we lack in big cities,” she said.

For Motherwit member Patricia Gilmore, the symptoms would manifest themselves physically after the birth of her eight-month-old son, Thomas, as well as with her first born, who is now four-years-old.

“Without getting the rest that you need, I would be shaking,” she said. “The best way to describe it is, it feels like someone was just sitting on my chest all the time and I couldn’t come up for air.”

Since the group started a month ago, Gilmore has been attending its once-a-week meetings, which she said has helped enormously.

“You just need to talk,” she said. “You really need to know that other people are going through the same thing as you and then it’s like, ‘Okay, I can do this.’”

An estimated 20 per cent of new mothers suffer from some form of postpartum depression or anxiety. What makes things more difficult for many is the uncertainty of whether what you are feeling is normal or not.

“It’s hard, sometimes, when you’re really busy and very pregnant and very hormonal to understand that maybe you are not doing that well and you’re brushing it off, when it actually could be a mental health issue,” said Everest.