On mission for women's health

By Cloe Willetts

Belinda Falconar, of Waikanae, used her experience with postnatal depression to develop a business around women's emotional health.
Belinda Falconar, of Waikanae, used her experience with postnatal depression to develop a business around women's emotional health.

An educational venture directed at women's health and wellbeing was stirred by Waikanae woman Belinda Falconar's own battle with postnatal depression (PND).

Having suffered from PND more than 30 years ago, Belinda has since been on a mission to spread the word about the role women's emotional lives play in their physical wellbeing.

As a first-time mother at 24, Belinda welcomed her daughter in 1984, who suffered severely from colic.

"She cried every night until she exhausted herself to sleep," said Belinda, who claimed there was little support for first-time mothers in the 1980s.

"I was so stressed I couldn't sleep, and got into a vicious cycle and couldn't function during the day.

"I wondered what was wrong with me and my baby, and thought I obviously wasn't mothering right."

Her postnatal depression got so bad that she imagined "throwing my darling baby out the window, which scared the hell out of me".

"Then I got some support from the Plunket respite centre."

According to Plunket New Zealand, PND is more severe than "the blues" that can come from the highs and lows of childbirth.

Associated symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and depression during pregnancy, beliefs of not being able to cope, feeling angry or irritated without knowing why, and feeling overly anxious, tearful, alone, guilty and unsupported.

In an effort to raise awareness about PND and raise funds for Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa (PADA), Belinda, founder of Aroha Acupuncture, completed a 10km Pound the Pathway race last month.

As well as advocating the importance of staying physically active, the event drew light to perinatal distress.

PADA, a national charity, exists to improve outcomes for families affected by perinatal mental illnesses.

It provides crucial support for the 25 per cent of mothers who suffer from anxiety or depression during or after pregnancy, as well as the 10 per cent of fathers who experience postnatal depression.

"The attitude of my mother after I gave birth was similar to her mother, which was if you made your bed, you lay in it.

"My daughter gave birth to her son Joe this year and I spent a golden month with them helping out, cooking and cuddling.

"I wanted to make sure she didn't feel alone and unsupported like I did.

"It was an amazing healing experience for me."

Now, in addition to her work with PADA, Belinda is dedicating her time to giving women access to lifestyle choices affecting their emotional wellbeing.

A component, she said, is helping to reduce women's exposure to toxic elements such as those found in most sanitary products, which "the body absorbs as toxins, straight into the bloodstream".

As a result, Belinda is a reseller of an international chemical-free pad and liners brand, Drion.

"Drion products have negative ions and far infrared energy, which can have a very positive effect on menstrual health and, therefore, overall health."

In addition to her Drion project, Belinda qualified as an acupuncturist and holistic health practitioner, which she does fulltime from Kapiti.

"I love educating people about their health. I give women the tools and inspiration to live a more self-loving life."

- Kapiti News

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