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Best Care Practices for Mothers Experiencing Postpartum Depression

Best Care Practices for Mothers Experiencing Postpartum Depression

For many new mothers, “baby blues” can be a common occurrence lasting up to two weeks after delivery. However, if a mother’s symptoms don’t go away or become more severe, it might be postpartum depression – something 1 in 7 mothers experience. Many cases of postpartum depression in women go unrecognized, but knowing how to identify this condition and connect mothers with the right resources can help increase access to care and get mothers the right help when they need it.

Feel free to jump through the topics of this blog using the table of contents below.

Table of contents
Barriers mothers may encounter when seeking mental health care
How providers can help mothers address their mental health needs
Resources and education opportunities for providers
How Iris Telehealth can help

Barriers mothers may encounter when seeking mental health care

There are many risk factors that can increase chances of postpartum depression, a few of these include: a history of depression and anxiety, lack of support, mothers who carried difficult pregnancies, and mothers of twins. However, it’s important to remember that any person can battle postpartum depression regardless of these risk factors.

Getting mothers the care they need is essential, but gaining this access isn’t always easy. Fortunately, telehealth can help.

Let’s look at a few ways telehealth can help mothers overcome some common challenges they face:

  • Stigma: A study by Frontiers found that as many as 58% of mothers who experience postpartum depression will not reach out for help, with many stating they were to scared to seek help. Whether it’s due to the shame mothers with newborns sometimes feel, or societal stigma, telehealth allows mothers privacy to take their appointments. That way, they don’t have to worry about running into their provider in the community, or someone they know in the waiting room.
  • Social determinants of health: Challenges related to social determinants of health (SDOHs) play a prominent role in keeping mothers from the care they need. Taking time away from their newborns may not be an option for mothers who struggle to find transportation or affordable childcare. Telehealth allows mothers to get the care they need without having to leave their homes. It also connects them to telemental health specialists and postpartum education that may not be available locally.
  • Lack of screening: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists guidelines recommend that mothers receive screening 10-14 days after giving birth to identify and treat postpartum depression. Theses screenings are important because between appointments, it might be difficult for mothers to remember to bring up how they’re feeling. Whether they’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness, discomfort with sharing, or sadness, screenings can help prompt important conversations. Telehealth allows mothers to check in with their providers to address common postpartum concerns before it interferes with their daily life.

Because of the convenience and access to specialty care, telehealth can be an essential resource in providing care and breaking barriers for people experiencing postpartum depression.

How providers can help mothers address their mental health needs

Providers play an integral part in caring for mothers and their mental health. By understanding maternal mental health conditions like postpartum depression, providers can offer quality treatment to mothers going through challenging times.
Here are three ways providers can use to help mothers address postpartum depression and get proper treatment for their mental health:

  1. Addressing stigma: As a provider, addressing stigma related to managing postpartum depression can help mothers feel more comfortable discussing the condition more openly. Opening up the conversation and emphasizing how prevalent postpartum can be can help mothers feel less alone in their experience. It can also help decrease the probabilty that the mother will internalize the struggle and not seek care.
  2. Educating mothers about their options: Postpartum depression is treatable. By getting mothers involved in education ahead of time and letting them know what to look for during pregnancy and after delivery, it can be easier for them to reach out for help from their providers. From a mental health standpoint, having a child can impact the whole family, and providing education and resources along the way can be beneficial for everyone. For example, let mothers know about support groups, hotlines they can reach out to, and organizations like Postpartum Support International (PSI), Health Resource and Services Administration, and other local resources in their community.
  3. Reach out: Remind mothers that they also need to care for themselves. Having a solid support system is necessary to get through the stress of a new baby. A support system could look like a partner, family member, or friend. As a provider, you can help your patients assess their current support system and encourage them to reach out when necessary. Reaching out to the mother’s pediatrician can also help assess how the mother and the baby are feeling.

Resources and education opportunities for providers

There are many resources for providers looking to learn more about maternal mental health care. Clinicians can further improve the care they provide by learning about specific issues that mothers, children, and families face when there is a postpartum diagnosis or risk.

Here are a few resources that can help you provide quality care to mothers:

  • Postpartum International Certificate Trainings: Postpartum Support International has multiple certificate training programs for providers looking to learn skills related to assessing and treating perinatal mood disorders. There are options for small group discussions, supplemental reading, and live sessions for certificates.
  • 2020 Mom Trainings: 2020 Mom, a national maternal mental health non-profit organization, has a series of training that include eight live sessions, small group discussions, supplemental reading materials, 16 continuing education credits, and a certificate of completion.
  • March of Dimes’ Professional Continuing Education: March of Dimes, an organization committed to maternal and child health, has many continuing education opportunities for healthcare providers caring for birthing persons. Certain CMEs include strategies to increase screening during the perinatal period, identifying risk factors and signs for maternal health disorders, and the impact of maternal health disorders on the mother, baby, and family.
  • Postpartum Support International (PSI) Webinar: This webinar talks about the range of maternal mental health disorders. In this 90-minute free webinar, PSI shares information about the prevalence, signs and symptoms, and recommended treatment options.

How Iris Telehealth can help

At Iris, we help organizations implement telehealth into their practice so they can help more people get the mental health care they need. We connect your patients with clinicians who have experience managing postpartum depression. Contact us today to learn how you can implement a telemental health program that can help the families in your community!

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