Pre-Natal and Post-Partum Depression
Pregnant women and new mothers are expected to be joyous. Unfortunately, many pregnant women and new mothers experience painful feelings of depression and anxiety. These feelings can seem bewildering and even shameful. They are hard to talk about when people around you expect you to be content with your new baby. Yet feelings of anxiety and depression during pregnancy and after birth are common. Between 10 and 20 percent of all women experience some form of pregnancy related depression or anxiety. With treatment, these feelings will end. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of depression and treat it as soon as possible during or after pregnancy to help women have a healthier pregnancy and a smoother road after their babies are born.
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies
Research shows mothers who are low-income are more susceptible to maternal depression, however financial, cultural and language barriers prevent them from seeking or receiving treatment.
Our community program ‘Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ provides free home-based therapy for low-income uninsured and under-insured women suffering prenatal or postpartum depression. We connect families with needed community services (donated baby items, domestic violence resources) and we partner with other non-profits like the DC Diaper Bank to augment therapy and reduce outside stressors.
When a community health nurse, partner primary care provider or OBGYN suspects a woman is depressed, s/he obtains the woman’s consent and refers her to ‘Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies’ Program Manager, America Caballero, MS, LCPC. If the woman qualifies (she must be uninsured, low-income and live within Montgomery County, MD.) and agrees to counseling, Ms. Caballero assigns one of our bilingual therapists who will provide 12 free home therapy sessions. Regular home visits stabilize the mother and enable her to soothe, nurture and care for her baby.
In complex or severe cases, we extend therapy beyond 12 sessions to make sure the mother and baby are stable and safe. Our services may also include a visit with a psychiatrist to evaluate and treat clients who may benefit from medication in addition to talk therapy to help them get relief from their depression.
Chronic and severe maternal depression has potentially far-reaching harmful effects on families and children. When children grow up in an environment of mental illness, the development of their brains may be seriously weakened.- Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (2009). Maternal Depression Can Undermine the Development of Young Children: Working Paper No. 8.
Here are some symptoms or signs of depression:
- Panic attacks
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Irritability and/or mood changes including frequent episodes of crying or weepiness
- Persistent sadness
- Changes in appetite
- Intense anxiety
- Bizarre and unwanted thoughts and fears, such as overly intense worries about the baby or intrusive thoughts of harm to the baby
- Unable to sleep when the baby is sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering things
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations, numbness and hyperventilation not associated with physical conditions
Be open about your feelings, seek help. Prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety are common. With treatment, these feelings will end.
Our Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies is a comprehensive program with skilled, bilingual therapists who work with women, family members, ob-gyns, primary care physicians and other service providers providing:
- Effective mental health treatment and holistic care
- Understanding and practical support needed for recovery
- Responsive and caring attention to the unique needs of new mothers
- Training to public health nurses, parent educators and family support workers and other providers who work with pregnant women to recognize signs of depression women and new mothers they serve.
If you have health insurance, therapy is provided in Aspire’s offices, through secure video conference sessions, or by home visits (home visits must be within Montgomery County).
If you live in Montgomery County and are uninsured, underinsured and or low-income, or qualify for the County Maternity Partnership Program you are eligible for home therapy through the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program.
When a worker in one of our partner agencies is concerned that a woman may be in need of treatment, she will offer the woman a referral to Aspire for an evaluation of depression symptoms. Women who recognize the symptoms themselves can contact us.
We are committed to serving all women who need help, whether they pay with private insurance, public insurance, or no insurance at all. If uninsured you may be eligible for free home therapy visits.