woman with baby at doctor's office

Physicians who work directly with pregnant women and new parents have the opportunity to identify signs and symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD) and refer patients for treatment. Assessing for PPD is essential for early identification and to improve parent and infant health outcomes.

PPD Impact on Parents

  • Less responsive to infant’s needs
  • Less likely to use best practices with infant (attend well-child visits, use home safety devices, breastfeed, etc.)
  • Mothers in recovery are 6 times more likely to experience PPD
  • Interpersonal violence is more common with PPD. Women with a controlling or threatening partner are 5 times more likely to experience PPD
  • Reduced attachment between mother and child

PPD Impact on Babies of Depressed Parents

  • A substantial body of literature suggests that PPD is associated with negative consequences to the developing child including behavioral, cognitive, and health-related outcomes

What Do I Say to a Parent Who May be Experiencing PPD?

It is important to increasingly normalize PPD and utilize language which is nonjudgmental and encouraging when screening for PPD.

  • “Being a new parent can be an incredibly wonderful and incredibly overwhelming experience and it is normal to feel both.”
  • “We know that PPD is common in many women after giving birth so I talk to all the families I work with about this.”
  • You can help by reducing her sense of isolation and shame and encourage her to believe a better future is possible
  • Assure the parent that concerns about PPD do not make her/him an unhappy or bad parent.
  • Avoid assumptions.
  • Avoid judgmental tones or assuming he/she has PPD before screening and assessment is complete
  • Ask mom or dad if she/he has been screened for PPD by another healthcare professional

Resources & Information for Physicians

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This information is provided by the Pregnancy, Infancy and Early Childhood Division within the Department of Public Health.