Healthcare providers 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.
For my Patients
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
Treatment options for physicians to consider
Therapy can be an effective way to address the way parents are feeling, thinking, and acting. Parents struggling with postpartum depression can benefit from learning new ways to cope with stress, and how to manage their feelings. Involving significant others (e.g., spouses, family) in treatment can also help improve communication and enlist their support and help during difficult times. Counseling may be done on an individual basis, or may be offered in a group through a formal group therapy program.
Antidepressants may be effective in treating postpartum depression. For more information about medication use contact your healthcare provider.
Support groups can be helpful in a variety of ways, including:
- Helping parents to make connections with other parents struggling with postpartum depression
- Learning helpful and practical coping skills from other parents
- Reduces a sense of isolation
- Find a support group.
In addition to therapy and/or medication, many parents benefit from supplemental support such as
Finding a clinician for your patient
- Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project (MCPAP) for Moms
Phone Number: 855-MOM-MCPAP (855-666-6272)
A free referral resource Monday-Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM, for front-line providers serving pregnant and postpartum women. A Care Coordinator will work with the provider to determine the patients’ needs such as consultation regarding psychiatric care, community care coordination, or both. If you are an obstetric provider, you can enroll directly in MCPAP for Moms.
- The Day Hospital
Short term, intensive mental health treatment in a day treatment facility for both mom and infant located in Providence, Rhode Island.
- Articles & Literature
Assessment & treatment tools
PPD screenings allow a standard mechanism for a provider to learn more about a family and about their current stressors. It can reduce stigma, identify provider as ‘safe’ and identify barriers that may interfere with a family reaching their goals.
MassHealth is reimbursing providers for PPD Screening using a DPH approved Validated Screening Tool
- Transmittal Letter
PHY-148: Payment for Postpartum Depression Screening (May 2016).
- MCPAP for Moms
A variety of resources for adult and pediatric providers are available ranging from recent literature, provider toolkit, assessment and screening tools.
- Postpartum Support International
Trainings, screening tools, treatment guidelines for clinicians, and more resources for clinicians.
- More Screening Tools, Trainings, & Continuing Education
PPD regulations on screening reporting requirements
- Postpartum Depression Screening and Reporting Regulations (DOC)
- PPD Sub Regulatory Guidance (DOC)
- All Provider Bulletin 254: Voluntary Reporting on Perinatal Depression Screening (DOC)
- PPD Regulations Information (DOC)
- PPD Annual Data Reporting Form (Carrier) (DOC)
- PPD Annual Data Reporting Form (Provider) (DOC)
Prevention & early identification resources for PPD
There are various steps to take in order to reduce stress after delivery and to identify signs of PPD early. If you are working with perinatal individuals, especially those who may be at risk for depression, some of the following resources may be helpful for your clients/patients.
- Welcome Family
A free, universal one-time nurse visit for all mothers with newborns. Currently present in Fall River, Boston, Lowell, Holyoke & Springfield.
- Early Intervention Partnerships Program
A home visiting program that provides services in communities with some of the state's highest rates of infant mortality and morbidity. EIPP aims to identify early maternal and infant risk and links families to services to prevent or reduce poor health and/or developmental outcomes.
Text4baby sends free text messages to pregnant women and new moms with useful tips about having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The FDA provides various resources to help parents make good choices about medicines, foods, and other products for mom and baby during and after pregnancy.
- Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding.