Bayhealth Screens New Mothers for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is so common that Bayhealth assesses women for this condition during pregnancy and after delivery. Symptoms of maternal depression may include crying and weepiness, sadness, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, significant appetite changes, poor bonding with the baby, and loss of interest in one’s self.
Kathryn Starr Lynch BSN, RNC-OB, senior nurse manager, Bayhealth Center for Women and Infants, Kent Campus, cites data from the National Institute for Healthcare Management that “approximately 10-20 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy or in the first 12 months postpartum.”
Risk factors for postpartum depression, Lynch said, include – but are not limited to – a long labor, a C-section delivery, postpartum hemorrhaging, and a labor that didn’t go as planned.
Since depression or anxiety increases health risks for both the mother and baby, Bayhealth started assessing women using a scale built into its medical record-keeping system, Epic. Bayhealth, which delivers 160 -200 babies each month, is also increasing staff education to ensure the proper use of the Epic screening for each patient.
“It tells us what to do,” explained Lynch, referring to treatment options. “Most of the time, women get help from a support services team, including the chaplain or Social Work department. Sometimes what women have is exhaustion, so we teach them what they can do for themselves, and we educate family members too,” she said. Bayhealth nurses provide follow-up phone calls to new mothers as well.
Lynch said successful treatment requires collaboration from community providers, and that includes doctors who see all patients two weeks, rather than six weeks, after they give birth. One local practice has a part-time licensed clinical social worker on staff.
Visit Bayhealth.org/Maternity-Obstetrics for more information on Bayhealth services for expectant mothers.