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Perinatal/Postpartum Care


Although many assume the perinatal time is filled with joy and excitement, a surprisingly large percentage of women suffer from Perinatal Mental Health (PMH) problems, meaning from pregnancy through the postpartum year/s. 

Reasons range from fear of complications at birth to transition to new motherhood to stress of adding a newborn to an already complicated home life. Some women may experience PMH problems for the first time, while others may endure relapse, continuation or worsening of a pre-existing condition.

Perinatal mental disorders, among pregnancy’s most common morbidities (an illness or symptom of an illness), contribute to maternal mortality and to adverse neonatal, infant and child outcomes. Research estimates up to 27% of U.S. women experience PMH problems. International research estimates 10-25% of women have perinatal depression and 25-45% have perinatal anxiety. These estimates do not include less common and often more severe PMH conditions, such as: 

Despite being commonplace, care for PMH conditions is frequently difficult to get. This may be due to lack of training of medical professionals, including midwives, or to mothers and others not perceiving their need for care in the first place. Indicators of mental health concerns may be missed due to the physiological changes of pregnancy, resulting in neglect of appropriate mental health care. 

In fact, identifying and treating PMH concerns is lower in pregnancy than in non-pregnancy. If unaddressed, this may increase the risk of:

    • Preterm birth or low-birth weight
    • Impaired maternal-infant bonding or relationship dissatisfaction
    • Social and cognitive developmental delays for the infant
    • Continued maternal mental illness beyond perinatal period
    • Maternal suicide and infanticide

More findings from recent perinatal / postpartum research 

Luckily, attention to PHM care is changing, with greater priority to PMH as a significant public health concern. Women in the perinatal/postpartum period can access mental healthcare either through referral (medical or family) or by engaging care on their own. 

CFI clinicians are trained to detect and facilitate treatment for PMH concerns. They may use a validated screening tool and form a team approach with the client’s doctor, hospital and family members.

Learn more about the Parenthood Center at CFI…


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