We’ve talked a lot about the critical importance of treating the whole patient, particularly in the area of maternal-child health. One of the primary pillars of holistic maternal child health treatment is ensuring proper and robust behavioral health resources to address the breadth of issues that mothers face both during and after pregnancy. Data from the World Health Organization indicates that, worldwide, about 10 percent of pregnant women and around 13 percent of mothers who have just given birth experience depression or some other type of mental disorder.
Common Behavioral Health Issues among New and Expectant Mothers
Understanding the parameters of maternal mental illness and the factors that can contribute to its onset and exacerbation, is key to providing meaningful treatment, support, and resources. There are many elements that lead to and worsen maternal mental illness, including but by no means limited to:
Economic and Lifestyle-Related Stress and Anxiety
Financial and lifestyle worry is one of the most common forms of stress among expectant mothers and mothers of infants. This type of stress can not only have significant impact on mothers’ mental health but can even impact babies’ health during delivery. A recent study conducted by the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center indicates that financial worry was among the primary factors in low-birth weight. When a pregnant women is anxious and worried about money, it can be far too easy to neglect her own self-care, which directly affects the welfare of unborn child, creating vicious cycle of risk and stress.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is one of the most dominant mental health issues among mothers of infants. Data indicates that between 70 and 80 percent of women experience this condition on some level, with many experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms even months after their children are born. Advanced screening, support and management resources are key to helping women overcome or independently manage this condition. PPD is often caused by a significant drop in hormone levels which may need to be addressed by their healthcare professionals if symptoms don’t decrease in two weeks or less.
Maternal Substance Use
Maternal alcohol and drug abuse is unfortunately common, particularly among new and expectant mothers battling co-occurring mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. For example, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that maternal opioid use disorder rates at delivery have more than quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. Additionally, the agency reports that one baby is born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) every 19 minutes in the United States.
These issues manifest and present different in each patient, and it’s important to provide targeted and intuitive support resources to protect both mother and child.
Addressing the Common Behavioral Health Issues in Maternal Child Health
Addressing behavioral maternal child health issues must be done on a biopsychosocial level. This includes not only care from an experienced and qualified specialist, but also everyday support resources to help patients in the independent management of their condition.
Treating maternal mental health issues begins with understanding the specific factors that affect each patient, then providing a customized plan of intervention to “meet patients where they are” and engage them in their lived environment. If they’re worried about money; offer resources for potential financial assistance; if they’re struggling with substance use, link them with treatment resources; if they’re struggling with PPD, offer information and support resources on how they can get mitigate symptoms. This level of care must transcend the traditional doctor’s office visit and be implemented into everyday life.
70 and 80 percent of women experience postpartum depression on some level, with many experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms even months after their children are born.
GoMo Health Is Committed to Addressing Maternal Behavioral Health Issues
GoMo Health has worked with hospital systems and healthcare providers all over the world in the improvement of maternal child health outcomes, including addressing mental health issues among new and expectant mothers. Our programs focus on the complex and nuanced factors that can lead to behavioral health issues among this increasingly vulnerable population. To find out more about how we can help your patients and organization, contact a member of our team now and learn about our proven behavioral science.
The Interconnected Mind, Body, and Spirit:
A Maternal and Child Health Infographic
A healthy pregnancy is impacted by more than just physical well-being. Research shows that supporting the physical, emotional, and mental health of pregnant women has a positive impact on their prenatal and postpartum experiences.