Depression and the Perinatal Period

(this post was edited to move the references to the comments)

I just got some sobering statistics from my friend, doula client and now fellow doula Walker Karraa. She’s working in Southern California as a labor and postpartum doula and is a member of the Los Angeles County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force. The Task Force is looking at developing a community-based birth professional training program based on the Health Connect One model, similar to the kind of work we’re doing at Open Arms.

Read this press release from the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) to learn more about the importance of screening for perinatal depression and why this issue affects all of us in the community.

I’ll have more on this topic some other time.

Meanwhile, here’s what Walker shared with me:

Speaking of statistics, did you know that:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for women during the first year after childbirth. 1
  • Depression is also the second most common cause of hospitalization for women in the U.S., the first is childbirth. 2,3
  • Reports show that it affects 10% to 25% of all women, and up to 48% of women living in poverty. 4,5,6,7
  • There is a seven-fold increase in the risk of psychiatric hospitalization for women following childbirth. 8,9,10
  • Postpartum depression is the theme of The President of ACOG’s 2009-2010 presidential initiative. 11

For information regarding Suicide Prevention, please visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and remember 1-800-273-TALK for hotline.

For more information about postpartum depression and mood disorders, as well as local resources for your clients, please visit Postpartum Support International.

References are available in the comments.

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One Response to Depression and the Perinatal Period

  1. Peggy says:

    Here are the references:

    1 Oates, M. (2003). Suicide: The leading cause of maternal death. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 183, 279-281.

    2 Gold, K., Marcus, S., (2008). Effect of maternal mental illness on pregnancy. Expert Review of Obstetrics & Gynecololgy, 3 (3), 391-401.

    3 Blenning, C., Paladine., H. (2005). An Approach to the Postpartum Office Visit. American Family Physician, 72 (12) 2491-2496

    4 Onunaku, N. (2005). Improving maternal and infant mental health: Focus on maternal depression. National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy at UCLA.

    5 Knitzer, J., Theberge, S., Johnson, K., (2008). Reducing maternal depression and its impact on young children: Toward a responsive early childhood Policy Framework. National Center for Children in Poverty, Project Thrive Issue Brief 2.

    6 Position statement: Screening for prenatal and postpartum depression. (n.d.) Perinatal Foundation and Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from

    7 Isaacs, M. (2004). Community care networks for depression in low-income communities and communities of color: A review of the literature. Submitted to Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Howard University School of Social Work and the National Alliance of Multiethnic Behavioral Health Associations (NAMBHA).

    8 Harlow, B.L., Vitonis, A.F., Sparen, P., Cnattingius, S., Joffe, H., Hultman, C.M. (2007). Incidence of hospitalization for postpartum psychotic and bipolar episodes in women with and without prior prepregnancy or prenatal psychiatric hospitalizations. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64 (1), 42-48.

    9 Manisha, S. (2005). The role of state public health in perinatal depression: Fact sheet. Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

    10 Postpartum Mood Disorders. The Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation Website. Retrieved May 1, 2009 from

    11 Ob-Gyns Encouraged to Screen Women for Depression During and After Pregnancy

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