Bayhealth is offering screenings for 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, 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 include, but are not limited to, a long labor, a C-section delivery, postpartum hemorrhaging and a labor that didn’t go as planned, according to Lynch.

Because depression or anxiety increases health risks for the mother and baby, Bayhealth started assessing women using a scale built into its electronic medical record 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.

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.

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