Mon Health creates new program to help mothers with depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mon Health now has one of the 13 community focused perinatal depression programs in the country, which they use to help mothers’ mental health during and after pregnancy.

Perinatal refers to the time before and after childbirth, a period in which 1-in-9 mothers can suffer from a mood disorder like postpartum depression, according to a Mon Health press release.

Jennifer Bender is the Perinatal Depression Nurse Navigator and she said the program is still in its infancy but was nevertheless an important resource for mothers because of the risks posed from mood alterations resulting from a pregnancy.

“It proposes a lot of risks if you don’t have a healthy mom you don’t have a healthy family,” Bender said. “There’s definitely some increased risk to babies for bonding when moms are having this difficulty so in general, they’re not as healthy. If you had an infection going you would treat that infection, so if you have hormones that aren’t working you treat that to be as healthy as possible.”

Jennifer Bender

The first step they take with mothers in their care is using a screening tool called Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Screening (EPDS) to gauge how mothers are doing in the early and middle stages of their pregnancies as well as after their pregnancies Bender said. They are given a score for each EPDS and based on those the clinic decides whether to put a mother on medication and or recommend therapy if she is interested.

Regardless of the score, a mother receives after giving birth she is still monitored because Bender said postpartum depression and anxiety can take up to anywhere from several weeks to a year to manifest itself. That is why she makes herself known to patients throughout the pregnancy so they are comfortable opening up to her about their mental issues when they present themselves.

“They’ll get a face with a name and when I reach out they’ll be like ‘oh yeah, I remember that person that saw me’ and we can establish a relationship,” Bender said.”Just somebody that they know that’s going to keep checking on them even when they don’t feel like reaching out.”

Bender said the program is not only for mothers that give birth at Mon Health, but any mother who feels like she would like an ally in combatting depression, anxiety, and general mood changes after giving birth.

“Actually, as things go, it’s out there in the public that some places don’t have the resources in place and we’ve always been on the forefront, we want to stay at the forefront of the standard of care,” Bender said. “This is something that ACOG, the American College of obstetricians and gynecologists, has been bringing up that we do all this prenatal care and we do very little post-natal care so we need to up that because that’s when sometimes moms need even more help.”

To get in touch, Bender said to call her clinic number, which is the best means of reaching her (304) 599-6811 and added that she’s also available through her work cell at (304) 282-8511.

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