Perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that 14% 23% of women will suffer with symptoms of depression during pregnancy, and at least one in seven women (14%) will experience significant depression within the first year after childbirth. Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women will develop anxiety. While these statistics are alarming on their own, whats even more concerning is the fact that only 15% of women perinatal depression and anxiety will ever seek treatment.
Untreated depression during pregnancy has been associated with poor pregnancy and birth outcomes including maternal preeclampsia, low birth weight, smaller head circumferences, increased risk of premature delivery, increased surgical delivery interventions, lower APGAR scores, and a higher rate of admission to the neonatal intensive care unit. If a woman experiences depression postpartum, her baby may experience long-term effects that include poor mother-infant attachment, delayed cognitive and linguistic skills, impaired emotional development, and behavioral issues.
Stressful life events are another issue that can have serious repercussions for women who are currently pregnant. Although we often cannot control these events (death of a family member, job loss, etc.) from happening, making sure that you have a good social support network and access to qualified mental health professionals can help ensure that you process the event appropriately, while continuing to focus on your prenatal health.
To find a mental health care provider near you, please visit Postpartum Health Alliances website.
If you are a NICU parent and want to connect with others who have experienced a similar situation, consider joining the Miracle Babies Parents Supporting Parents, a social support service.