Why MMH should be part of all routine care
If you have been following Miracle Babies on social media (@mybrainmybaby & @miraclebabies), you have seen a lot of our advocacy work around maternal mental health, aka MMH. MMH was not even an acronym I had been using as a clinician in the social work world, as I had been accustomed to using PMAD (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) or PPD (postpartum depression). We love an acronym in this life, and mental health and the medical field are not immune to this. Weve learned that MMH is a better term for everything we want to cover for the focus of Miracle Babies mental health initiative. Maternal Mental Health is the umbrella term for all things mental health during the time period of conception up until the first year postpartum. Now, this is not to say mental health is not important before and after that time period for a family. However, research indicates that women are more likely to experience mental health conditions related to having a child during that time specific time period. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 women will experience an MMH condition annually in the US, which is upwards of 800,000 women a year. During the pandemic, preliminary research shows that increased threefold. What this means is everyone should pay close attention to any mothers, even more so when a complication occurs be it during pregnancy or after. High-risk pregnancies, NICU admissions, prior history of trauma, mental health history, prior pregnancy/infant loss, low socioeconomic status, and being a person of color ALL increase your risks for MMH beyond the 1 in 5 statistics.
Miracle Babies has always had a keen awareness of the importance of the bond of parents to their newborn child, particularly when a medical crisis such as NICU admission shifts the ability of parents to be with their baby in the way everyone pictures postpartum. When mental health is not addressed, this is a huge hamper to anyones ability to cope with daily life, let alone increased crises that may be occurring during pregnancy or postpartum. At Miracle Babies, we are so proud to be able to launch My Brain and My Baby, a maternal mental health initiative. We aim to shift maternal mental health to a basic need so that it is screened for and addressed in the same way as food, shelter, and water. MMH is the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth and deserves to have a much higher focus, as it is more common than gestational diabetes and preeclampsia combined. Our services will provide free maternal mental health for any mother regardless of the type of insurance. We are first piloting with high-risk pregnancies, to work on prevention with early detection and intervention. We cant wait to share more as our program unfolds.