Thursday, July 24, 2014

Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder coverage on the Diane Rehm Show (NPR)

I want to share some important take-aways from the recent coverage of Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show. If you want to listen to the show, click here, or you can read the main points below:

1) According to leading experts, baby blues last about 10 days. If your symptoms persist or become more severe, you are likely experiencing a PMAD. I wish I had known. I kept wishing away my symptoms and convincing myself they would pass.

2) Insomnia is a very common symptom of PMADs and is not normal for new mothers to experience. Chronic insomnia exacerbates anxious and depressive symptoms. My worst symptom of all.

3) Suicide is a leading cause of maternal death. Women are dying.

4) PMADs are the leading cause of childbirth - more common than postpartum hemorrhages yet doctors are not looking for risk factors or screening for PMADs after childbirth. My OB asked if I had experienced anxiety or depression in the past (a large risk factor) and when I answered yes, she said nothing...

5) Researchers are currently looking at a form of genetic testing to determine which women will be at risk for developing a PMAD. Specifically, researchers are looking at the role estrogen plays in at-risk women.

6) If a woman considers her birth experience to be traumatic (subjectively), she is at a higher risk for developing a PMAD. While by medical standards, I didn't have a traumatic birth, in my mind and still today, I believe I did. My epidural was mildly helpful for only half of the final stage of labor. I pushed for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Labor and delivery nurses told me the rule of thumb was to resort to c-section at 3 hours of pushing, simply because a woman no longer has the stamina to push any longer. They let me continue to push because my progress was "substantial." When I held my daughter for the first time all I remember is feeling angry and betrayed. I was in shock of what I had just endured and I couldn't shake the shock for a few days.

7) Placenta encapsulation - placentas are rich in nutrients but the verdict is still out on whether they can protect against PMADs.

Let's keep supporting and educating. This is every one's business.

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