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The prenatal and postnatal periods are times of hormonal and emotional fluctuation. Maternal mental health concerns during and after pregnancy are common. These concerns can include:
- anxiety and/or depression during or after pregnancy
- obsessive compulsive disorder
It's important for health-care providers to have conversations with patients about maternal mental health. Providers are advised to approach the discussion of maternal mental health in a non-stigmatizing, non-judgemental, culturally safe and trauma-informed way.
It's estimated that one in every six people experience sadness, depression or anxiety after the birth or adoption of a child. This is referred to as postpartum depression and anxiety.
What does postpartum depression and anxiety feel like?
- Extreme sadness, most of the day and nearly every day
- Irritability or anger
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed
Screening of antenatal and postpartum depression should be done using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)
tool. Pregnant individuals should be screened for depression at least once – but preferably at every visit throughout pregnancy – and in the postpartum period.
Health-care providers should seek informed consent when screening for depression and anxiety, including an explanation of the purpose of screening, the message that screening is a part of usual care, and that results remain confidential. It is important to ask about past history or family history of depression and previous treatment. Partners may also experience depression and anxiety. Screening of partners is also recommended, where possible.
Resources for patients:
Resources for health-care providers: