The best part of my job is attending deliveries– watching new parents’ faces as they see their new baby for the first time and are overwhelmed with emotion. Most new parents will be on an emotional rollercoaster during pregnancy, and after they finally have their new baby, the emotions are not always good. About 80% of moms will feel sad or anxious after having a new baby, and these feelings usually resolve within two weeks. But for about 1 in 7 women, the sadness, stress, and/or anxiety continues for weeks or months. Post-partum mood disorders are temporary and very treatable. Untreated, post-partum mood disorders hurt moms and their families, especially their children. According to research, children of mothers who have untreated postpartum depression are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems, such as:
- sleeping and eating difficulties
- excessive crying
- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- delays in language development
The best intervention for postpartum depression or anxiety is early treatment– with support for moms and families, counseling, and sometimes medicine.
The Perinatal Behavioral Health Services (PBHS) team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO – with the help of the Barnes Foundation and the Missouri Child and Family Health Coalition– provides screening, evaluation and treatment for women and their partners who are experiencing pregnancy-related or postpartum stress, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
The PBHS team specializes in helping women manage stress and practice coping skills. We are dedicated to improving women’s physical and mental health through individual consultations, therapy, referrals and medication management. We are committed to working closely with OB/GYN and women’s health care providers to enhance physical and psychological well-being, restore functioning and improve quality of life.
Here are resources to help you get started finding the support you need for mood disorders during or after pregnancy. Some of these are national organizations, other are local to the greater St. Louis area. Special thanks to the PBHS team for pulling together these resources and getting permission from them to publish.
Nurses for Newborns
At no cost to you, Nurses for Newborns will send a registered nurse to visit you at home to check up on both you and your baby’s health. The nurses are a wonderful source of information for new and experienced moms about infant care, feeding, and signs to look for that indicate you may need to call the doctor. If you have ongoing concerns about your baby’s health, or you need ongoing support, your nurse will continue to visit as needed. If you are struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, please tell your nurse so she can provide additional recommendations. We suggest you call before you leave the hospital or shortly after you return home to set up the first appointment.
Behavioral Health Response
The Behavioral Health Response is a locally based 24-hour helpline. If you are feeling depressed, are experiencing an emotional crisis, difficult moods, or need someone to talk to, call the 24-hour helpline at 314-469-6644. A counselor will be available at any time of the day or night to talk, provide intervention, and, if necessary, help with establishing a care plan. If you are in an immediate emergency, please call 911.
- St. Louis City: 314-768-3201 or 314-338-2200
- St. Louis County: 314-953-8030
- St. Charles: 636-947-0600
- Wentzville: 636-887-3070
If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, are concerned about your and your child’s safety, or find yourself struggling with difficult emotions to the point that you feel you temporarily cannot care for your child, call Crisis Nursery 24 hours a day. A trained professional will provide help, resources, and emotional support. If necessary, Crisis Nursery will provide safe, emergency care for children ages birth through 12 years old.
Are you feeling depressed, anxious, or overwhelmed now that your baby is here? Postpartum Support International provides extensive information for moms and families seeking guidance and community following pregnancy. Postpartum Support International is a great place to call if you would like to talk to a volunteer who is a mom and had her own emotional struggles after birth and now wants to help other moms experiencing similar issues. The website is also a wonderful place to numbers for call-in support groups, and even information about groups for dads.
Parents As Teachers
Parents as Teachers works through the MO and IL school districts, a representative at this line can give you the information for your district.
We encourage every parent to give Parents as Teachers a try. At no cost to you a trained specialist will visit you and your child at your home once a month. You and your educator will interact with your baby together. The educator can offer tips and interactive games you can play with your baby to make the most of your little one’s development. While the service can be stopped at any time, you and your child may stay in the program until they are 5 years old.
Safe Connections provides free, professional counseling as well as support groups for those who are currently experiencing, or in the past have experienced, domestic violence or an abusive relationship. Abuse can be physical, verbal, or emotional. For quick help and support during a crisis, or for more information, call the 24-hour hotline at 314-531-2003 and a trained professional will always be available. If you believe you are in immediate danger, call 911.
The AWARE program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital seeks to reach out to those experiencing partner abuse or partner violence. You will have one on one contact with an AWARE counselor who will support you and work alongside you to create a plan to change the situation.