Black Maternal Health: Amplify the Conversation and Act | Office of Research on Women’s Health

Black women die from pregnancy complications two to three times more than their White and Hispanic counterparts, according to a January 30, 2020, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report containing the first national data on maternal deaths in the United States since 2007. Black Maternal Health Week (April 11–17) helps keep this heartbreaking health disparity front and center, where it belongs. When our sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, and co-workers are in danger, we need to do more. We all need to elevate and amplify the national conversation to raise awareness, spur action, and take steps to address Black maternal health. We know that about 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, and these new data are an important tool to guide our efforts.
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Moms & Dads Should Be Monitored Together for Postpartum Depression.

A new study found that even mild, long-term depressive symptoms among moms lead to emotional problems for kids. Researchers also pointed out that one parent’s depression puts the other at risk.


Source: Maressa Brown

The more we talk about mental health, the better—especially when it comes to expectant and new parents. After all, one parent’s struggle with depression puts the other at risk—and can affect a child’s emotional well-being, too. That’s the conclusion of a new study out of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Using data collected from the Children’s Sleep and Health study—in which over 1,600 expecting families in Finland were studied from the final stages of pregnancy through to when the child turned five—researchers looked at how depressive symptoms of both parents affected a child at ages two and five. They concluded that a dad’s depression lead to emotional problems for a child, such as hyperactivity, aggressiveness and anxiety, only if the mom was depressed, as well. Meanwhile, mom’s depressive symptoms, even if they were considered “mild,” affected the child regardless of a father’s depression.

Visiting Researcher Johanna Pietikäinen from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) said in a press release on the study, “In families, depression experienced by the mother has a key impact on the child’s well-being.” The researchers recommend health care providers pay attention to depressive symptoms among moms from the time they’re pregnant through the child’s first birthday.

The researcher also pointed out that not only does suffering from depression before pregnancy put one at risk for moderate to severe depression during and after those nine months, but one partner’s depressive symptoms put the other partner at risk, as well. For that reason, the mental well-being of both parents should be monitored during pregnancy and after the baby is born. If one partner appears to be suffering from depression, the other should be examined.

This recommendation is particularly newsworthy, as Pietikäinen explained that “fathers’ psychological well-being is not necessarily covered by depression questionnaires in maternity clinics.”

Researchers also pinpointed the following as risk factors: sleep deprivation during pregnancy, stress, anxiety and a bad family

“Depression among parents both during and after pregnancy not only affects the person suffering from depression but also has a long-term impact on the well-being of the newborn child,” Pietikäinen explained. “Even in cases of mild depression, it is important that the symptoms are identified and the parents are offered support as early as possible, if necessary already during the pregnancy.”

Knowing When To Get Help. New Mom Takes Her Own Life After Silent Battle With Postpartum Depression:

Allison was a beautiful ray of sunshine in my life.  The life of an Army wife can get lonely at times – moving around so much, searching for new friends, and trying to make a strange house and new town feel like home.  A mil-spouse herself, Allison knew the struggle, and reached out to my husband the very first weekend we moved a few houses down from her in Montgomery, Alabama.  She invited us on a blind friend date with her and her husband, Justin.  It wasn’t long into our first dinner together that I knew we hit the friend and neighbor jackpot.  It was easy to be drawn to Allison.  She was incredibly witty and had an amazing ability to make everyone around her feel welcome, included, and loved.  I knew we would be lifelong friends.

With both of us expecting our first child, Allison due a few months before me, we had a lot of similar experiences that year in Montgomery.  We shared pregnancy together, eating cupcakes regularly, waddling around the neighborhood, and alternating as the designated driver so our husbands could enjoy drinking for two on the weekends.  Allison’s career as an early childhood educator, coupled with adoration for her niece and nephews, portrayed her love and experience with little ones.  I trusted her baby sense, and copied everything she did.  I chose the same OB group, the same stroller and car seat, even the same nursing tanks and nipple shields.  I wanted to be just like her.  She was adorable, healthy, smart, funny, loyal, supportive, and oh so sweet.  Every time she greeted me with my giant belly, she said, “You look beautiful!”  Of course I didn’t think so when I looked in the mirror, but she made me feel so good.  Allison was a great friend.  She handled pregnancy and motherhood beautifully…on the outside.

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