One in seven women experience depression during their pregnancies or first year postpartum, but new moms and moms-to-be often remain silent about their struggles, whether it be due to embarrassment, confusion about the symptoms, or a number of other possible reasons. In order to address this issue, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force drafted a proposal recommending that all pregnant women and women within one year of giving birth be screened for depression. A screening could be comprised of a few simple questions and could be included as part of a regularly scheduled pre- or post- natal visit. Since over 80% of women with perinatal depression have not reported their symptoms to a medical professional, this screening could serve as an opportunity to open the doors of communication between doctor and patient and lead to any necessary resources for the new mom/mom-to-be. Another new study published in Pediatrics points to the need for doctors to speak with their pregnant and postpartum patients about more issues than just depression: 75% of the moms in the 1,000 person study reported hearing nothing from doctors about pacifiers and 50% said that they were told nothing about where babies should sleep. Additionally, 20% said they were not given breastfeeding advice or recommendations for how a baby should be positioned for sleep and 11% reported that their doctor didn’t offer any advice on vaccinations. When doctors did give advice, it was occasionally confusing: 26% reported hearing different information on sleep positions and 29% heard different advice regarding infant sleep location.
Here’s hoping these findings lead to more effective and informative dialogues between doctors and mothers.