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Finding Hope: Screening at St. Luke's helps new mothers recognize signs of postpartum depression

Posted: 9:15 AM, Dec 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-26 11:15:45-05

Adjusting to life with a new baby can be difficult.

"It's a huge life change," said Certified Nurse-Midwife Catie Obosky.

Lack of sleep, extra stress, and add in changing hormones, and postpartum depression impacts 12 to 15 percent of mothers.

"Your placenta makes as many hormones in one day as a non pregnant woman makes in a whole year. So your exposed to that for nine, ten months, and then we take it away and your hormones drop significantly. It's really a chemical reaction in your brain with your hormones that's happening," Obosky explained.

At St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center , Obosky and other nurse-midwives screen patients with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale after they've had a baby. It's a simple survey asking parents 10 questions related to how they are currently feeling mentally.

Obosky says those questions include, Are you finding enjoyment from the things you used to find enjoyment from? Do you unnecessarily blame yourself when things go wrong? Do you feel anxious or worried for no good reason? Answers then range from no, not at all, to yes, most of the time. The results lead nurse-midwives to a deeper conversation with their patients on mental health.

"There are some red flags to look for. I think a big one is when you can't sleep, even though you're exhausted because maybe you're only getting one or two hours of sleep at a time with a newborn. But, you can't sleep because you're so worried about your baby not sleeping or not waking up. Another red flag I think, is if you just have total disinterest in yourself, your baby, your other children, and your family," Obosky said.

Patients complete the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at their one week postpartum check up, and again at six weeks. It's an effort to catch signs of depression or anxiety early, and get new parents the treatment they need.

"There are lots of treatment options, and it's very individualized. Sometimes it's talking about your birth experience, writing about it, talking about it not only with us, but maybe with a counselor. Sometimes we talk about medications like antidepressants. Not only do they help with your mood, but they help with anxiety too, and they are safe when you're breastfeeding," Obosky explained.

Most importantly, is self care. Obosky tells new moms to get sleep, eat healthy, and don't feel guilty taking time for yourself.

"Remember that you can't fill up other people's cups from an empty pitcher," Obosky smiled.

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale can be found online here .

St. Luke's offers resources and support groups for families at its locations across Idaho. For more information, visit the St. Luke's website here .