Through Women’s Health at Renown, mothers can get the help they need if they are experiencing anxiety or depression. Andrea Thompson, a Nurse Practitioner with Renown, talks about a new perinatal support program. Its goal: to help moms get back to bonding with their child and focus on better health for themselves.
One of the reasons that Nurse Practitioner Andrea Thompson is passionate about providing maternal bonding and support for moms is her own life experience. She had her own struggles after giving birth to her first child.
“I have a 4-year-old and a 15-month-old, and after my oldest was born, I had very severe depression,” Thompson said. “And I had never experienced anything like that before. I was living in Washington State at the time, and fortunately, I was able to see a midwife and a nurse practitioner that had an entire practice focused on perinatal bonding and support for moms. It was really great – I had the tools to cope with my second pregnancy after that.”
An Idea Takes Root
Thompson eventually moved to Reno from Washington. In her role as a nurse practitioner for Renown Health, she saw a need in Reno-Tahoe for a program similar to the one that helped her cope after giving birth. To that end, she worked with Women’s Health at Renown to start its new perinatal bonding and support program for mothers who may be experiencing anxiety or post-delivery depression. The program began on Jan. 1.
“A lot of women come to me who don’t have a primary care provider and get most of their services through Women’s Health, which is why it’s important for us to offer this program,” Thompson said. “For some patients, they may not realize that they are depressed at the time. They may also think, ‘I don’t even know where to go for this. I don’t really feel sick, but this is not normal.’”
Signs and Symptoms
According to Postpartum Support International, 1 in 7 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers will suffer from post-delivery depression. Among the symptoms to watch for are these:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Trouble connecting with your baby
- Crying or sadness
- Constant worry
- Sleep disturbance
- Appetite disturbance
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Possible thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Thompson believes that post-delivery depression or anxiety can be more likely if the mom has experienced a traumatic birth. This might include an unplanned Cesarean section or a birth where the baby spent time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A traumatic birth may also include feelings of powerlessness, poor communication or a lack of support and reassurance during delivery.
There’s a Fourth Trimester
This new program ties into guidelines from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology on what they call “the fourth trimester.” This is defined as the perinatal period, which lasts up to a year after the baby is born.
“Sometimes the fourth trimester is the hardest one, so we need to do a better job of supporting women and being their provider of care for that entire year after they’ve given birth. There have been some really good outcomes for babies with these guidelines, but we also need to improve the health outcomes for moms.”
Having coordinated care to meet maternal health outcomes is one advantage for mothers to use this program. “You’re able to speak with an OB/GYN physician, a midwife, and myself as a nurse practitioner to get the answers you need,” Thompson said. “You can spend more time with us and we can learn your entire history, so we can all come up with a treatment plan.”
Another goal is to transition the mother into primary care when she is ready. “Many women of childbearing age have a great OB provider, but they may not feel the need to have a primary care provider,” Thompson explained. “It’s important to have a good home-base and a place to go if any health needs arise in the future, and primary care is the place to establish that.”
The new program fills a void in the community for mothers who need care after their baby is born. Additionally, it can help validate concerns and put them on the path to total wellness.
“When I’ve been talking about the program to people, they say, ‘Gosh, I really could have used that. I didn’t know I was suffering through depression or anxiety.’ Just to have someone to listen to and understand, and to treat your conditions, is what we hope to achieve here,” Thompson said. “And then, we can help you enjoy your family, your baby and yourself more.”