As the upstate New York leader in OB care, Crouse Health delivers more babies — about 4,000 each year — than any other regional hospital.
The number one obstrical complication is Perinatal Mood and Disorder (PMAD), according to Christine Kowaleski, DNP, MHNP-BC, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who has counseled mothers for years. Without treatment, PMADs can lead to chronic depression and result, in extreme cases, in suicide, she says.
Medical professionals report that up to 85% of mothers feel sadness, helplessness and anxiety for up to two weeks after giving birth. “Cause for concern arises when those feelings linger and post-partum depression sets in,” says Kowaleski. Although reports assert the condition affects one in five women, she believes, based on her experience, that the number is actually much higher.
For several years, Kowaleski has been working with Crouse’s Director of Women’s Health Integration, Kathleen Miller-Murphy, to help remove any stigmas associated with post-partum depression; educate healthcare providers and new and expectant mothers; and to encourage early diagnosis and treatment.
These goals have been achieved through community programs, training sessions and a Family Support group formed in 2015. Major milestones were met last year: screening of new mothers and the establishment of a perinatal mental health practice.
In January 2019, the hospital began using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to screen mothers after delivery. Last June, Crouse opened a practice to provide an array of services to support new mothers with PMADs, including one-on-one counseling, integrative medicine and medication management, including routinely prescribed treatments and a new drug specifically to treat post-partum depression called Zulresso.
“Crouse is the first hospital in New York State to administer Zulresso to a mother in need, who responded very well to the treatment,” says Kowaleski.
Looking for further collaboration to continue to help new moms, Crouse has developed relationships with the Postpartum Resource Center of New York and Postpartum Support International, and has founded the New York State Chapter for Postpartum Support International at Crouse Health.
Kowaleski is affirmed and energized by the strides Crouse has made to help mothers and families through the ‘baby blues’ and post-partum depression. The continued keys to corraling PMADs, she says, are assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support.
Crouse News is reported by members of our Communications Team.