Mothers have touchpoints with multiple healthcare providers during and after their pregnancies: primary care providers, OB-GYNs, pediatricians and sometimes specialists, psychiatrists or psychologists. Strong care for moms requires coordinated communication among different providers. It also depends on education for moms that treats pregnancy-related mental health complications with the same urgency as other physical risks.
The Women's Behavioral Health outpatient service is an example of a common model among health systems to operate as a specialty service that works closely with the OB-GYN department and refers to inpatient services as needed. Other models include dedicated inpatient beds and partial hospitalization services.
“The needs of these women are not being met. Teams like ours crop up because there are unmet needs," said Carpenter.
Carpenter's team communicates with and educates other providers – in areas like behavioral health, labor and delivery, and social work – on an ongoing basis to stay on top of changes in personnel and nursing staff.
Communication must also happen between providers inside and outside the hospital setting to provide next-steps for moms who may need further support.
Marie Cooper, MBA, BSN, RNC-LRN, director of Women's Health at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, said that if a mom scores high on a screening, the bedside RN notifies the patient's OB provider.
“The provider will bring her in sooner than a normal check-up—maybe at a week or two," Cooper said.
OhioHealth also focuses on educating moms and building trust between moms and their bedside nurses so that mothers with concerns feel safe sharing their feelings. They provide literature for mothers and their support people to take home since postpartum depression may occur well after the limited time a mother spends in the hospital.
“Postpartum depression is on the forefront much more than it was 10 years ago," Cooper said.