By: Lyba Masroor, Health Youth Ambassador

For many mothers, the birth of their child brings a new sense of happiness, excitement, and love into their lives. However, some mothers can face the opposite feelings. For many mothers, a new sense of depression may also impact their lives. 

This depression, also known as postpartum depression (PPD), affects 1 in 8 women who recently gave birth. So what exactly does PPD look like? 

According to the American Psychological Association, some symptoms include:

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much 
  • Feelings of worthlessness 
  • Loss or increase in appetite 
  • Mood swings 

While you may be thinking, how can having a baby cause depression, PPD can occur for a variety of reasons. Although PPD can occur randomly, some contributing factors include genetics, hormonal changes, and lifestyle changes. Additionally, Black women are more likely to have PPD, but less likely to receive help. This is often due to the unaffordable care, lack of accessibility, and other disparities. However, it is important to realize that PPD is more than just baby blues, and that it is very common and treatable. What can we do to emotionally support our new mothers? 

  • Urge legislators to implement laws that supports new mothers: 
    • Through House Bill 174 of 2022, which received final passage within Senate Bill 178, Kentucky mothers eligible for Medicaid can access continuous, uninterrupted health care up to 12 months postpartum – the most vulnerable time for mom and baby
  •  Implement telehealth systems in medical practices to help tackle healthcare disparities: 
    • New mothers in underrepresented or underprivileged areas often receive inadequate healthcare. This healthcare inequity puts mothers, especially mothers of color, at an increased risk of obstetric complications. Through the use of telehealth, all mothers can have the opportunity to receive adequate postpartum counseling from the comfort of their homes. 
  • Advocate for Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities that support maternal health: 
    • Support maternal mental health by requiring postpartum depression screenings at appointments after birth – SB 135 would, among other things, require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to make publicly available information and an assessment tool on postpartum depression and other related mental health disorders 
    • Strengthen Kentucky’s families and workforce by conducting a study focused on developing a Paid Family Leave infrastructure that is best suited for the Commonwealth 

Lyba Masroor

Adjusting to a new baby can already be hard enough, so it is important that we ensure the proper emotional support for our new mothers. With sufficient change, Kentucky mothers will be able to care for themselves and for their new babies in a stress-free manner.

As someone who is interested in a career within women’s health, I find interest in easing and solving maternal healthcare issues – especially maternal healthcare disparities among women of color. I find these disparities extremely saddening, especially since I am a woman of color. I hope to one day not only have a career within women’s health, but also be an advocate in my field. 

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