Crouse Hospital has opened a new clinic that will help new moms get through one of the biggest obstetric complications there is, postpartum depression and psychosis.
The women who walk into the new clinic suffer from more than the “baby blues,” a brief hormonally induced period of sadness after giving birth.
"They start to feel guilty, they feel people would be better off without them, they feel societal pressure, they’re not sleeping," said Christine Kowaleski, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Crouse who has counseled women with these symptoms for years.
Kowaleski said it has come to be known as perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, a growing medical diagnosis, that affects one in five new mothers.
“This is the number one obstetrical complication, number one,” Kowaleski said. “Moms come in and say, I’m not sleeping. My life has changed. I don’t like my life right now. And that’s hard for them to say, because it’s supposed to be the happiest time of their life.”
This new clinic helps new moms on a number of fronts: therapy, medication management and integrated medicine, things like massage and lactation consultations. Kowaleski said without treatment, the disorder can lead to chronic depression, and in some rare cases, suicide. Maternal depression can impact an infant as well.
Kathleen Miller-Murphy also works at the clinic and said something as simple as a relaxation room or massage can destress a new mom. She said ultimately, women don’t have to go through this alone.
“Women put so much pressure on themselves, and we need to create that village so that people can feel comfortable reaching out and supporting each other,” Miller-Murphy said. “Because that’s how we get the women through this, support.”