Parenting & Pregnancy: Women's Care puts focus on mental health

They’ve streamlined the process to get patients connected with help as soon as possible.

Posted: Jan 13, 2021 7:40 PM
Updated: May 3, 2021 11:22 AM

EUGENE, Ore. – Having a baby can be tough. Having a baby now can be even more stressful.

That’s why Women’s Care is going the extra mile to make sure moms-to-be are doing well physically and mentally.

“It’s definitely on the list of major life stresses, and you know, in most cases, it’s a good stress, but it’s still a new experience,” said Dr. Catherine York.

York knows a thing or two about delivering babies. She’s been doing it for more than 15 years. But over the years, her job has changed.

Not only does she focus on her patients’ physical health, she makes sure they’re mentally healthy as well – something Women’s Care has been screening all of their patients for over at least the past 10 years.

“Part of the screening process, in addition to being able to diagnose these things is just to open the door so patients do feel comfortable coming to us and asking, I feel this, I feel that, I’m having this emotion, it’s kind of worrying me,” York said.

Asking women if they needed help is one thing, but finding that care is another. That’s why Women’s Care teamed up with the Center for Family Development.

“Counseling is a huge component of mental health care,” York said.

They’ve streamlined the process to get patients connected with help as soon as possible.

“Trying to call a bunch of different places was getting overwhelming for patients,” she said.

Megan Post, director of programs, said they often see an overlap between mental and physical health issues. And the COVID-19 crisis has magnified the issue, not just for pregnant women, but for a lot of us.

“Particularly in the pregnant population -- a lot more isolation. People are pregnant having their babies. They’re already really isolated, already feel really overwhelmed. They’re tired,” Post said.

But how do you know when you need help? York said mood changes, feeling more anxious, irritable or sad for no reason are common. So are changes in your appetite or your sleeping patterns.

“I think a lot of times people have these feelings, but they don’t think that it’s something they should talk with us about: ‘I need to cope. Everybody has these problems,’” York said.

Post said it typically takes two to three weeks after someone gives birth for the baby blues to resolve.

Expecting and new moms can also find ways to connect with others through FaceTime or Zoom.

As York will tell you, sending new moms and their babies out into the world physically and mentally healthy will always be the most important part of her job.

“What we really hope for is that we can get these things treated, so it’s not their mood disorder that’s raising their baby. It’s themselves, and the best part of themselves,” York said.

York said if you’re ever having suicidal thoughts, it’s an emergency, and you need to get help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is open 24 hours a day seven days a week. Call 1-800-273-8255.

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