Planning For Another Baby with A History of Postpartum Depression

Shoshana Bennett writes in her book Postpartum Depression For Dummies,

“Women who have had PPD previously have at least a 50 percent chance of having their PPD reoccur with a subsequent baby.” (p. 316)

We have screened over 16,000 women for risk factors for postpartum depression and anxiety throughout the three Beaumont Hospitals — over 14,000 at Beaumont Royal Oak. In the past year, many of the moms whom we screened and supported during that first year of our program, have become pregnant and/or delivered another baby.

Many of these moms have contacted us during their pregnancy to discuss what they can do to plan for this new baby. We are able to help them to understand what their risk is for experiencing PPD/Anxiety again, discuss strategies and steps to decrease the odds of recurrence and to ensure they have a support system and tools in place should they suffer from PPD/Anxiety with the birth of the new baby.

Like most things, every woman is different in how they decide to prepare for pregnancy after PPD. Some moms choose to take their chances, do nothing and hope they are part of the 50 percent who do not have recurrence. Some women continue the meds they started after the episode of PPD throughout their entire subsequent pregnancy, many women restart meds at some point during the pregnancy in hopes of heading off possible symptoms, some start back on their medication the day after delivery, some women never utilized medication, but restart or continue individual counseling or other wellness programs that helped in the past, and we have several moms who have attended our support groups during their pregnancies.

When assisting moms with this sort of planning, we often use a great tool that I was able to help Maryanne Kenerson, RN of Beaumont Community Health and Education to create, The Postpartum Wellness Plan. This worksheet is shared with all parents who participate in Beaumont’s childbirth education classes, and is a wonderful tool that helps parents to document who are the support people who are able to help them after baby is born, who can stay with them, prepare meals, do household chores, what is their plan for getting sleep, who can they call with breastfeeding questions, baby care questions, how will they cope with emotional changes, who are potential babysitters, what are plans for return to work, or staying home. It is a great way to get parents thinking and talking about what they will need when a new baby arrives.

For women who have experienced PPD in the past we also talk about what were her symptoms before, what to look for, what should support people look for, what treatments or meds worked in the past, who are mom’s physicians, does she have a therapist and/or psychiatrist, who will she call if she needs assistance, and what will she do in an emergency.

Having a plan in place helps moms at risk for PPD/Anxiety feel a sense of control, they know what they are doing to decrease their odds of recurrence, and they know what to do if they begin experiencing symptoms. One mom stated, “just having this plan gives me piece of mind and relieves anxiety.”

–Kelly Ryan, MSW, Parenting Program, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator

2 Responses to “Planning For Another Baby with A History of Postpartum Depression”

  1. 1 Anonymous July 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

    GREAT article, Kelly! Thank you for all that you do to help families feel a sense of hope and “piece of mind.”
    How wonderful that you have touched literally thousands of women / families, providing critical tools including education, support and direction. Kudos to Beaumont for providing such a great program!

  1. 1 It’s Official! May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month | Beaumont Parenting Program Trackback on May 22, 2014 at 7:45 am

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