Postpartum Progress Announces Postpartum Depression Bill of Rights for Mothers

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Katharine Stone is the founder and editor of Postpartum Progress, the leading blog on postpartum depression.

Postpartum Progress Announces Postpartum Depression 
Bill of Rights for Mothers

Postpartum Progress Announces Postpartum Depression Bill of Rights for Mothers

While we have made progress, there is still much to do to ensure women with postpartum depression and other maternal mental illnesses are identified and quickly and effectively treated so they can be the moms they want to be.

Postpartum Progress (postpartumprogress.org), a national nonprofit organization that raises awareness of postpartum depression (PPD), is launching the first Postpartum Depression Bill of Rights for pregnant and new mothers.

Given the lack of consistency in screening, limited healthcare provider education and persistent stigma, it is important for pregnant and new mothers to be aware of their rights in terms of how they should be treated and helped for PPD, the most common complication of childbirth. One in seven mothers in the US struggle with postpartum depression each year, yet only 15% ever receive professional help. Postpartum Progress believes that every new mother should have the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of mental health, regardless of geographic location, marital status, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

To that end, the PPD & Maternal Mental Health Bill of Rights states that every new mother should have:

1. The right to be heard fully about her perinatal mental health without dismissal, stigma or downplay of her concerns or symptoms. She has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

2. The right to be screened for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression by trained healthcare providers using an evidence-based screening tool delivered with compassion and professionalism. She should be informed of the purpose of the screening, what the results of her screen are and how those results will be used to help her.

3. The right to be treated by healthcare providers who give her accurate information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including:

  •     Her risk factors
  •     The wide variety of symptoms women may experience
  •     The difference between normal new mom stress and postpartum depression
  •     The difference between postpartum psychosis and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
  •     The fact that symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy or within the first year postpartum, and may last beyond the first year without treatment
  •     The fact that she can continue to breastfeed (if she chooses) while being treated for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
  •     The long-term impact on both her and her child of untreated perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

4. The right to be informed of the variety of evidence-based treatment options for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like PPD, postpartum anxiety/OCD, postpartum psychosis and antenatal depression. Her healthcare provider should discuss what she may experience with treatment, including potential side effects, how long it may take for treatments to fully take effect and how to reach him or her if there are problems. She has the right to know her treatment options and take part in decisions about her care. She has the right to ask about the pros and cons of any treatment.

5.    The right to seek a second opinion, or to ask for a referral to a mental health specialist.

6.    The right to be supported by those around her with respect and dignity as she recovers from this serious illness.

“We know that these rights do not reflect the current experience many women are having in places across the U.S. and around the world,” said Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress. “While we have made progress, there is still much to do to ensure women with postpartum depression and other maternal mental illnesses are identified and quickly and effectively treated so they can be the moms they want to be. This Bill of Rights is our stake in the ground. This is what women expect and this is what women deserve, and this is what we are working toward.”

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Postpartum Progress Inc. (postpartumprogress.org) is a registered 501c3 focused on vastly improving support for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis and depression during pregnancy. Katherine Stone, creator of the world’s top blog on PPD at postpartumprogress.com, founded the organization.

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Katharine Stone

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