Prioritize well-being of new mothers
Vice President Kamala Harris returned to Los Angeles late last week to discuss Biden administration efforts to bolster maternal health.
Harris toured the nonprofit Baby2Baby in South Los Angeles which provides baby supplies to low-income mothers locally and nationally as well as providing information on available government support resources. Harris touted ongoing efforts “to support maternal health outcomes and maternal mental health’’ in a statement from her office. She spoke with a group of mothers about the importance of proper prenatal care, infant health, and postpartum depression.
“There are approximately 8 million women in our country right now who do not have Medicaid coverage who are of childbearing years,” Harris said. “And when we look at the challenges that a new mom faces, they are immense. One of the biggest issues that this group has..addressing the issue of diapers. One in three families that need diapers don’t have them.”
Harris was in Los Angeles in mid-April when she spent five days in the area. During that visit, she toured the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator and discussed efforts to build a “clean energy economy.’’ She also spoke outside Los Angeles City Hall following a march for reproductive rights.
She had been scheduled to make an appearance at Cal State Dominguez Hills on May 25 for a town hall meeting marking Mental Health Action Day. The Los Angeles Times reported that Harris pulled out of the event in a show of solidarity with striking Writers Guild of America members.
“Let’s understand that it is about meeting the essential needs of a newborn, of a baby,” Harris continued. “It is also then, obviously, about what that does in terms of anxiety, the stress, the emotional harm to that parent and to that mother, in particular.”
New and expecting mothers face not only changes to their lifestyles, but also changes to their bodies and hormones. Each woman’s experience is different. For some, accommodating the changes of pregnancy and having a baby may come easily–they will adopt new routines and their bodies will return to pre-pregnancy shape and chemistry with little difficulty.
For others, there may be physical and mental health struggles that arise. This includes the prenatal period–or time that a woman is pregnant–and the postpartum period, which is the first year after the baby is born. Depression is the most common maternal mental health disorder, followed by anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, birth-related PTSD), as well as bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis.
Mental Health America-Los Angeles, which provides counseling for persons with mental health needs, reports that mothers commonly experience “baby blues” or mood swings (occurring in about 80% of new mothers) that are the result of high hormonal fluctuations that occur during and immediately after childbirth.
Baby blues usually occur somewhere between three to five days after delivery but generally don’t last for more than a few weeks. While the condition is not considered a mental health disorder, Mental Health America stresses that if the situation lingers with constant feelings of depression for more than two weeks after childbirth, the problem may be more serious.
Mental Health America-Los Angeles has clinics in Downtown LA, Long Beach, Palmdale, Lancaster and Newhall. If you are a new mother and struggling with maintaining your well-being, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.