Arlington Letter: Mom’s Health Month

Arlington Letter: Mom’s Health Month

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Having a new baby … the happiest time of a woman’s life, right?

Not always.

Up to 1 in 5 new mothers will experience anxiety or depression, turning joy into sadness, worry, and confusion. These are the most common complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and they affect the entire family. Mothers who are depressed are more likely to neglect health care advice. Children with a depressed mother have increased likelihood of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive delays.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the Virginia General Assembly has declared May as Maternal Mental Health Month. Meanwhile, several medical governing bodies recently addressed the issue:

  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends clinicians screen new and expectant mothers for anxiety and depression and encourages its members to begin medical treatment.

  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pediatricians screen new mothers at well child visits (pediatricians see mom and baby typically seven times in the first year of baby’s life).

  • American Academy of Family Physicians developed a toolkit to help screen and identify resources.

Virginia has a network of health care providers, mental health professionals, and volunteers to assist new and expectant mothers experiencing anxiety and depression. Postpartum Support Virginia, a non-profit organization, provides free assistance to new moms, including support groups and referrals to mental health professionals. Learn more at

Celebrate Mother’s Day in a special way this year. Ask a new mom how she is doing. And tell her about Postpartum Support Virginia, where she can find hope and help.

Adrienne Griffen