Perinatal – Everything You Want to Know

This article is all about things perinatal. We will cover the definition, perinatal depression, perinatal care, and discuss other pertinent facts and statistics.

Perinatal Definition

The term, Perinatal, is commonly defined as the period of time from conception and up to a year after giving birth.

According to the World Health Organization, perinatal health refers to health from 22 completed weeks of gestation until 7 completed days after birth.

What is the perinatal period?

The perinatal period describes the period from conception, throughout pregnancy, and up to the first year after a baby is born

The perinatal period, broadly defined, encompasses the time frame from one year before to 18 to 24 months after the birth of the child. This period constitutes a window of opportunity through which parent-infant interaction may be reinforced, offering the possibility of decreasing the risk of family dysfunction. National Library of Medicine

Perinatal Depression | Care Plus New Jersey

Perinatal Depression

Perinatal Depression is a mood disorder and refers to depressive symptoms occurring during pregnancy and/or after childbirth. The term, perinatal, is used as it acknowledges that depression associated with having a baby can also begin during pregnancy, not just during the postpartum period.

It is important to note that among women, the leading cause of disease-related disability is depression (World Health Organization, 2013). Perinatal depression, affecting one in seven women, is a common complication associated with pregnancy.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has long recommended depression screening for all women during well-woman visits, as well as over the course of the perinatal period.

Women identified at high risk, such as those with a history of depression or anxiety, should be screened/assessed/monitored more closely during the perinatal period, as the changes women experience during this time can exacerbate existing or underlying mental health symptoms.

Since many women experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression, often do not self-report, routine mental health screening by OB-GYN/Primary Care Physician is crucial part of well-woman visits for appropriate follow-up and treatment. A variety of treatment options, including lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication management are available to help women effectively manage and reduce the severity of depressive symptoms.

Perinatal Depression is typically classified into three main levels of severity-mild, moderate, severe.

Perinatal depression has been associated with many poor outcomes, including maternal, child and family unit challenges. Infants and young children of perinatally depressed mothers are more likely to have a difficult temperament, as well as cognitive and emotional delays (National Institutes of Health-NIH).

Perinatal Depression is treatable through Comprehensive, Integrative Perinatal Care.

Causes of Perinatal Depression | Care Plus New Jersey

What Causes Perinatal Depression?

Perinatal Depression is a mood disorder that has the potential to affect every mother—no matter what race, ethnicity, culture, or socioeconomic status of the mother and family. The mother is not at fault and does not somehow bring Perinatal depressive symptoms upon themselves.

Perinatal depression has no one specific cause. Several research findings suggest that the cause of perinatal depression may be genetic or environmental. A person’s stress during pregnancy can also contribute to perinatal depression.

Behavioral Health Treatment Services at CarePlus NJ, Inc.

CarePlus NJ’s Maternal and Family Center (MFC) offers mental health and supportive services for all women (pre-conception, prenatal, and up to two years postpartum) and families, as well as those who may have suffer the loss of a pregnancy or young children throughout the State of New Jersey, who are affected by Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Specialty care is provided with expertise in treating the whole family from a holistic, trauma-informed approach.

Comprehensive services include screening, diagnosis, risk assessment, outpatient mental health and substance use services, medication evaluation and management, integrated primary care, family support and education, case management, peer support, care coordination, and support groups. Collaboration and linkage with both internal and external services to address any mental and/or physical health concerns, as well as any resources to remove barriers to care as possible, are an integral part of the quality human services offered at CarePlus NJ.

Use of our online client portal is encouraged to make the initial contact for treatment, which then prompts follow up by our Admissions team to further explore your needs and schedule for an intake, as appropriate. Treatment is made as convenient as possible for our perinatal population, as we offer hybrid scheduling (both in-person and Telehealth sessions with treatment providers).

Our dedicated team of experts are specially trained in perinatal mental health, hold the PMH-C certification through Postpartum Support International, who offer counseling, support, medication management, linkage/referral for appropriate resources and services, and education related to to the impact of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders on the mother/birthing person, partner, childbirth, baby, as well as other children in the home.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an online tool for finding and completing mental health programs.

What is the Meaning of Perinatal Conditions?

Perinatal conditions are a range of health states that can affect both the mother and the baby during pregnancy and up to four weeks after delivery. Some examples of perinatal conditions include:

  • Maternal conditions: Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, substance use, and mental health conditions (PMADs)-such as Perinatal depression, Perinatal anxiety, Perinatal OCD, Perinatal Psychosis, Perinatal Panic Disorder, and Perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Birth defects: Spina bifida and other birth defects
  • Infections: Cytomegalovirus, tuberculosis, STDs, HIV/AIDS, and diarrheal diseases
  • Other conditions: Premature birth, low birthweight, birth asphyxia, birth trauma, nutritional deficiencies, and unnecessary C-sections.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 women are impacted by perinatal mental health conditions and 75% of individuals go untreated, leaving many suffering in silence. Perinatal mental health conditions are the leading cause of maternal deaths, with suicide and overdose being the leading cause of death for women in the first year following pregnancy.

NJ maternal mortality rates are among the worst in the nation. NJ ranks 47th in maternal deaths. For women and families of color, the statistics are even more extreme. Women of color are 3-4 times more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and childbirth and die from these complications than white women. 47 black women die, on average, for every 100,000 live births in NJ, compared to 20 nationally. A Black baby is 3.5x more likely than a white baby to die before his/her 1st birthday. In NJ, a Black Mom is 7.5x more likely than a white Mom to die from maternity-related complications. Women of color enter pregnancy and child birth suffering the impacts of intergenerational trauma and institutional racism including a history of receiving lower quality of care.

What is difference between perinatal and prenatal?

Perinatal is generally defined as the period from conception to up to one year after birth and prenatal is defined as the period during pregnancy (before birth).