OSDH partners with Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative to increase access to perinatal mental health support for Oklahoma families

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3, 2021) — Perinatal depression and anxiety are the most common complication from pregnancy. The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Service has partnered with the Oklahoma Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative (OPQIC) to help Oklahoma families connect with a growing list of perinatal mental health experts.

The OPQIC launched in 2014 with a mission to provide leadership and engage interested stakeholders in a collaborative effort to improve the health outcomes for Oklahoma women and infants using evidence-based practice guidelines and quality improvement processes. OPQIC works with Oklahoma birthing hospitals and perinatal care providers of all types to improve perinatal care of Oklahoma mothers and newborns by collaborating with partners to identify and remove barriers to providing safe, quality perinatal care.

“Taking care of your mental health is equally important as your physical health when thinking about becoming pregnant, while you’re pregnant, or when having just had a new baby,” Public Health Social Work Coordinator James Craig said.

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) is the umbrella term for mood and anxiety disorders that occur during pregnancy or up to one year postpartum. These terms encompass women (and men) who experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum blues, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder and postpartum psychosis.

As with every group, COVID-19 has likely exacerbated the stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms associated with perinatal mental health felt by new parents.

According to Craig, a great way to think about how to prepare for this time is to come up with a postpartum plan.  Similar to a birth plan, this is a plan for how to prepare for the time after you have had your baby and helps you think through the questions you may want to have answers for during this time, including:

  • Who in my life will I be able to call for support?
  • How do I feel about having visitors come to my home after the baby is born?
  • How will my partner/spouse support me in caring for the baby after we are home from the hospital?

A list of providers trained in perinatal mental health can be found at https://opqic.org/forpatients/patient-resources.

Postpartum Support International (PSI) also has a local chapter in Oklahoma with resource coordinators that can help you find help, and many online support groups for parents. For more information visit www.postpartum.net/get-help/ or call 1-800-944-4773 (1-971-203-7773 for Spanish).

Additional information on Maternal Mental Health can be found at https://oklahoma.gov/health/family-health/improving-infant-outcomes/maternal-mental-health.html.