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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Proposed Postpartum Depression Legislation

By: Shannon Hegy

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) -- Having a baby can be a blissful, exciting time for a woman, but for those suffering from postpartum depression, it can be a painful and frightening experience.

"I was feeling overwhelmed.  I was feeling guilty, that I wasn't doing enough for my kids," said postpartum depression survivor, Elizabeth Oakes.

Oakes' bout with the condition was so severe that she had to check herself into a hospital.  She says she felt suicidal, and was having irrational thoughts about her children.  Oakes eventually recovered, but her path to healing was a long one, plagued by a lack of help and resources.

Her story isn't unique.

"I wanted someone to say, 'This is what could happen.  This is what's happening.  This is what so many mother's experience,'" said Liz Friedman, another postpartum depression survivor.  "I couldn't find that anywhere."

Now, these local women along with advocates from across the state are trying to get a bill passed to ensure no mother faces the condition alone.

House bill #3897 would require OB/GYN's, midwives, pediatricians and other primary care providers to screen mothers regularly for depression both during and after their pregnancy.  It also calls for referral lists of clinicians and support groups around the state, and professional and public education on postpartum depression.

"What we're trying to do is bring this issue out of the shadows," said Melanie DeSilva, Executive Director of the group MotherWoman in Northampton.

With local obstetricians on their side, advocates are confident the bill will pass.

"Postpartum depression is incredibly important," said Dr. Tucker Kueny, director of midwifery care at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.  "I think anything that formalizes that is a step in the right direction."

Proposed Postpartum Depression Legislation

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