Women’s Reproductive Mental Health
For most women, pregnancy or planning for pregnancy can be a time of physical and mental well-being. However, recent studies show that up to 20% of women may suffer from mood or anxiety disorders during or after pregnancy. For women who are being treated for a psychiatric disorder, pregnancy brings additional worry about the use of medications that may harm the fetus. How does a mother balance her own mental health and well-being with that of her child? A new program offered at UT Health Austin, can help pregnant women, new mothers or those planning to become pregnant with personalized mental wellness plans. Women’s reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Newport explains the importance of planning and options for women to KXAN’s Jacqulyn Powell.
What conditions does Women’s Reproductive Mental Health entail?
Dr. Newport says they are available to help women throughout the process of childbearing from preconception planning, through pregnancy and in to the postpartum period. He says it’s actually preferable for women to come in before they try to conceive so that the clinicians can help them tailor a safe plan for their pregnancy.
What mental health treatments are available for pregnant women?
Primarily, the role of the clinician in this program is to help women make informed decisions regarding the use of medications. Whether they are appropriate to use or not, and if so, which medications would carry the safest profile for mother and child. The team also has a network of referral options to help women find access to other resources including psychotherapy, and other types of programs.
Is it safe to take psychiatric medication during pregnancy?
Dr. Newport says that he would never say that any medication is safe for use during pregnancy. He says the better question for patients is “which poses the greater risk?” Taking the medication during pregnancy and exposing your baby to it, or not taking the medicine and remaining ill, if that is the only option you have. Patients and their doctor need to weigh the risk to mother and to baby of taking the medicine or leaving the illness untreated. Dr. Newport emphasizes that one of the aspects, that is not well appreciated and risky, is leaving mental health conditions, like depression, untreated.
Does a woman need a referral or can they self-refer?
Women are welcome to self-refer into this program. Because it is so important for women to make timely decisions, that the clinicians endeavor to see patients within a week of contacting the clinic. Patients can call 1-833-UT-CARES for information or appointments.