A Utah lawmaker is working on a bill to expand access to treatment for women suffering from postpartum depression.
Most new moms have experienced the “baby blues”—heightened emotion or sadness following the birth of a child. But according to the Utah Department of Health, those feelings don’t go away for about 15% of women—and that’s postpartum depression.
Republican Representative Edward Redd is a mental health physician in Logan. He says when postpartum depression goes untreated, it can negatively affect the mental health of mother and baby. That’s why he’s working on a bill to make access to care easier.
“You’re treating two people here,” Redd says. “You’re treating the woman who’s suffering from depression, but you’re also helping the child form normal bonding relationships with his or her mother.”
Right now, pregnant women who don’t normally qualify for Medicaid may still get prenatal care through that’s called a Medicaid waiver. But that waiver program ends 60 days after the baby arrives, and Rep. Redd says most cases of postpartum depression aren’t diagnosed until after those 60 days pass.
“Postpartum depression sometimes requires hospitalization, sometimes requires really expensive ongoing medication and consistent therapy, sometimes on a weekly basis or several times a week when people are suffering severely,” Redd says.
Dr. Kirtly Jones specializes in reproductive endocrinology. She was glad to hear about the bill, but challenged lawmakers to take it even further to make sure new moms are getting the healthcare they need.
“If women end up with other conditions that are specifically related to the pregnancy, then I think that should be covered,” Jones says.
Lawmakers will consider the bill in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Jan. 23.