Help for soon-to-be and new moms
11/25/2020, 6 p.m.
Seven years ago in November 2013, I experienced a major turning point in my life. I had just given birth to beautiful boy/girl twins in July. I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband and I were temporarily living with my parents as we got adjusted to our new life.
On this particular night, the twins were hysterical, and I was exhausted. I didn’t know if I had even showered that day or not, nor did I remember the last time that I had eaten. Honestly, I didn’t know what day of the week it was.
Within moments of arriving home after work, my mother instantly saw that I was struggling and close to tears, and with no questions asked, swooped in to care for the twins and ordered me to get some rest.
The next day, I made a same-day appointment with my OB/GYN to talk about postpartum depression. My doctor had given me fair warning on what symptoms to look for beyond “baby blues.” I had known for a while that something was wrong, but this time, I had to get help immediately.
Tears streamed down my face as I sat quietly in the waiting room. The nurse, a mother of twins herself, led me into the exam room and embraced me. By the time I left, I felt relieved that I had sought help and received the appropriate resources to support me during that time.
During the beginning stages of my struggle, the tragedy involving Miriam Carey, the African-American mother who was killed after trying to ram her car through a White House barrier in a state of psychosis, was still fresh in the minds of Americans.
More recently, HB 42, introduced in the 2020 General Assembly session and passed by both the Virginia House of Representatives and the Virginia Senate, now requires the state Board of Medicine to issue an annual reminder to every licensed practitioner who provides primary, maternity or OB/GYN health care services to screen every patient who is pregnant, or who has been pregnant within the previous five years, for prenatal or postnatal depression or other depression. Additionally, the state Board of Medicine also must provide information about racial and economic disparities, highlighting the need for providers to be competent and be cognizant of how both factors impact patients.
It is imperative that we continue the conversa- tion about mental health issues such as postpartum depression, especially in the African-American community, where mental health is already a taboo topic. It is my hope that with this newest policy development, more women in need can be identified, supported and provided access to needed resources.
JASMINE NEVERSON CAMERON