General intensive programs usually can accommodate these women, but it is ideal to refer this population to perinatal intensive programs. Postpartum Support International () lists the nationwide inpatient and partial perinatal programs as well as regional and local services. An example of inpatient perinatal care is the women’s unit at Zucker Hillside Hospital (Northwell Health System, Glen Oaks, N.Y.), which houses an inpatient perinatal program. As a psychiatrist on the unit, I treat acute symptoms such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, mania, and catatonia that occur during the perinatal and postpartum periods. Given the severity of symptoms, I use a wide range of psychiatric medications with the possibility of electroconvulsive therapy when indicated. Psychotherapy staff on the unit offer specialized perinatal, mothers, and dialectical behavioral therapy groups. Breast pumps are available for women who wish to breastfeed. Accommodations are made for babies and children to visit their mother when clinically appropriate. Once discharged, women often are referred to Zucker Hillside’s own perinatal outpatient clinic for continued treatment. Similar models exist in select inpatient units as well as an increasing number of partial programs across the United States.
Psychiatric care for pregnant and new mothers can be challenging, but it is also immensely rewarding. Restoring a mother’s mental health usually leads to increased emotional stability for her entire family. Given the prevalence of maternal mental health disorders, psychiatrists in nearly every setting will encounter this population of women. With dedicated time devoted to reviewing the literature and learning about local resources, psychiatrists can feel comfortable treating women throughout the childbearing experience.
Dr. Reinstein is a psychiatry attending at Zucker Hillside Hospital. Her clinical interests include reproductive psychiatry and family therapy, with a specific focus on maternal mental health. Dr. Reinstein completed her adult psychiatry residency training at Montefiore Hospital/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, after graduating from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yeshiva University, New York, with a BA in biology. She is one of the recipients of the 4th Annual Resident Recognition Award for Excellence in Family Oriented Care.