The postpartum period refers to the first six weeks after childbirth, which is usually when a new mom adjusts and heals post birth, while also bonding with her baby. This also is a time for post-delivery checkups with their doctors.
Some moms may experience an unexpected complication or a traumatic birth, such as an emergency c-section, which can lead to experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As many as 16% of new mothers experience postpartum PTSD, which can affect their ability to connect with their child and bond with their baby.
To help these new moms, the Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach created best practice protocols on how to help identify these mothers and help get them the tools and resources they need.
These new best practice protocols are a standard set of guidelines used by the BirthCare Center to support mothers during and after an unexpected birth complication and provides resources to help women heal – physically, mentally, and emotionally. To best support mothers, the BirthCare Center team is committed to ensure protocols are followed so that the mother can receive timely care:
- If a patient is experiencing an unexpected birth complication, nurses will use the principles of psychological first aid during an event to help minimize the risk of PTSD. These events happen most often in Labor & Delivery; however, some can happen in post-partum.
- Labor & Delivery nurses will then communicate what has happened, providing details of the event to the post-partum nurse as part of the hand off report from unit to unit.
- Post-partum nurses will use the Experience of Medical Trauma Scale – Emotional Discomforts (EMTS) to determine whether the patient is at increased risk of developing PTSD.
- If the patient’s screening score shows increased risk, a social worker is asked to come in to meet with the patient and educate them on signs and symptoms of acute stress disorder and PTSD.
- The patient is then educated on outpatient resources available should they feel they are in need of additional support.
Patients are also given a postpartum discharge book, which includes a list of resources for women who think they might be experiencing PTSD.
The new BirthCare Center best practice protocols were created in alignment with the Joint Commission to create a standard support for patients during and after an unexpected birth complication, such as:
- Unexpected c-section
- High blood-pressure complications
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Unexpected NICU admission for the baby
- Unexpected maternal ICU admission
- Perceived trauma due to deviation of the birth plan
- Severe Breastfeeding anxiety
- History of Personal trauma, if the patient self-discloses
- Lack of trust in the health care system, if the patient self-discloses
The BirthCare Center new best practice protocols support mothers at risk of developing PTSD. Mothers with postpartum PTSD may want to avoid people or institutions that are associated with childbirth, such as doctors and hospitals, and can have feelings of hypervigilance, fear, and intrusive thoughts.
The Cherese Mari Laulhere BirthCare Center is a dedicated center for expectant women, providing compassionate quality health during pregnancy in private rooms throughout the birthing journey. The BirthCare Center offers a comprehensive program of research, diagnosis, treatment, educational resources, maternity classes, and individual and family support programs all under one roof. The BirthCare center has received multiple awards for having a C-section rate lower than the state average, meaning the teams avoid unnecessary C-sections, which reduces the chances of risks.