Last Wednesday, the UNC Medical Center opened an outpatient clinic for women with postpartum depression, and on November 3rd opened an inpatient unit for women with postpartum depression.  The inpatient unit is called “the first of its kind” in the United States, and is a progressive example of specialized health care initiatives for improved screening, diagnosis, and treatment of postpartum mood disorders in the US.

When a woman with a postpartum mood disorder requires inpatient treatment, she is typically admitted to a general inpatient psychiatric unit and is thus separated from her child.  Many new mothers – even those with severe depression – are reluctant to pursue this treatment option, and hospitalization may interfere with breastfeeding and bonding.   Furthermore, general psychiatric units often do not address the specific needs of new mothers.  The UNC inpatient unit is modeled after similar units in Great Britain where the mother may recive treatment along with her baby.  This unit consists of six beds, gliders for rocking babies and breast pumps for nursing mothers. There is also room for therapy and visits with family members.  If necessary, women may stay overnight.  To our knowledge, this is the only hospital in the United States that offers specialized inpatient treatment for mothers with postpartum mood disorders.

For more information, please read this article in the News & Observer from October 22, 2008.

Katherine Donovan, BA
Ruta Nonacs, MD, PhD

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UNC School of Medicine Center for Women’s Mood Disorders

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