How Fast Do We Need to Fix The Mamas?
The FDA has approved the first medication for postpartum depression, the intravenous drug Zulresso. While it’s a major accomplishment to be able to have a medication available to treat PPD, does it need to be administered intravenously?! Over 60 hours?! I mean, how fast do the mamas need to be fixed? Most women with PPD do get better with depression medication and talk therapy, or both. According to a CNN article one woman experienced relief in “12 to 18 hours” after the injection. I have such mixed feelings because I want moms to have all the help and ALL the tools that they need. But with a price tag of $34,000 pre-discounts and insurance, the cost is likely to be too high for most who need it most. With postpartum depression symptoms starting within weeks of giving birth, it would seem most beneficial at the onset. Allowing for smoother and faster bonding with your newborn baby but this can also come with challenges. It can be a difficult time for moms to get the time or take the time away from their children in the early months. Including needing care for the 60 hours that you’re at the hospital, you’ll need to make decisions about breastfeeding, formula feeding, or getting donated milk for the baby during that time. Due to the medication being brand new, there is no safety information regarding breastfeeding and it is currently recommended that any one being treated with Zulresso not breastfeed.
And what about the women who develop PPD after the first couple of months? The pressures women face after maternity leave only multiply and when they’ve returned to work and they have not only the worries of feeding and finding childcare but taking two consecutive days off of work (more if they experience any serious side effects). Stay-at-home moms often struggle to find community or outlets for activities, not to mention the financial challenges faced going from two incomes to one. I think it’s worth noting here that Zulresso users were not followed past the first 30 days of treatment. So many other factors can play a part in postpartum depression after that period. I also found that among the leading factors for postpartum depression is being from a low-income family. How will mothers with a low income afford this medicine or the time off of work? How do we help those who won’t or simply don’t have access?
Support. We - doulas, friends, sisters - start talking to women about their support networks during their pregnancy. We make sure they have one and if they don’t, we help them find it. We need to build support networks into our communities. In San Francisco women are receiving the help of doulas via a city funded program!! I know this may not be feasible for every city but maybe we can start with our own groups of friends? Or getting the number of a mom you’ve seen post about struggling a little more than usual? Checking in on one another even after the “postpartum period” is so important. I write “postpartum period” because it is officially defined as 6 months but almost every mom I know has felt some variation on the postpartum feels since the day they had children. Stay in touch with your mama friends! Be that annoying mama-friend who’s always telling them they’re amazing and that you’re in awe of them. I am that friend (sorry never sorry) but I am genuinely in awe of how we make it all work.
So if you’re struggling with depression or baby blues or something in between (no, it’s not just you!), please reach out! I’d love to help you find some resources to assist you in feeling better.
Do you have any feelings about Zulresso or the current treatments for PPD? Do you think support could be enough to help? Let me know what you think in the comments!