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Monica Hau Hien Le knows women who struggled to care for their newborn babies because they were suffering from postpartum depression. Some are close friends.

Many women describe the time after child birth as difficult and experience what is commonly known as the “baby blues.” Symptoms can include crying spells, mood swings, and loss of appetite and usually last a few days. But for some new moms, these feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of energy don’t go away and symptoms get worse.

Women who feel this way – about 1 in 8 new moms often have a hard time caring for their new babies. And research shows that postpartum depression actually impacts the mother’s ability to bond with her child which can affect the child’s development including issues with verbal delays and behavior problems.

“Pretty much if it’s one in eight we all know women who suffer through this,” said Le who is the Medical Director of the MassHealth Primary Care Clinician Plan.

Le said she was struck by the fact that even though many women were experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, few were seeking help – in Massachusetts only about half of women with postpartum depression seek help from a health care provider, according to 2009/2010 surveillance report from the Department of Public Health. Most women who do receive treatment get better, said Le.

Many moms feel guilty or ashamed about feeling depressed or overwhelmed. Health care providers can help take away this stigma by talking to moms about postpartum depression and making it a routine part of their care.  Starting in 2016, MassHealth will reimburse providers for postpartum depression screening. It’s an effort to increasing screening rates and in turn, provide women with the help they need.

Since 2010, the Massachusetts Postpartum Depression (PPD) Commission has been working to increase awareness and support for postpartum depression in the state including MCPAP for Moms, a new program to help providers screen and treat postpartum depression.

“I think Massachusetts is in a great place because we have this really strong, grassroots movement to do this screening and promote these networks,” said Le.

Written By:


Deputy Communications Director, EHS

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