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Published on October 19, 2018

Women's Health: Postpartum Depression, Waiting the 40 weeks and the Mammography Scholarship Fund

Women's Health: Postpartum Depression, Wait 40 Weeks and Mammography Scholarship Fund

In this Fox 8 House Call series, Cone Health experts discuss women's health topics, including:

Postpartum Depression

The majority of new mothers experience at least mild emotional changes in the first couple of days and weeks postpartum, called the “baby blues.” The perinatal period, from pregnancy up to the first year after giving birth, is also a time when many women, up to 1 in 5, experience a range of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs). The most well-known is postpartum depression, but PMADs can also include anxiety disorders, or, in rare cases, postpartum psychosis.

Preventing, or lessening, the symptoms of PMADs starts in pregnancy and includes the following:

  1. Making sure you are getting enough sleep.
  2. Making sure you are getting adequate nutrition and physical exercise.
  3. Finding support before the baby is born, and not being afraid to ask for help (friends, family, community).
  4. Talking to your medical provider about your past history, or family history, of any mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder), past trauma, or even life stress that may increase your risk.
  5. Educating yourself on the symptoms of PMADs. Educating your family and friends, as they may notice the symptoms first.
  6. Knowing that PMADs are treatable during pregnancy and postpartum; the earlier, the better, for both mom and baby.

Symptoms of PMADs include sadness, crying, changes in sleep and/or appetite, difficulty with concentration, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, not enjoying things you used to enjoy, feelings of guilt and shame, unexplainable physical symptoms, thoughts of death or dying, increased feelings of anxiety over the baby’s well-being and difficulty bonding with the baby. If your symptoms persist longer than two weeks, it is extremely important to seek the help and treatment of a provider who knows how to treat PMADs.

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders often go undiagnosed and untreated, and women are left to feel they are suffering alone. Advocate for yourself, your friends and your family members who may be experiencing PMADs. If you are experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to talk to your medical provider about treatment options.

Jamie McMannes, MSW, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker at Cone Health’s Center for Women’s Healthcare at Women’s Hospital.

Wait the 40 Weeks

A pregnancy is considered full term at 40 weeks. This is the body’s natural time to deliver and allows the baby to fully develop before birth. Some babies will come a little earlier or later on their own. Unless there are complications, most physicians recommend that women wait to induce labor until after a woman has reached full term or later.

A recent study was conducted to examine whether inducing labor at 39 weeks would decrease the risk of fetal death. While the study’s findings did not support that, it did find it does not increase the risk of C-section and may decrease the risk of some medical conditions. This does not mean that everyone should deliver at 39 weeks, only that if a mother does get induced early there isn’t an increased risk to the child.

Physicians still recommend that expecting mothers wait to induce labor until they are full term as long as there are no complications. Each individual pregnancy is different, and your care team will work with you to decide what options are best for you.

Carolyn Harraway-Smith, MD, is an obstetrician and gynecologist for Center for Women’s Healthcare, Cone Health Women’s Hospital faculty practice group.

The Mammography Scholarship Fund

One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Fortunately, breast cancer mortality rates have been declining since 1989 due to the improvements in detection and treatment. Mammography remains the gold standard in the early detection of breast cancer, although not all women can afford them. To support the women of our community, Cone Health created the Mammography Scholarship Fund.

The recent Women’s Only 5K Walk & Run is one of the events that Cone Health holds each year to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer support services in our community. This year, the race raised $91,338.85 for both the Mammography Scholarship Fund and the Alight Program. The Mammography Scholarship Fund provides free or reduced screening mammograms to women who otherwise might not be able to afford one. The Cone Health Alight Program offers educational, emotional and financial support for local women during their treatments.

Through the generosity of our community, the Mammography Scholarship Fund and other support services helped 593 local women receive a mammogram from October 2017 to September 2018. The Women’s Only race isn’t the only way to support the women of our community, your donations can directly affect the lives of many all year long. To learn more about donating to the Mammography Scholarship Fund, visit

If you want to learn more about how to apply for the Mammography Scholarship, visit

Pam Barrett, FACHE, is the senior philanthropy officer for Cone Health.

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