Celebrating National Women’s Health Week

May 15th, 2013

New Moms & Mental Health: Tips for National Women’s Health Week

Nancy C. Lee, M.D.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health-Women’s Health
Director, Office on Women’s Health

As the director of the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I care deeply about the health and wellbeing of women and girls. One critical element of women’s health, however, gets overlooked or minimized far too frequently — and that’s mental health.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. In fact, the two are closely connected and interrelated. Take the opportunity this National Women’s Health Week (May 12–18) to learn strategies to improve your mental health, including ways to cope with stress.

Women are especially vulnerable to developing depression when trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, and after childbirth. About 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers suffer from depression.  And women who are depressed during pregnancy are at greater risk for developing depression after giving birth. Women’s experiences after giving birth are tremendously varied. They can range from incredibly happy and excited to anxious and overwhelmed. Or new mothers may experience the normal “baby blues”, the more serious condition of postpartum depression, or even more serious problems.

What’s the good news? Expectant and new mothers can get help to either prevent or treat these potential health issues.  If you have negative thoughts about your pregnancy or baby, please don’t keep these feelings to yourself. Tell someone you trust like a family member or friend. And remember to call your healthcare provider right away. You don’t need to feel desperate before you reach out to your doctor, nurse, or physician assistant. Thanks to the health care law, a healthcare professional within your health insurance network must offer screening for depression free-of-charge, with no copayment fee and no co-insurance fee. You do not need to first meet your deductible, either.

What can you do if you don’t have insurance or you just want to explore new options? Here’s something to ease your mind: Thanks to the health care law, the Health Insurance Marketplace will open this October. The Marketplace will give Americans who are uninsured or who buy their own health insurance a new way to shop online for insurance. For the first time, Americans will be able to go to one place to get accurate, understandable information on different health insurance plans and to make apples-to-apples comparisons of these plans.  Learn more at and to get ready for enrollment by signing up for email updates.

Remember, mental health is important to your overall health. Seeking help is good for you and for your family. Your baby deserves a happy, healthy new beginning. You deserve to be a happy, healthy pregnant woman and a happy, healthy mom.

Share, Learn, Tell. Share this post with a woman you love. Learn more about mental health and pregnancy by visiting the Office on Women’s Health. Tell us how you are celebrating National Women’s Health Week through the Office on Women’s Health Facebook and Twitter pages.