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Navigating Mental Health During the Perinatal Period

Everyone needs help at different times in their life. Bringing a child into the world is a profound journey, but through the joy and anticipation, many mothers silently struggle with mental health challenges before, during and after pregnancy, which is also known as the perinatal period. Hoag’s Maternal Mental Health Program is a collaboration between the Women’s Health Institute and the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute. We understand the importance of identifying and treating mental health conditions throughout the perinatal period to ensure healthy outcomes for both mothers and babies.

“Pregnancy and childbirth are transformative experiences that can trigger a whirlwind of emotions. From the excitement of hearing your baby’s heartbeat for the first time to the anxiety of impending motherhood, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. But, if these emotions become overwhelming or persistent, it’s essential to know help is available. Seeking support is not a sign of weakness but rather a courageous step towards healing,” said Mercedes Szpunar, M.D., Ph.D., the physician director of the Maternal Mental Health Program at Hoag.

Through Hoag’s Maternal Mental Health Program, we recognize the critical need to address mental health concerns at every stage of motherhood. By providing comprehensive care before, during and after pregnancy, we strive to promote optimal well-being for both mothers and their babies, ensuring a healthier future for families. Our Maternal Mental Health Program operates on four fundamental principles, each aimed at nurturing the mental wellness of mothers:

  1. Universal Screening: At the heart of Hoag’s approach is the belief that early detection is key. We promote screening in physician clinical offices for maternal mental health needs during pre-conception, pregnancy and postpartum.
  2. Connection to Support Services: Timely access to support services can make all the difference. Through a dedicated support line, we connect mothers with therapists, psychiatrists, nurses and other essential resources.
  3. Early Intervention and Treatment: The Maternal Mental Health Outpatient Clinic at Hoag provides comprehensive mental health evaluation and treatment options for pregnant and postpartum women struggling with a variety of mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar spectrum, obsessive compulsive disorder and sleep disturbances, as well as other conditions.
  4. Community Education: Our community education goal is to decrease the stigma and increase awareness about the importance of including maternal mental health as part of comprehensive pregnancy and postpartum care.

In addition, we offer online support groups:

Prenatal Support Group

This virtual support group prepares moms for the transition into motherhood.

Postpartum Support Group

This virtual support group is designed for moms to connect and gain support in postpartum.

Postpartum Group Therapy

A virtual six-week group psychotherapy program to support new mothers with postpartum adjustment.

Mindfulness for Pregnant and New Moms

This virtual workshop will guide you through meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises to foster an inner shift from the struggles and stresses of your daily lives while pregnant or after delivering.

Remember, you are not alone. Help is available and healing is possible. To learn more about Hoag’s Maternal Mental Health Program, visit or call 949-764-8191.