UVA Health has launched a new outpatient mental-health clinic specializing in caring for women during pregnancy and after childbirth.
The UVA Health Perinatal Mood Disorders Clinic is a partnership between the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. The clinic is led by Jennifer L. Payne, MD, a psychiatrist specializing in reproductive psychiatry; Ginny Bowers, CNM, IBCLC, a certified nurse midwife who is training with Payne for certification as a psychiatric nurse practitioner; and Chantal Scott, MD, an OB/Gyn specializing in pregnancy and birth.
UVA Health researchers have highlighted pregnancy and the early months of motherhood as a time when mental-health conditions often develop. For example, a study led by Payne and published last year found that a significant number of new mothers self-reported postpartum depression symptoms, ranging from 10% among 18- to 24-year-olds to 6.5% for 35- to 39-year-olds and 6.9% among women 40 and older.
“The perinatal period is a high-risk period for psychiatric illness, and it’s not always obvious to healthcare providers not trained in this area how to manage psychiatric illness during this time,” Payne said.
The new clinic sees patients who are pregnant or who have given birth within the last year. The clinical team also provides one-time pre-pregnancy consults for women who want to plan how to manage their psychiatric medications during pregnancy.
“We are incredibly fortunate to be able to offer this desperately needed resource to our obstetric patients suffering from mental health disorders,” Scott said. “While we still have more work to do to in providing comprehensive mental health support for our vulnerable patients, this really is a huge step forward for obstetric and psychiatric care at UVA.”
The clinic sees patients on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, with plans to add more appointment times eventually.
“As a midwife, I have seen the devastating effects of perinatal mood disorders on pregnant individuals and their families. I have seen individuals who are so depressed that they cannot care for themselves or their babies. It is heartbreaking to witness this suffering, and it reminds us of the importance of early identification and treatment of perinatal mood disorders,” Bowers said. “I am thrilled to be able to help provide this much-needed service for UVA Health and for our community.”
Appointments are available by calling 434.243.4646.