Classes in perinatal psychology after 19 months of COVID-19


or the final 25 years, my colleagues have spent noon on Wednesdays at scientific rounds as a gaggle – a time spent reviewing circumstances in perinatal psychiatry and vital new scientific findings within the literature that inform affected person care. Initially of the pandemic, my colleague Marlene Freeman, MD, and I began Digital Rounds on the Heart for Girls’s Psychological Well being to open our rounds to colleagues concerned in a number of facets of perinatal psychiatric care.

In my final column of 2021, I wished to take the chance to replicate on a few of what we’ve realized from 19 months of digital rounding as a group of clinicians in the course of the pandemic.


Telemedicine permits us to see into the houses, relationships, and environments of our pregnant and postpartum girls in a means we may by no means have imagined. It’s a chance to observe sufferers intently and intervene sooner fairly than later, which could have been constrained by pre–COVID-19 typical scheduled workplace appointments. Telemedicine additionally offers us a clearer sense of among the points confronted by underserved and marginalized populations of sufferers as we glance to extend outreach to these teams.

COVID-19 vaccines in being pregnant

We now know way more concerning the potential for COVID-19 to trigger issues throughout being pregnant than we did earlier within the pandemic. Though there could also be a wide range of elements fueling whether or not these within the basic inhabitants determine to get vaccinated or not, there may be no ambiguity within the message from our colleagues in obstetrics concerning the significance of vaccination for pregnant and postpartum girls.

Bipolar dysfunction

Applicable remedy for the spectrum of subtypes of bipolar dysfunction throughout being pregnant within the postpartum interval is a frequent matter of debate that colleagues increase. The pandemic has kindled scientific worsening for ladies with temper and nervousness problems presumably pushed by a number of things starting from shifts in treatment adherence to sleep dysregulation to call only a few. Bipolar II dysfunction is underdiagnosed, but there’s a rising appreciation of the morbidity related to this subtype of bipolar dysfunction, which in all probability equals that of different teams on the bipolar spectrum corresponding to these with bipolar I dysfunction.

Sustaining emotional well-being for bipolar girls throughout being pregnant has by no means been extra vital than in the course of the pandemic since psychiatric sickness throughout being pregnant is the strongest predictor of danger for postpartum psychiatric dysfunction and the literature demonstrates that bipolar girls are at explicit danger for postpartum temper dysfunction. Traditionally, remedy of bipolar dysfunction throughout being pregnant was significantly problematic for clinicians and sufferers deciding about potential use of pharmacotherapy as a result of choices had been finite; some remedies had been recognized teratogens (valproate and to a far much less extent lithium) and different newer remedies for bipolar dysfunction had sparse reproductive security knowledge (second-generation antipsychotics).

The message as we speak is we’ve instruments to securely deal with bipolar dysfunction throughout being pregnant and the postpartum interval not accessible 10 years in the past. Lithium is probably going underused and will be safely used throughout being pregnant; we’ve huge knowledge on the effectiveness of lithium in bipolar dysfunction. Clinicians must also know that lamotrigine is secure to make use of for pregnant girls with bipolar dysfunction and the info present no elevated danger for main malformations related to first trimester publicity. Within the case of atypical antipsychotics, which more and more are used within the remedy of bipolar dysfunction, the take-home message is our consolation stage utilizing these medicines throughout being pregnant is rising given extra knowledge supporting that atypical antipsychotics are not main teratogens.

We’ve additionally realized polytherapy is the rule, not the exception. As my colleague Adele Viguera, MD, just lately referenced in Digital Rounds: Polytherapy is a small value to pay when the opposite aspect is sustaining euthymia in bipolar dysfunction.

What we’ve realized about treating perinatal temper dysfunction is it takes a village of clinicians and assets to deal with and mitigate danger for recurrence. Nothing is extra vital than both guaranteeing or recapturing maternal euthymia. The flip aspect is a latest report that maternal self-harm/suicide is the main reason behind dying within the first yr postpartum. It’s a cost to the medical group at giant to display screen for maternal psychiatric sickness and, extra importantly, to refer sufferers and guarantee they obtain enough care in the course of the postpartum interval.


Anxiousness and insomnia have been prevalent in the course of the pandemic. Being pregnant-associated and postpartum nervousness have been underappreciated in lieu of specializing in perinatal melancholy, and we lack consensus relating to essentially the most applicable remedy of perinatal nervousness. Nonpharmacologic interventions have been extraordinarily useful for ladies whose nervousness is delicate to reasonable or as an adjunct to pharmacologic intervention for sufferers with extra extreme nervousness problems.

Sturdy knowledge on untreated nervousness throughout being pregnant counsel it results in opposed outcomes. The reproductive security guidelines above for melancholy additionally apply for nervousness. Right here, we discover a multimodal strategy, each nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic, optimizes remedy for that inhabitants.

Clinicians have requested about different medicines many ladies take to deal with nervousness together with gabapentin, hydroxyzine, and benzodiazepines. Due to issues about dependence and about utilizing benzodiazepines throughout being pregnant, hydroxyzine is continuously used regardless of sparse reproductive security knowledge. Knowledge on the effectiveness of hydroxyzine is even smaller and tends to be incomplete for sufferers with extra reasonable to extreme nervousness.

Our consolation stage in our middle is bigger for utilizing benzodiazepines in sufferers who’re clearly not in danger for substance use dysfunction as a result of significantly when used with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, we discover it optimizes remedy, mitigates signs, and attenuates struggling.


For insomnia, cognitive behavioral remedy for insomnia (CBTI) has essentially the most knowledge for effectiveness. Pharmacologic interventions corresponding to gabapentin and benzodiazepines are additionally continuously used as therapies for insomnia.

Concern about treating insomnia by perinatal psychiatrists comes from the data that insomnia is so usually comorbid with nervousness and melancholy. Psychiatrists should contemplate the chance that complaints of insomnia are a part of an underlying temper or nervousness dysfunction; it might be unlucky to overlook the underlying sickness and solely deal with simply signs of insomnia. That being mentioned, circumscribed insomnia just isn’t unusual throughout being pregnant and must be managed accordingly.

Postpartum psychosis

It’s been noteworthy the extent to which uncommon circumstances of postpartum psychosis have been introduced in our Digital Spherical conferences in the course of the pandemic. As mentioned beforehand, postpartum psychosis is without doubt one of the most severe sicknesses we deal with in reproductive psychiatry.

The controversy as as to whether postpartum psychosis is a discrete circumscribed sickness or an sickness that recurs over time received’t be answered with out higher longitudinal knowledge. What we will say is there isn’t any position, significantly in the course of the pandemic, for outpatient administration of postpartum psychosis. The waxing and waning of psychotic signs, whereas reassuring when sufferers are compensated, are of nice concern when sufferers are psychotic and never in a secure atmosphere.

Whereas there aren’t any consensus pointers for postpartum psychosis remedy, the info assist use of brokers corresponding to lithium. Rising knowledge exist on the usage of atypical antipsychotics to ameliorate psychotic signs and get sufferers functioning as rapidly as attainable. Decision of postpartum psychosis might take a substantial period of time. Throughout the pandemic, it’s vital that applicable assets be managed earlier than sufferers go away the hospital, together with assist by household, open communication with community-based suppliers, and assist teams.

Nineteen months into the pandemic, it appears we’ve realized a lot: how you can leverage expertise like telemedicine, and the upsides of folding in our multidisciplinary colleagues to cut back limitations round collaboration and be taught from each other to supply the perfect take care of our shared sufferers.


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