First of Its Kind Mother-Baby Program Opens to Fill Critical Gap for Mothers and Pregnant Women Suffering with Mental Health Issues

First of Its Kind Mother-Baby Program Opens to Fill Critical Gap for Mothers and Pregnant Women Suffering with Mental Health Issues

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Team members from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Women's Mental Health department sit together for a group photo.

The program supports mothers and pregnant people in crisis by providing holistic and personalized treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders while centering the mother-baby relationship.

WASHINGTON - MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is proud to announce the opening of the Mother-Baby Intensive Outpatient Program — a first of its kind program in the Washington region. The Mother-Baby Program is an intensive outpatient program for pregnant and postpartum individuals with mood and anxiety disorders. It is designed to help support mothers and pregnant people in crisis and guide them as they build the skills needed to feel better, and to develop competence, confidence, and independence as caregivers. According to the World Health Organization, nearly one in five women develops a psychiatric disorder before or after birth. Among women of color, more than one in three suffer from postpartum depression. Tragically, postpartum suicide and overdose are the leading cause of maternal mortality in the first year after childbirth. 

This program will help mothers and birthing people avoid tragic consequences and provide more stability for the entire family. The program allows perinatal individuals — people who are pregnant or within one year of giving birth — to receive treatment while accompanied by their babies, allowing for strongly supportive care without disrupting mother and baby bonding. Program patients have access to a diagnostic assessment, treatment with individual and group therapies, psychiatry services, perinatal health and wellness services, mother-baby relationship and parenting skills support, and care coordination to help with accessing health care and community resources. Volunteers are also on hand to help patients care for their baby while they get the care and support they need.

Dr. Aimee Danielson, founder and director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, explains why this is so important, “This program fills a critical gap in the continuum of care in Washington, D.C. for pregnant or postpartum individuals requiring more intensive mental health care who do not need inpatient psychiatric care or wish to avoid the disruption, trauma, and separation from their newborn necessitated by a hospital stay. Mothers and babies are in treatment together, continuing the special bonding process that is critical to healthy attachment and child development. The family, including partners and support people, are integrated into the holistic care provided by experts in perinatal and family mental health. Mothers continue to live at home with their families, learning and applying their new skills while recovering in their home environment.”

Group therapy sessions are held three days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and additional therapies are available based on a personalized treatment plan that is developed for each patient. Adults ages 18 and up, who are pregnant or within one year of giving birth, and are experiencing new and severe symptoms of depression, anxiety or trauma or a worsening of a previous mental health condition are eligible for the program.

For more information or to schedule an intake appointment, please call the Department of Psychiatry at 202-944-5400.