Healthcare, Latest News

Nurse navigator at Mon Health to help moms during and after pregnancy

MORGANTOWN — One in nine mothers will experience a perinatal mood disorder such as postpartum depression following childbirth.

And Mon Health Medical Center wants to help those moms through that period.

In November 2019, Mon Health Medical Center raised funds for a comprehensive, community-focused perinatal depression program, one of only 13 in the nation, through its annual Ball of the Year.

The hospital recently announced its first perinatal mood and anxiety disorder nurse navigator — Jennifer Bender, who will further support families during pregnancy, at birth and beyond.

Care teams at Mon Health Obstetrics and Gynecology are combating the statistics by offering postpartum and lactation assistance to mothers who deliver at the Mon Health Medical Center Family Birth Center and Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“A strong support system is vital in helping a patient’s mental health during and after pregnancy,” said Dr. Shane Prettyman, OBGYN and co-medical director of Mon Health Medical Center Women’s Health Services. “Extending this program to family members can aid in creating a positive environment for our patients. It is our goal at Mon Health to have a program that provides screening from the beginning of care through all stages of pregnancy and post-pregnancy.”

Bender said expecting mothers are screened for these disorders in pregnancy, while inpatient for delivery and after birth.

“We’ll follow up with all patients even after they’ve gone home, and connect each of them with the resources they need to make their physical and mental well-being a priority,” she said.

Bender, who’s been a labor and delivery nurse for 17 years, said she hopes to play a role in dispelling myths associated with psychiatric disorders as well as closing the gap between delivery and postpartum support for every new parent.

The next phase of the program in initial planning stages at Mon Health Medical Center, is a day treatment program for families hit the hardest by postpartum depression, anxiety and mood disorders.

Additionally, Bender’s new role will expand Mon Health’s pre-existing lactation support for mothers in the postpartum period.

“It’s important for our patients to feel supported in however they choose to feed their baby,” Bender said. “Many mothers report depression and anxiety related to feeding issues, but with regular follow-up we can help relieve some of that fear and anxiety.”

Thanks to ongoing certifications and training for nursing staff and expanded postpartum support, Bender said she’s proud to have belonged to the Mon Health Birth Center family for more than a decade.

“Mon Health has exceptional care for pregnant women welcoming a new baby into their family,” Bender said. “Our nurses are top-notch and truly live out our ‘feel the difference’ motto.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV