182: Pediatricians' Important Role in Perinatal Mental Health


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By Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D. and Katayune Kaeni. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

We are constantly learning more about the importance of mental health and its impact on the overall health of parents, children, and the entire family. More and more clinicians are getting trained in perinatal mental health, which is exactly what is needed. In today’s show, we get a pediatrician’s perspective of stepping in to help new moms, even though their primary role is to support and care for the child.

Dr. Natasha Sriraman is a pediatrician and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School. She’s an attending physician, researcher, wife, and mother. Her main areas of research include breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and health disparities. Natasha is a strong advocate who lobbies for breastfeeding support in the workplace and postpartum depression screening within the pediatric setting. She researches, publishes, and speaks around the country about postpartum depression and anxiety, breastfeeding, and the importance of the mother in the fourth trimester. When not working, Natasha enjoys running, boxing, yoga, traveling, reading, and going to the beach with her family. In this episode, Natasha shares her perspective, experience, and knowledge of being a pediatrician who incorporates perinatal mental health awareness and screening into her practice as well as how her own experience prompted her to become a lactation consultant. We’ll touch on how the added stress of COVID-19 is impacting families in receiving necessary care and how pediatricians can play an important role in perinatal mental health.

Show Highlights:

  • Natasha’s practice and focus on perinatal mental health and the “fourth” trimester, based on her experience and difficulties as a mom
  • The unique opportunities that pediatricians have to engage with babies and mothers during the first year of a baby’s life and “bridge the gap” for families
  • Why Natasha is screening moms even before the first six-week checkup for the baby
  • The delicate balance for a pediatrician of navigating the issue of a mom’s mental health when the baby is your patient
  • How to differentiate between normal “new mom nervousness” and postpartum depression and anxiety that requires help
  • New worries from pregnant women and new moms in the time of COVID-19
  • Extra precautions in the doctor’s office during COVID-19: taking temperatures and wearing masks
  • How Natasha navigates her work as a lactation consultant
  • Why patients should never feel like they have to choose between breastfeeding and getting treatment for anxiety/depression
  • The need for widespread education in perinatal mental health
  • Natasha’s hopeful message: “It’s been wonderful to see moms achieve a level of comfort in talking to their physicians and pediatricians in the fourth trimester. One positive aspect of COVID-19 is increased access to virtual support groups.”


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208 episodes