Oklahoma woman working to get state to respond to postpartum depression faster

TULSA, Okla. — A bill passed in 2019 is the first of many steps an Oklahoma woman is taking to get the state to work quicker for mothers suffering from postpartum depression.

Senate Bill 419, co-sponsored by State Rep. Nicole Miller, requires Oklahoma doctors to ask questions and screen women for postpartum anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy.

Postpartum depression affects as many as one in eight women nationwide, and one in seven women in Oklahoma.

Emily Clark is a constituent who inspired the legislation in the Senate, and she says it’s a good start but the state should do more.

Clark carried a high-risk pregnancy and delivered twin daughters seven years ago.

Eleven days after delivery, she says she started having suicidal thoughts and ended up checking herself into an inpatient facility.

Miller and Clark both say screenings during the third trimester are a good step, but it would be even better to have conversations within the medical community about what resources are available to treat postpartum depression and anxiety.

>> See resources from the Oklahoma State Department of Health

>> See resources from the Oklahoma state chapter of Postpartum Support International (PSI)

Clark says her inpatient experience wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t a place designed for a new mother who was pumping.

Postpartum Support International lists only three inpatient perinatal psychiatry programs; one at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one in New York and one in California.

Clark says she’d like to see different health care providers work together to bring one to Oklahoma.

She’s leading the “Climb Out of the Darkness Walk” to raise awareness about perinatal mental health issues on June 26′s Summer Solstice, the day of the year with the most sunlight.

Anyone looking to participate can do so here.