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New Scripps Health program to expand mental health services for expecting mothers

Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., 2021.
Scripps Health
Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., 2021.

The Scripps Clinic maternal-fetal medicine program is partnering with the nonprofit Miracle Babies to launch a new program this month called ‘My Brain and My Baby.’ The program will expand access to therapists for mothers experiencing high-risk pregnancies within 72 hours of a mental health diagnosis.

The program will offer individual and group therapy sessions through telemedicine health, and the program will link mothers to long-term care providers.

Dr. Sean Daneshmand, medical director of the Scripps Clinic maternal-fetal medicine program, and Sheila Kubota, clinical director of the Miracle Babies: 'My Brain & My Baby’ program, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday to talk about the new program and mental health diagnoses among expecting mothers.


Dr. Daneshmand said a program like the ‘My Brain & My Baby’ program is needed now because of a rise in complicated pregnancies nationwide.

"Complicated pregnancies are on the rise across the Unites States. They've increased by approximately 16% from 2014 to 2018 according to a national study," Dr. Daneshmand said. "We have approximately about 15-20% of women struggling with postpartum depression, and now on top of it having women going through complicated pregnancies increases the risk for depression and anxiety. So therefore it's imperative for us as health care providers to provide this type of care to our patients who are struggling with this."

Kubota said there has been a shortage in mental health providers for expecting mothers recently, partly due to health care providers feeling burned out during the pandemic.

"There is a lack of mental health professionals, particularly maternal mental health and those who understand the chronic medical illnesses going hand-in-hand with high-risk pregnancies or a NICU admission," Kubota said. "Those that do specialize and are wonderful in our community through Postpartum Health Alliance or Postpartum Support International, people that are connected there, they're so full and it's limited. They don't accept all different types of insurance and particularly there's a real deficit in those who accept Medi-Cal or free services."

Kubota said the program will be launching over the next couple of weeks, and more information can be found on the Miracle Babies: ‘My Brain & My Baby’ website, or on their Instagram page, 'MyBrainMyBaby.'


Dr. Daneshmand published a commentary in the Becker's Hospital Review in April, titled 'We are failing our most vulnerable moms; here's how to fix it.'