West Penn Facility Lets Moms Stay With Their Babies While Seeking Postpartum Mental Health Care

Dec 19, 2018

New mothers dealing with pregnancy-related mental health disorders can keep their babies with them as they seek treatment at West Penn Hospital's new Alexis Joy D'Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health. 

The facility has different levels of treatment for women dealing with pre-or-postpartum depression or anxiety.

Steven D'Achille (fourth from left) and his 5-year-old daughter Adriana attended Tuesday's ribbon cutting.
Credit Kathleen Davis / 90.5 WESA

Women can meet one-on-one with a clinician once a week or take part in an intensive outpatient program, attending multiple three-hour group therapy sessions a week. Partial hospitalization is also available.

Sarah Homitsky, medical director of women's behavioral health at the facility, said women who contact the office are connected with a clinician who performs a needs assessment within 48 hours. She said keeping new mothers close to their babies is important for bonding.

"We do a lot of specific mother-baby activities, so you're looking at infant massage, baby wearing yoga, in addition to also doing therapy one-on-one with a clinician," Homitsky said.

One of the spaces in which women can bond with their new babies at West Penn's new facility for women suffering from postpartum mental health disorders.
Credit Kathleen Davis / 90.5 WESA

The facility is named for Alexis Joy D'Achille, who died by suicide in 2013 after suffering from postpartum depression. Her husband, Steven D'Achille, said the facility will fill a much needed hole in postpartum care his wife could have benefitted from. 

"The core of this program is keeping mom and baby together," D'Achille said. "Making sure that they're bonding."

Free childcare is available onsite for the older children of patients. Allegheny Health Network estimates 2,000 women will seek treatment at the Center next year.

Postpartum depression impacts one in 10 women after giving birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

90.5 WESA receives funding from Allegheny Health Network.