Women’s Specialty Unit
A Specialty Inpatient Unit with a Focus on Perinatal Mental Health Conditions
Women have unique risk factors for developing certain mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety and postpartum psychosis, and challenges to accessing care when needed. Specialized, expert care should reflect and support these unique needs. The women’s specialty unit within El Camino Health’s Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services offers a safe place designed just for women.
The unit offers general acute care mental health services, with a focus on perinatal mental health conditions. The specialty unit provides compassionate care from a highly trained team committed to helping women and new moms who are experiencing symptoms of these conditions.
About Perinatal Mental Health Conditions
Perinatal mental health disorders can occur during pregnancy or after giving birth, and can include mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.
Baby Blues: Many women experience what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” These are symptoms that occur in the first days after having a child and last several days to no more than two weeks. These symptoms include feelings of sadness or weepiness, fatigue, worry, mood swings and feeling unattached to your baby.
Depression: Perinatal depression is more than just the “baby blues.” You may have heard of “postpartum depression,” but symptoms can also begin during pregnancy and can include feelings of hopelessness, sadness, a lack of interest in the baby and intrusive thoughts. These symptoms can occur during pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of a baby. The symptoms are persistent and require additional support.
Anxiety disorders: Being pregnant, giving birth and caring for a new baby are physically and mentally stressful even under ideal circumstances. For some women, anxiety and even panic can interfere with the ability to function and take care of their babies. Symptoms of these conditions include changes in sleep, racing thoughts, constant worry and changes in appetite.
Postpartum psychosis: This rare and serious illness commonly occurs during the weeks following giving birth. Women who have had a previous psychotic episode or bipolar disorder are at an increased risk. Postpartum psychosis can cause:
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating
Help Is Here
The birth of a child is a life changing event. The emotional and physical changes that occur with this life transition can be a challenging adjustment. In fact, the most common complication of childbirth is postpartum depression. You’ll find a safe, nurturing, healing environment in our women’s specialty unit. The care team on this unit has received specialized training focused on the unique physical and mental health needs of perinatal women. Upon inpatient admission, you, your support persons and your care team will discuss your goals for hospitalization and together, will develop a plan to achieve those goals. This is an opportunity for you, your care team, and anyone who might be in your support network to carefully and thoughtfully address the needs you consider most important.
You’ll work one-on-one with a psychiatrist specializing in women’s mental health disorders, and each day that you’re in our care you’ll be offered the opportunity to participate in psycho-educational groups and focused activities that will help you develop skills to manage your acute symptoms and begin the healing process. In addition, our team will work with you on topics of mother-baby attachment and partner communication.
Partners will be offered the opportunity to attend a partner support group while the mother is admitted in our care. This optional group provides an additional resource to ensure the entire family unit can participate in the healing process.
Bonding with Your Baby
Having the opportunity to continue to bond with your child after you have given birth is critically important to both the mother and baby. Although visitation is restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, staff will ensure that bonding with your child continues. Once it is safe to have visitors, we will welcome visitors along with your child.
While in our care, you and your doctor will develop a feeding plan that best meets your baby’s needs. Access to a lactation specialist and a lactation pump will be available.
After You Go Home
In addition to the inpatient specialty unit, Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services offers a continuum of mental health care for women, including partial hospitalization (up to six hours a day) and intensive outpatient treatment MOMS (Maternal Outreach Mood Services) Program (up to three hours a day). These resources are available to ensure that when you are discharged from our unit, you have a specialized plan in place for your next steps in care.
If you or the person you’re concerned about is having suicidal thoughts, or if someone poses an immediate physical threat, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
The women's specialty unit is supported by donations to El Camino Health Foundation.