Menu

The hormones surging through your body. The milk leaking through your shirt. The sleep deprivation. There are so many physiological factors that make postpartum depression (PPD) different than other types of depression, but the treatments are still the same, and unfortunately, they're slow. Traditional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can take weeks to start working, and for new mothers who are being crushed by PPD, that might as well be a century.

But this week the FDA approved a new treatment for PPD, an intravenous treatment that can have mothers feeling better within just 24 hours.

The good news is this drug can give a mother back all the joy and meaning and hope that PPD can steal within 24 hours.

FEATURED VIDEO

The bad news is it costs $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment and at that price will be out of reach for most mothers who need it.

It's called brexanolone, (although the manufacturer, Sage Therapeutics, plans is marketing the drug under the brand name Zulresso) and it treats PPD by treating hormonal changes, specifically those related to allopregnanolone, a metabolite of progesterone.

Allopregnanolone has been called the “anti-anxiety" hormone, and studies have linked lower levels of allopregnanolone in pregnancy to an increased risk for PPD. Typically, women's allopregnanolone levels are highest in the third trimester, but after you give birth the levels go down quick, and it's believed that crash is what causes some women to sink into depression.

Brexanolone, which is administered intravenously, is a formulation of allopregnanolone, and trials of the drug were extremely promising.

An initial proof-of-concept study led by perinatal psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody saw four women with severe PPD given an infusion of the drug over 60 hours. They all felt better in fewer than 24 hours.

“The first patient we infused was someone who was extremely depressed, had lost 20 pounds in a short period of time postpartum because she wasn't eating at all, was very sad, didn't want to interact with the baby — didn't want to interact with anyone — and the family was extremely concerned," Meltzer-Brody told The Huffington Post. “Twenty four hours after the infusion, she came out of her room, was smiling, ate her whole lunch, was talking to everyone. It was dramatic."

Larger studies followed the first, and on Tuesday Dr. Tiffany Farchione, the acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, announced the FDA approved the drug as the first treatment for postpartum depression.

"Postpartum depression is a serious condition that, when severe, can be life-threatening. Women may experience thoughts about harming themselves or harming their child. Postpartum depression can also interfere with the maternal-infant bond. This approval marks the first time a drug has been specifically approved to treat postpartum depression, providing an important new treatment option," Farchione said in a press release.

As CNN reports, some mothers who have struggled with PPD, like Stephanie Hathaway, found nearly instant relief thanks to brexanolone trials.

"It was a 60-hour infusion and in the first 12 to 18 hours I felt the biggest difference," the mom of two explains. "Those intrusive thoughts that played on repeat in my head, those went away and didn't come back."

It's estimated that 400,000 babies are born to depressed mothers in America every year. This drug could be a game changer for women and their families if the cost is lowered.

Within a few months, the treatment will available through something the FDA calls the Zulresso Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program, which requires the drug be administered by a health care provider in a certified health care facility, but someday we could see wider use and hopefully, insurance coverage.

[Correction, March 20: An earlier version of this post stated this treatment is currently available through the Zulresso Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program. The treatment will not be available through that program until June 2019 at the earliest.]

You might also like:

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

FEATURED VIDEO

Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

Shop

Ask any mama where she has tension in her back and chances are she’ll say on the left side. That’s because research shows some 70 to 85% of women typically carry their babies on the left side of their bodies.

Keep reading Show less
News