Postpartum depression (also called PPD) is one of the most common conditions to impact new mothers, affecting about 1 in 7 women, or just about 15% (1). A drop in estrogen and progesterone immediately after birth causes this condition that is characterized by extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion. It most frequently occurs about 1 to 3 weeks after a mother has given birth.
Signs of PPD can include changes in feelings, everyday life, or the thoughts a mother has about themselves or their baby. Postpartum depression is a mental disorder that needs to be treated with either medication or therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy), and is a dangerous condition to both the mother and the baby. If PPD goes untreated, mothers may miss postpartum checkups, find it hard to bond with their baby, and may not be able to breastfeed their baby for extended periods of time. In some cases, babies to mothers who experience PPD may not receive the medical attention they need, or face development, learning, or mental health challenges later in life. Postpartum depression can lead a mother to be neglectful in the care of her infant. Mothers experience extreme sleep deprivation and cognitive deficits such as having trouble concentrating, remembering details and making decisions.
While it is important for a mother to ask for and accept help, seek support, remain healthy and active, and reduce stress if they have PPD, medical treatment is also crucial. In the past, common medications have included antidepressants or estrogen. Back in 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zulresso, the first postpartum depression specific treatment (2). Despite this breakthrough, the drug was only administered via a continuous IV infusion over 60 hours in a hospital. In addition, the drug was very expensive with a price tag of $34,000, meaning it would be out of financial reach for many (3).
For some time, Zulresso was the only specific PPD drug on the market. However, earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved Zurzuvae, the first oral treatment for PPD (4). The pill can be taken at home once daily for 14 days, and two trials have demonstrated its efficacy in improving depressive symptoms after the 14 day treatment period. It is not yet known how access and pricing of the new drug will affect access internationally.
This new treatment option is a monumental step forward in treating PPD and one that will hopefully benefit countless new mothers, allowing them to enjoy motherhood and safely care for their newborn.
Now as a next step, we ask what could be done to lower the costs of the implementation of the E-MOTIVE bundle? The most obvious answer is to consider displacing the tens of thousands of disposable plastic drapes with a purpose-built reusable device.
Fortunately one of the obstetricians involved in the E-MOTIVE study, Dr. Justus Hofmeyr, had been innovating around this very issue, designing a tray with wells that could fit under a woman’s buttocks, collect and accurately measure the. blood. This tray, theMaternaWellTraywas conceived as a device that could be sterilized and reused, and is manufactured in South Africa by Umoya.
The Pumani bubbleCPAP was designed to meet this need for Malawi and is now widely available through Maternova. We had a few questions about post-research phases of the Pumani bubbleCPAP which we posed to Jocelyn Brown, inventor of the Pumani bubbleCPAP, and Molly McCabe, Director of Product Management.