A Pediatric-Child Psychiatry Liaison Program on the Postpartum Unit of a Community Hospital

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Pregnancy and parturition represent stressful situations in the human life cycle, affecting both parents and family members. Psychological, physiological, social, and cultural changes during these periods demand new adjustments and adaptations by the family. Health care professionals can help parents cope effectively with these normal developmental crises by providing support, reassurance, and guidance. Unfortunately, during these periods many physicians feel incompetent in relating to their patients. Medical school and residency training programs have not provided adequate supports for the emotional and cognitive development of the student. The student of medicine often leaves training feeling insecure in this area and is reluctant to initiate and perpetuate collaborative liaison programs with psychiatric colleagues. The authors developed a pediatric-child psychiatry liaison program on the postpartum division of a community hospital, realizing the need for medical students and pediatric residents to appreciate and understand the normal developmental crises inherent in parturition and pregnancy. The program was created within the context of a developmental framework which emphasizes the normal psychophysiological experiences occurring during these periods. Issues concerning the emotional well-being of patients and the responsibility of training programs in promoting emotional and intellectual growth of trainees are discussed.

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