Maternal Mental Health and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Discharge Readiness in Mothers of Preterm Infants
To evaluate associations between maternal mental health disorders (MHDs) and discharge readiness for mothers of infants born preterm (<37 weeks). We hypothesized that mothers with a history of MHDs would report decreased perceptions of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharge readiness compared with mothers without a history.Study design
Mothers of infants born preterm in the NICU >5 days between 2012 and 2015 and participating in a transition home program completed a discharge readiness questionnaire measuring perceptions of staff support, infant well-being (medical stability), maternal well-being (emotional readiness/competency), and maternal comfort (worry about infant). Greater scores are more optimal (range 0-100). Social workers obtained a history of MHDs. Group comparisons and regression analyses were run to predict decreased scores and maternal discharge readiness.Results
A total of 37% (315/850) of mothers reported a MHD. They were more likely to be white (64% vs 55% P = .05), single (64% vs 45% P ≤ .001), on Medicaid (61% vs 50% P = .002), and less likely to be non-English speaking (10% vs 22%, P ≤ .001). Mothers with MHD perceived less NICU support (92 ± 13 vs 94 ± 12, P = .005), less emotional readiness for discharge (78 ± 17 vs 81 ± 14, P = .04), and lower family cohesion (81 ± 24 vs 86 ± 19, P = .02) compared with mothers without MHD. Regression modeling (OR; CI) indicated that maternal history of MHDs predicted mother's decreased perception of infant well-being (1.56; 1.05-2.33) and her own well-being (1.99; 1.45-2.8) at discharge.Conclusion
One-third of mothers reported a history of MHDs. This vulnerable group perceive themselves as less ready for discharge home with their infant, indicating an unmet need for provision of enhanced transition services.