1. Section Editor(s): Alhusen, Jeanne PhD, CRNP, RN, FAAN
  2. Perinatal Guest Editors
  3. Kinser, Patricia PhD, WHNP-BC, RN, FAAN
  4. Perinatal Guest Editors
  5. Gregory, Katherine PhD, RN
  6. Neonatal Editor

Article Content

Welcome to the 35:1 issue of The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing focusing on behavioral health and its influence on maternal and neonatal care. Within the Perinatal section, authors are focusing articles on the following broad areas: the genetic and environmental influences on mental health in the perinatal period and a framework to guide clinicians and researchers in addressing maternal mental health, biobehavioral correlates of emotions, interventions to mitigate depressive symptoms, and integrating behavioral health into clinical care. Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common complication of pregnancy and are associated with long-term implications for mothers, children, and families. We encourage you to review the articles within this issue that have implications for both clinicians and researchers.


In the commentary by Lapato and colleagues, the reader is provided with a perspective about the contribution of the environment and genetics toward pregnancy-related depression. The authors elucidate the fascinating world of how biology and the environment interact, providing the example of DNA methylation as a biomarker that could one day be used by clinicians and researchers for targeted prevention of and intervention in perinatal depression.


Continuing the focus on integrating biology and behavior, the article by Moyer and Kinser provides a comprehensive framework for considering maternal mental health through a biobehavioral lens. Specifically, the authors propose that clinicians and researchers use the Comprehensive Model of Mental Health during the Perinatal Period when considering practice and research regarding perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Clinical and research examples are provided to explain how the framework can be applied.


Rounding out perspectives on biobehavioral research, Jallo and colleagues present research findings regarding the relationship between emotions and inflammatory cytokines in pregnant women. The authors acknowledge that minimal research about the impact of positive emotions on stress processes and outcomes has been conducted in minority populations. As such, this study focuses on a population of pregnant African American women to provide a more thorough picture of stress processes in this underserved and understudied population. The study concludes that happiness may be an important buffer to the physiological effects of stress and requires additional research focus. Continuing education credit is offered for this article.


The article "'I'm Not the Only One With Depression': Women's Perceptions of In-Person Group Formats of Depressive Symptom Interventions" by Aubry and colleagues shifts the conversation to specific experiences of women with depression interventions. The authors remind us that there is increasing attention on individual online formats for interventions; however, the results of this qualitative study suggest that pregnant women with depressive symptoms benefit from group settings and appreciate opportunities to interact with other women experiencing similar symptoms. Findings from this study suggest that clinicians and researchers should remember these women's perspectives that the feeling of a safe space and shared experiences can be highly therapeutic.


The final article in this series brings attention to the importance of integrating behavioral health into obstetric care settings. In this program evaluation study, Niemczyk and colleagues report that having a therapist on-site at a freestanding birth center was associated with increased depression screening and intervention and enhanced patient and providers satisfaction. In addition, there is an online manuscripts "Risk and Resilience Factors of Postpartum Depression in Arab Women Living in the Palestinian Occupied Territories," by Emad Gith.


In this issue of The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing (JPNN), we have focused on several important topics related to behavioral health. On the neonatal side of the journal, we feature articles that cover topics ranging from neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)-specific stress following traumatic childbirth, infant-family mental health in the NICU, and addressing a father's needs during the NICU hospitalization. We also learn about the effect of a parent empowerment program on parental stress, satisfaction, and length of stay in the NICU. We know that issues related to behavioral health are complex. Meeting the needs of our perinatal and neonatal patients most often requires a multidisciplinary team that can develop an evidence-based plan of care that is dynamic, changing with the evolving nature of behavioral health needs. The articles featured in this issue of the journal will help readers further develop their practice and more effectively meet their patients' behavioral health needs.


As always, we are grateful to our columnists. Leslie Parker provides a brief evidence-based review on the need for more tailored nutritional approaches for meeting our preterm infants' growth and nutrition needs. Terese Verklan provides our Parting Thoughts column on prevention of newborn falls during hospitalization. Both provide excellent perspective on important areas of our newborn nursing practice.


Please consider submitting a manuscript to one of our upcoming issues. And please let us know whether you or a colleague would be interested in contributing to the journal as one of our peer reviewers. Peer review is an essential component of the publication process, and we are always looking to grow our community of reviewers for JPNN. Contributing as a peer reviewer not only helps our authors by strengthening the manuscripts that are submitted but also helps the reviewers hone their writing and review skills. A win-win for everyone involved! Please contact us if you are interested.


-Jeanne Alhusen, PhD, CRNP, RN, FAAN


-Patricia Kinser, PhD, WHNP-BC, RN, FAAN


Perinatal Guest Editors


-Katherine Gregory, PhD, RN


Neonatal Editor