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  1. Moyer, Sara Wagner BS, RN
  2. Kinser, Patricia A. PhD, WHNP-BC, RN, FAAN


Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) affect up to 20% of pregnant and postpartum women and can have negative sequelae for maternal-child health. Nurses with clinical and research roles are on the front line of efforts to assess for and assist with prevention and intervention with PMAD symptoms. Thus, they can play an essential role in enhancing the mental well-being of women in the perinatal period and maternal-child health outcomes. The aim of this article is to assist nurses in this work by outlining the Comprehensive Model of Mental Health during the Perinatal Period, a conceptual framework for considering clinical and research opportunities to enhance perinatal mental health. The framework uses key principles that recognize biopsychoneuroimmunologic mechanisms involved in mental health; the key role that the experience of matrescence ("becoming a mother") plays in mental health and maternal-child health; and the mother-infant dyad as the functional unit during the perinatal period. Examples are provided of how the key principles of this framework might be used to enhance research and clinical practice about PMADs and, ultimately, enhance maternal-child health outcomes.