Emotional and mental health support
‘Perinatal’ is the term to describe the antenatal period up until your child is two. Over the last year there have been lots of new services for mothers and families needing additional mental and emotional support during this time.
Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is often called the “baby blues” and nearly 80% of new mothers experience this. However the ‘baby blues’ should not last more than two weeks after having your baby, if you don’t feel that the ‘blues’ is not improving or is starting after a few weeks you may be developing postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression can be easily missed as many women are worried about how they will be viewed as a mother or that someone will take their baby away. This couldn’t be further from the truth and your health visitor is available to help you find the right treatment and support so you can enjoy your new baby.
Your health visitor will ask you two questions when he or she visits you at your new birth contact and each time they see you so we can help identify how you are feeling.
- During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
- During the last month, have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing thing?
If you answer ‘Yes’ to either of these questions then your health visitor is able to listen to how you are feeling and help you think about getting further support. They may ask you more questions about how these feelings are impacting other parts of your life.
Other symptoms may include:
- crying nearly every day
- trouble going back to sleep at night, lying awake worrying
- difficulty bonding with your baby
- not wanting to be with people or being too anxious to go out with your baby
- frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
Compliment from a parent
Health visitor K has supported me for a number of months post pregnancy and I can honestly say her support has been incredible.
Some mothers also become very anxious or can begin with obsessive behaviour. This often includes beliefs and rituals in relation to caring for the baby. This is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Some Mothers can become very unwell. They experience rapid mood changes, an inability to eat or sleep and paranoid thoughts. Sometimes these involve thoughts about the baby and may believe others feel their partner or parents want to harm them.
This is an emergency situation and the mother’s mental health can deteriorate very quickly with severe consequences.
This is called Puerperal Psychosis and the mother and baby will need to go to hospital to be treated as soon as possible. For more information you can contact Action on Postpartum Psychosis.
Support may look like attending a group with other mums who feel the same or maybe going to counselling. You may also feel that it would be good to see your GP to think about some antidepressants. There are lots of options, but not receiving any treatment or support may mean that it lasts for a long time.
MIND is a mental health organisation that can also offer information and support.
Counselling is available from Talk Changes you can refer yourself or ask your health visitor to help you.
You can also contact IAPT, the NHS counselling service, for help and emotional support during pregnancy
If you think a group may be helpful ‘The First Year and You Group’ is ran by First Steps Psychology Service. If you would like to attend you can speak to your health visitor or call them on 0207 0147135.
Mental health support in pregnancy
If you are pregnant and have a mental health diagnosis or are a mother and have previously been treated by mental health services the Perinatal Mental Health Services can offer you additional treatment and support throughout your pregnancy and up to two years after your baby is born.
This is very important as the challenges of pregnancy, delivery of a baby and caring for a young infant can have a significant impact on your mental health.
For women who suffer birth trauma, the Birth Trauma Association can be of great help.