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Perinatal Mental Health

Healthy mind, body and baby

Pregnancy and the period after your baby is born (known as the perinatal period) are often talked about as the happiest time in a parent’s life. `  This can cause pressure, leading to feeling that you should or ought to be ‘happy’. But sometimes it doesn’t always feel that way.

In the perinatal period you are more likely to need support for your mental health. There are lots of changes that come with pregnancy and parenthood – physical, hormonal along with alteration to relationships and social groups – all of which can affect you at different times.

Emotional wellbeing, or mental health, is just as important as physical health. Up to one in five women and one in ten men are affected by mental health problems during the perinatal period, and recent research shows this number might in fact be even higher.

Pregnancy and the period after your baby is born (known as the perinatal period) are often talked about as the happiest time in a parent’s life. `  This can cause pressure, leading to feeling that you should or ought to be ‘happy’. But sometimes it doesn’t always feel that way.

In the perinatal period you are more likely to need support for your mental health. There are lots of changes that come with pregnancy and parenthood – physical, hormonal along with alteration to relationships and social groups – all of which can affect you at different times.

Emotional wellbeing, or mental health, is just as important as physical health. Up to one in five women and one in ten men are affected by mental health problems during the perinatal period, and recent research shows this number might in fact be even higher.

At your first appointment with your midwife, you will be asked about your physical and mental health history including family history. You will also be asked how you are feeling about your pregnancy, childbirth and your baby to help plan your care.

During your pregnancy and after you have had your baby, your midwife will continue to ask you about your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Through discussion with you, your midwife will offer options for support to meet your needs.

Pregnancy and parenthood can be a challenging time, and it’s important to stay well.  The first step is to speak to someone about how you’re feeling. 

Seeking help is not always easy, especially when you are not feeling well. However, taking that first step of asking for support shows strength, courage and will always be viewed as a positive step. There are support and treatment options available that might be able to help you to cope with your difficulties. This could be talking therapies, a specialist midwife, specialist perinatal mental health services, GP.

During the last three months of pregnancy and the first two years of life your baby’s brain is developing at a rapid rate. Responding to your baby’s needs can support emotional and mental development. Developing a close and loving relationship with your baby will lay the building blocks for them growing into a secure and confident child and adult.

Pregnancy is a special time and you may already be starting to connect with your baby. This will help you form a strong and loving bond with your baby after birth.

You can help to build your relationship by taking time out every day to relax, stroke your bump, talk or sing to your growing baby and respond to your baby’s movements.

Scans and research show that even in the womb, babies yawn, suck their thumbs and respond to familiar voices and music.

Bonding with your baby and becoming a parent resources

Balancing choices in pregnancy.png

If you are currently taking medication for your mental health DO NOT STOP without seeking medical advice.

Stopping your medication can make your illness return or become worse

Further information on medication during pregnancy is available on the BUMPS website.

You can still breastfeed whilst taking most medications for your mental health. Further information is available on the Lactmed website.

Hello my name is Julie Fallows

I am the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwife at UHMBT, along with my colleagues Sarah Graham and Cathy Wright.

We will be part of your care during your journey through pregnancy and into parenthood if your current or previous mental health difficulties are identified as severe or complex by your midwife / health care team.

We work closely with the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health service and other mental health teams, along with your maternity team, health visitor and GP.

It is our role to ensure that you are provided with compassionate, non-judgemental supportive care, to empower you to make your own decisions.

Together, we can discuss your preferences for care around pregnancy and birth. We will  promote your relationship with your baby and provide you with additional information about how your mental health and medication can impact on your pregnancy and breastfeeding.

We are available as a resource for other professionals with regards to perinatal mental health to support women to access the most appropriate care / service to meet their needs.

Contact

Julie Fallows (Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwife) mobile 07771562868

Sarah Graham (Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwife) mobile  07976 372694

Cathy Wright (Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Midwife) mobile 07970 610015

Preconception referrals - Your GP or mental health worker can refer to the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health team for pre-conception advice.

Psychological therapy - Trained therapists and counsellors provide a range of different therapies through the NHS, known as IAPT services (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

provides talking therapy for people experiencing mild to moderate depression, general anxiety and worry, panic attacks, social anxiety, traumatic memories and obsessive compulsive disorder.   

Parents can self-refer to all IAPT services and will be prioritised.

Mindsmatter are a wellbeing service offering a range of free psychological therapies to people aged 16 and over in Lancashire.

First Step can help with a range of common mental health problems including mild to moderate depression, anxiety disorders, anger or sleep problems for people aged 18 and over in south Cumbria.

How an IAPT service can help you

If your mental health problems are moderate/severe or longer lasting, the maternity team can put you in touch with specialist mental health services.

Women in need of inpatient care for severe mental illness may be referred to a mother and baby unit (MBU). These units enable women to stay with their babies while receiving specialist care.

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust | Perinatal Mental Health Service (lscft.nhs.uk)

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust | Ribblemere Mother and Baby unit (MBU) (lscft.nhs.uk)

If you know, or are looking after, a parent who you believe is in crisis or there is an immediate risk to a mother, baby or others, please ring your local Home Treatment (Crisis) Team.

Please note, you may be asked to attend the Emergency Department at Royal Lancaster Infirmary or Furness General Hospital, Barrow for urgent assessment.

Peer support

Peer support brings together people with similar experiences. Your peers can:

  • support you and listen to how you’re feeling
  • offer empathy and understanding
  • share experiences, information, suggestions for self-care and support options

Useful information about preparing for birth, becoming a mum or becoming a parent

Mental Health problems and pregnancy

Information leaflets on perinatal mental health

Further sources of help and information

Resources for self-help

Many women have experienced birth trauma, loss or have a fear of childbirth. Early detection, referral and support can have lasting, positive outcomes and improved wellbeing.

The Lancashire and South Cumbria Reproductive Trauma Service has been set up to offer a variety  of support and therapies to those who have experienced:

  • Birth trauma
  • A fear of childbirth (tokophobia)
  • Perinatal loss – including:
    • early miscarriage,
    • recurrent miscarriage,
    • stillbirth,
    • neonatal death,
    • termination of pregnancy for any reason,
    • parent infant separation at birth.

The trained therapists can provide a range of psychological interventions and support which will be discussed with you to meet your personal needs. These may include psychological therapies, relaxation techniques, anxiety management or information to help you with your difficulties. They may be within a group or in a one-to-one setting.

To be referred into the service or if you feel you need some support, please contact your health care professional such as GP, health visitor or midwife.