Having a baby is a significant life event.
Lots of parents find that they experience a whole range of emotions during pregnancy and after having a baby. You may be feeling happy, sad, tired or tearful, or sometimes just can’t describe how you are feeling. You may be worried about becoming a parent and wonder how relationships in the family might change.
This could be linked to thoughts of your own childhood or your family situation. Many of these feelings are mild and will resolve with time, but sometimes these can be difficult and start to have an effect on day-to-day life. It may be that you are experiencing a ‘perinatal’ mental health problem which just means that it is happening ‘around’ the time of birth. It may be a new mental health problem, or something that you’ve experienced in the past that is happening again. It’s important that you speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor to let them know how you are feeling so that they can find the right support for you.
You might find it helpful to connect with other expectant or new parents to share your experiences. There are lots of voluntary organisations and charities such as MIND that offer support.
Your local Children’s Centre or Children and Family Hub also provides family health and support services and can help to signpost you to groups and activities that are happening in your area. Each local area may have different resources. You can find out more by contacting your local council.
Your GP may prescribe medication to help with your mood or suggest that you try a talking therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). You can also refer yourself. Your midwife or health visitor may offer additional appointments to help you talk about anything you are worried about.
If you’ve had serious mental health problems in the past, or you find that things are getting worse, your health professional may make a referral to a specialist perinatal mental health team. The team includes specialist mental health professionals working in various disciplines including nurses and doctors who will offer you regular assessments, medication advice and support to plan your birth.
Your midwife, health visitor and GP will work closely with the specialist team so you are supported and informed throughout your pregnancy and after birth. Specialist hospital wards called Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) may also be available if you need to have more intensive treatment and care or support with bonding with your baby.
If you are an expectant or new parent, then please consider taking part in our research which aims to understand the impact of the campaign on people’s attitudes, experiences and understanding of perinatal mental illness.
You can access the survey here…
It’s ok to ask for help
Mental health symptoms can change a lot from day to day so it may be hard for your doctor or health visitor to understand exactly what you are feeling. This means you may need to ask a few times to get the right support. Often parents find this really hard -but please do keep talking to your healthcare professional so you get the help you need.
Sometimes parents worry that their baby will be taken from them if they admit that they are having mental health problems. It is very rare for parents to be separated from their children for this reason and there is lots of support available to help you ensuring this doesn’t need to happen.
It’s always okay to ask for help even if you’re not sure what you are experiencing. Talking to someone will help you take the steps needed to keep you and your family well.