Perinatal mental health
Having a baby is a big life event.
You may have mixed emotions and it’s common for people to experience mental health problems during pregnancy and/or after the birth of a baby.
It’s important to talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor about how you feel early so you can get help sooner.
What is perinatal mental health
Perinatal includes your pregnancy, labour, birth and the postnatal period up until your baby reaches 1 year.
Mental illness can affect anyone. You may experience mental illness for the first time in pregnancy or after the birth, or you may have had mental health problems in the past.
The physical and emotional changes of pregnancy and childbirth may result in you or your partner experiencing:
- low mood, sadness and tearfulness
- anxiety, OCD, worry and tension
- irritability and anger
- difficult or unexpected feelings towards your pregnancy or baby
- poor sleep even when your baby sleeps well
- feeling unable to cope or enjoy anything
- thoughts that you’re not a good enough parent
- worrying thoughts about your baby
- relationship and social stress, such as housing, financial or relationship issues
- anxiety about labour or struggling to come to terms with a difficult birth.
Where to find support
Asking for help is the start of getting the right help and support to ensure you can be the parent you want to be.
Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) Maternity service
Tell your midwife or obstetrician if you have current or previous mental health issues, or you feel your mental health declining.
They’ll refer you to our specialist mental health midwives for enhanced support during your pregnancy, and up to 28 days after your baby is born.
Our specialist midwives will help you to take control in a non-judgemental way. We can signpost and refer you for therapeutic support or a medication review if needed.
Self-refer to the team’s specialist midwives by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You must attend your antenatal appointments during pregnancy for access to the care and support you need.
BHT health visitors
Our health visitors see you up to 21 days after the birth of your baby. They give advice about your baby’s health up to 5 years including feeding, sleeping, and development of child/infancy.
Our health visitors may also see you from 28 weeks in the antenatal period if they think you need more support. They’re good talk to about your mental health after your baby’s born.
Perinatal mental health specialist team
If you experience severe mental health dificiculties, such as post traumatic stress disorder you may be referred to this service by a healthcare professional.
Improved Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)
A free local service offering short-term therapy. This may include guided self-help sessions with a therapist, cognitive behaviour therapy, couples therapy and counselling.
Your partner can refer themself to these services too. Remember to mention on your self-referral about your baby as this will prioritise your referral.
Choose the IAPT service in the same area as your registered GP.
Buckinghamshire IAPT – Healthy Minds
Self-refer on 01865 901600 or online.
Healthy Minds also work with the health visiting team to offer a Postnatal Wellbeing Support Group. A 10-week course based on CBT strategies can help manage postnatal anxiety and depression.
You can also talk to your GP or call 111 and aks for the mental health team.
Other sources of help
Self referral on 0300 555 4152 or online
Berkshire Talking Therapies
Self-refer on 0300 365 2000 or online
Hertfordshire Wellbeing Service
Call 0800 6444 101 or refer online
Oxfordshire Talking Space Plus
Self-refer on 01865 901222 or online
A rapid response service providing immediate support alongside the Perinatal Mental Health specialist team. They’ll accept calls from you, your partner or someone concerned for your immediate mental health.
24 hours a day, every day on 116 123
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