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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,Ā labour,Ā birthĀ and theĀ 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 teamā€™s specialist midwives by emailing

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 babyā€™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 periodĀ  if they think you need more support. They’re good talk to about your mental health after your baby’s born.

Specialist mental health teams

Perinatal mental health

The team help mums pre and post birth who have a range of needs, such as depression and anxiety.

Maternal mental health

The team provide support and therapy for women and birthing people who are experiencing moderate to severe distress related to pregnancy, childbirth, previous birth trauma (and are currently pregnant) or the loss of a baby.

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

Total Wellbeing

Self referral on 0300 555 4152 or onlineĀ 

Berkshire Talking Therapies

Self-refer on 0300 365 2000 or onlineĀ 

Hertfordshire Wellbeing Service

Call 0800 6444 101 or refer onlineĀ 

Oxfordshire Talking Space Plus

Self-refer on 01865 901222 or online

Crisis Team

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.

01865 902000

24 hours a day, every day on 116 123Ā 

Shout 85258

A free, confidential, anonymous text support service available 24/7. For immediate support, text SHOUT to 85258 to share what’s worrying you. .

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

A free and confidential helpline and webchat, 7 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Women’s Aid


24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

P3 Charity

Advice and support for housing, homelessness, education, employment, finance and benefits, debt, sexual health and relationships.

Live Well Stay Well

A free service helping people to lose weight, quit smoking, get more active, feel happier or manage their diabetes and the emotional challenges of managing long-term conditions.



As a new dad or non-birthing partner you will likely feel excited, but you may also feel left out, unsure or overwhelmed. The DadPad can help by giving you the knowledge and practical skills that you need.

PANDAs Foundation

A postnatal support community offering peer-to-peer support for you, your family and every parent or network affected by perinatal mental illness.

Queer Parenting Partnership

A group of LGBTQ-identified birth and postpartum professionals who work together to support LGBTQ families during family building and early parenting.