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.

This film, produced by Perinatal Positivity, uses the real voices and experiences of women and men who have had mental wellbeing difficulties around the time of pregnancy, childbirth and beyond:

Asking about your mental health

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

Bonding with your baby

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.