Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust is encouraging all parents who are struggling with their mental health to reach out and ask for help this Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond.
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a week-long campaign dedicated to talking about mental health issues before, during and after pregnancy. Throughout the week, the Trust is aiming to raise awareness of some of support available to parents in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Around 1 in 5 women experience a perinatal mental health problem during pregnancy or within the early postnatal years, with almost three quarters of those who have an illness hiding it or underplaying what they are going through.
Tanya Hibbert, executive director of mental health services at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “Having a baby is a completely life-changing experience. Many new parents will find that having a baby impacts their emotional wellbeing and mental health; although it can be a very special time, it can also be stressful and exhausting. This can be because of a lack of routine, lack of sleep and getting to know your baby, which can all take time to adjust to.
“Though some mood changes are anticipated and considered normal, it is important for people to seek help as soon they notice any mood changes that are having a greater impact on their life. When problems with emotional wellbeing or mental health are diagnosed early, help and support or treatment will be offered, so things become easier for you and your family, and recovery can be much quicker.
“Please just start by reaching out to someone; a family member, friend, health visitor, midwife or speak to your GP. There are people out there who want to help and support you to feel better.”
Signs to look out for
If you notice that you, or someone you know who is pregnant or has recently had a baby, has any of the following symptoms please encourage them to seek support.
- Feeling tearful, anxious or low for more than 2 weeks
- Feeling much more irritable or angry than usual
- Feeling hopeless, as though things will not get better
- Significant changes to your appetite, such as eating more for comfort or forgetting to eat
- A loss of enjoyment or interest in anything
- Avoiding other people
- Struggling to bond with your baby
- Feelings of inadequacy/incompetency as a mother
- Frequent crying for no obvious reason
- Constantly worrying or feeling anxious; you might notice a racing pulse, thumping heart, breathlessness or sweating.
It is important to remember that fathers and partners can be affected and experience these symptoms too.
If you have a history of depression or other mental health problems, or if there’s a family history of mental health problems following childbirth, discuss this with your GP, midwife, health visitor or mental health team when you’re pregnant or thinking of having a baby to receive support.
What support is available?
There are many ways you can access support. Start by speaking to someone.
In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland you can speak to:
- Your GP
- Your health visitor
- Your midwife or obstetrician
Where you may need specialist support, they may refer you to our Perinatal Mental Health Service, which supports people who have complex or severe mental health issues relating to pregnancy, childbirth and the first year following a child’s birth, or our Maternal Mental Health Service, which helps people with moderate to severe difficulties related to birth trauma, baby loss, and tokophobia (a fear of pregnancy).
You can also speak to a qualified health professional using either the ChatHealth or Mum’s Mind secure text messaging services. Please note that neither are crisis services.
The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.
Leicester City: text 07520 615381
Leicestershire and Rutland: text 07520 615382
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs the first dedicated perinatal mental health ChatHealth text messaging service. It offers advice and information to support mothers across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland who struggle with mental health issues during pregnancy and baby’s first year, including advice on a range of issues, from sleep problems, anxiety and panic attacks to depression, psychosis, OCD and medication concerns. It can also help with practical advice on issues, such as mums who might be experiencing bonding and attachment issues in pregnancy and after the birth of their baby.
Family members and loved ones who are concerned about the mental well-being of a new mum during the perinatal period can also use the service to get advice and guidance.
The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a member of the perinatal mental health team within 24 hours. Outside of the working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line re-opens.
Text: 07507 330 026
For urgent help and support
Anyone needing immediate help with their mental health living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland can call the Mental Health Central Access Point Freephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 800 3302. Alternatively call NHS 111 for physical, medical and mental health issues.
Always call 999 if there is a threat to life.
- Health for Under 5s
- View this NHS video of mums talking about postnatal depression
Self-care tips that can help to support your emotional wellbeing
It can help to find ways to look after yourself when becoming a new parent. Some ways you can do this are:
- Building a support network – try to get out to local parent and baby groups, peer support networks or do an activity with friends or family.
- Accept help if it is offered and you feel comfortable doing so, for example with shopping, cooking or cleaning.
- Try not to put pressure on yourself to keep up with all the things you used to do or set unrealistic standards.
- Keep active, even if it is going for a walk with the pram. Physical activity can help to boost your mood.
About Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week
Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership (PMHP) and was first launched in 2017. This year’s theme is ‘Together In A Changing World’, which is about connecting communities, virtual and real life support, and focusing on working together for all families. Wednesday 3 May is also World Maternal Mental Health Day, with the theme ‘Stronger Together’.