Emotional wellbeing and Perinatal Mental Health is important to families, and the perinatal period can be a challenging time. Adjusting to life with a new baby while wonderful can also be hard, and this can greatly impact on parents emotionally.
For some families the transition to parenthood is complicated by a pre-existing mental health condition or one that develops in pregnancy or the postnatal period, such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, PTSD or OCD. In fact the figures show that up to 20% of women will develop a mental health condition during pregnancy or the first year after the birth of their baby.
The impact on families can be devastating, especially if they are unable to access support. Coping day to day becomes hard, relationships can become strained and caring for their new baby overwhelming. For some families so serious is the issue that it can mean not being able functioning or care for their baby. This can mean specialist support by staying in a mental health facility, sometimes meaning mum and baby are separated. Sadly for some families the consequences are the loss of a loved one to the ravages of perinatal mental health.
Birth can be a wonderful time of joy, but many women also find they struggle with a difficult birth experience, especially if they have had a baby in a neonatal unit or their birth didn’t go as they had planned. Letting families know that their voice and story matters can help with understanding feelings about a birth experience and provide needed healing.
It is important that those who care for women during birth and after understand the impact birth can have on perinatal mental health.
After the birth of my first daughter I suffered anxiety, panic attacks and many symptoms I couldn’t explain. It took me many years to access support and get a correct diagnosis. I am now recovered and passionately use my experience to help others, raise awareness and improve maternity services. My experience moved me to set up a support website for PTSD following Birth Trauma called Unfold Your Wings . I also founded Beyond Birth Trauma, to give hope and support healing. I also run the perinatal mental health network facebook discussion group .
Making sure families can assess the support they need is vital. Talking to health care professionals and helping them understand birth trauma and perinatal mental health and how it impacts families is an important part of families getting support. When healthcare professionals are aware of the signs of perinatal mental health conditions, where to signpost families for help and what they can do to support them, it can lessen the devastation that perinatal mental health can ravage on those affected.
I use my experience to help train healthcare professionals, birth workers and others on birth trauma, perinatal mental health, emotional wellbeing in pregnancy and how we can improve care given in our maternity services . I also do public speaking to help raise awareness. Im involved in both national and local pieces of work to support the setting up of perinatal mental health services. I work in the NHS supporting women in their pregnancy, birth and beyond who have low level mental health conditions.
If you would like to know more, or if you would like me to offer a training session, or speak at your event please contact me.
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