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An image of Hayley - Valleys Steps Wellbeing Practitioner

Together in a Changing World

 

‘ There is no journey more profound and transformative than that of becoming a new parent, so it will come as no surprise that many find  the process to be as challenging as it is surprising. ‘

 

This week is about raising public and professional awareness of Perinatal Illness.  For most of my career as a mental health nurse I worked in the field of Perinatal Mental Health, advocating for women affected by it and helping them to access the information, care and support they need to recover. Raising awareness and being able to signpost is a priority for me; I am aware of the importance of help, support and treatment for women, their baby, partner, and family during pregnancy and following the birth of the baby.   I am very happy to be writing this in the hope that it will reach both women, their family and those working in this field.

 

The aims for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week are to help break down and reduce the stigma and shame surrounding maternal mental health problems. Also to amplify the voices of mother’s who may feel unheard and/or unseen, offer a greater understanding, empathy and support for mother’s/father’s facing mental health problems. It is hoped that discussions will help to demystify maternal mental health problems so members of the public, professionals and support services understand how they can help.

 

There may be several causes and factors that increase the risk of experiencing a maternal mental health problem:

  • History of mental health problems
  • Previous history of perinatal mental health problems
  • Biological and physical causes
  • Traumatic experiences including birth trauma
  • Financial, housing and social issues
  • Life events especially those which happen during pregnancy which can on increase vulnerability
  • Lack of help and support

 

What is Perinatal/Maternal Mental Health?

 The word ‘ peri ‘, comes from Latin and means ‘ around ‘, whilst ‘ natal ‘, means ‘ birth ‘,

Perinatal and Maternal Mental Health are used interchangeably but both refer to mental health during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth. maternal mental health refers to a mother’s overall emotional, social and mental well being both during and after pregnancy. It is well documented that pregnancy can be a difficult time:

 

  • Almost 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health condition during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth.
  • 7 in 10 women will either hide or play down their symptoms.
  • 1 in 10 dads will develop depression during pregnancy and after the birth and 5 to 15% will experience anxiety

 

A common maternal mental health issue called the ‘Baby Blues’ for generations and affects 8 out of 10 new mothers’ during the first 3 to 10 days following the birth of baby. It is a brief and transient period of feeling emotional, tearful, tired and low in mood and usually passes within a short time frame.

It is natural to experience some anxiety and worry during pregnancy and when you have a new baby.11% of women can experience Antenatal and Postnatal Anxiety symptoms such as:

  • Worry
  • Nausea and tummy issues
  • Light head/dizziness
  • Sweats/Chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restless
  • Irritable
  • Aches and pains
  • Poor sleep

If the anxiety persists it is important to contact your midwife, health visitor or GP.

 Ante-natal depression can affect 10% of all pregnant women, in this session though we will focus on Post-natal depression.  Postnatal Depression affects 10 to 15 in every 100 mum’s. It often starts within 1 to 2 months of giving birth and can be gradual or sudden.

1/3 of women who experience postnatal depression have symptoms which started in pregnancy and continue after the birth of baby. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Low mood
  • Feeling tired
  • Tearful
  • Loss of interest/enjoyment in things
  • Negative thoughts
  • Guilt
  • Loneliness

 

So what can you do? 

It’s important to stay connected with your family, friends and community, there are support groups with other pregnant women or new mum’s/dad’s to help avoid becoming isolated 

Self-care is very important during pregnancy and after, practicing mindfulness and planning time to rest and relax are very important; it’s vital to take time to recharge by getting enough sleep. 

Exercise can also help (discuss what you are able to do during pregnancy with your midwife) and get out in nature whenever possible and do some gentle stretching or yoga. Try to do things that bring you joy and pleasure.

Here are some other tips:

  • Nutrition is important and fluid intake.
  • Pause to catch your breath – slow down.
  • Try not to do too much in a day.
  • Shower/bath.
  • Talk to and sing to your baby bump.
  • Take time to be with your baby once they arrive.
  • Seek information from reliable and trustworthy sources.
  • Share any worries/concerns and ask for help/advice whenever you might need it, support and help is available to women and their partner
  • Be kind to yourself/ nourish self – self-compassion.

 If the above doesn’t help we advise you to speak to your GP, Midwife, Health Visitor or any other Health Professional. A referral can be made to the local Perinatal Mental Health Team by the GP.

 

Support and Resources:

Information regarding support and resources is available on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB perinatal mental health team web site.

https://ctmuhb.nhs.wales/services/mental-health/specialist-mental-health-services/perinatal-mental-health/

Mother’s Matter:

www.mothersmattercic.co.uk

Tel: 01443 548588

An organisation based in Tonypandy providing ante and postnatal mental health support to mother/baby, dad’s and families.

Support is offered both in group settings and one to one face to face

Dad Matters Cymru:

www.dadmatters.org.uk>cymru

A project which aims to help dad’s have a positive parent experience during pregnancy and the early years and to  support them with stress, anxiety and mental health issues

Homestart Cymru:

www.homestartcymru.org.uk

A Welsh charity which operates throughout Wales and provides support to families with new baby and young children

MIND Cymru:

www.mind.org.uk

Tel: 0300 123 3393

Mind offers information, support and help for anybody affected by mental health problems and perinatal mental health issues

PANDAS Foundation:

www.pandasfoundation.org.uk

Tel: 0808 1961 776

An organisation offering empathy and support for every parent or network affected by perinatal mental health problems

Offers peer to peer support, group support, online resources and support for dad’s 

Tommy’s:

www.tommys.org

Midwives helpline: 0800 0147 800

9am till 5pm Mon to Fri

Provides information regarding well being and mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year following the birth of your baby and they offer support to dad’s 

Best Beginnings:

www.bestbeginnings.org.uk

The Baby Buddy App

A pregnancy and parenting app full of trusted and reliable information

 Association for Postnatal Illness

APNI

info@apni.org

Tel: 0207 386 0868

10am till 2pm Mon till Fri

A confidential telephone helpline and also provide information  leaflets

 Action on Postpartum Psychosis

app@app-network.org

Tel: 020 4433 990

A national charity for women and their families affected by puerperal Psychosis

 National Childbirth Trust

www.nct.org.uk

Tel: 0300 3300 700

8am till midnight every day

 Bump, Baby and Beyond ( now being replaced by Every Child, Your Pregnancy and Birth ) is a book or digital copy of information for every parent and is  published by Public Health Wales

 

Apps:

 Smiling Mind which offers daily meditation and mindfulness

Headspace

Calm

The Dad Pad

 Resources:

 Helpu: a mental health hub for men in Wales

 Valleyssteps: well being charity based in Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB

www.valleyssteps.org

Tel: 01443 803048

Offers free well being and mindfulness courses both face to face in the community and online ( includes 5 ways to well being )

 Podcasts:

 Happy Mum, Happy Baby

Motherkind: self development and well being for mum’s

 Books:

 A Mindful Pregnancy:  Andy Puddicombe

Mind over Mother: Anna Mathur

Mindfulness for Mum’s: Izzy Judd

Not The Only One: Rachel Mason

 

Lynn Rodgerson

Well-being Practitioner at Valley Steps