Maternal Mental Health

1 May 2023

If you are struggling, feeling low or anxious and need some support there are services that can help you and your family. A collection of resources and support services are available in the poster below. If you need mental health support go to the Help in a crisis page. It's ok to not be ok.

1 in 5 women experience mental health challenges before, during or after their pregnancy

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust is creating a movement and raising awareness of the complexities many women, men and parents endure before, during and after pregnancy for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week.

Approximately 385,000 babies are born daily around the world. For many, this is a time of great joy, for others it is time filled with anxiety and fear. Studies show that tokophobia (severe fear of childbirth) affects 14% of the world’s population and is on the rise.

In a recent podcast by ‘Conversations with Perinatal Psychology’, Sam Dyer-French, a Peer Support Worker for the Maternity Mental Health Service at the NHS Trust talks about her traumatic experience with her pregnancy and childbirth.

“I always knew I was going to struggle with pregnancy because I’ve had lifelong phobias and a history of anxiety and depression, so I knew there would be help that I needed and thankfully my community midwife picked up on that immediately, referring me to the maternity mental health service where I learned techniques to help with my anxieties.”

Dr Donna Rutherford, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust adds,

“Our mental wellbeing affects how we feel inside, how we think, our relationships, and what we feel we are able to do.

Becoming a parent is a big life event. We know that one in five people will experience mental health difficulties either before, during or after their pregnancy and that is why it is so important to talk about this, so people don’t feel like they are struggling alone.”

Talking about her traumatic experience with childbirth, Sam said: “I did have a traumatic birth which made me feel stressed and anxious. Everyone tells you about this sudden rush of love you get when you first hold your baby, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel like this was my baby. It troubled me that I didn’t have that rush of love and that felt traumatic for me.

“I began to realise that this is normal to feel different and there shouldn’t be a stigma.”

Sam and the whole team at Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental health to talk about their struggles, joys, worries and fears to their friends, colleagues, and family, or to seek professional help, because we are stronger together.

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