“Know the signs and seek help if you are struggling” is the advice to pregnant or new mums from a lead clinician at the Trust.

Stef Maudsley, Consultant Nurse in our Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service is sharing the information to coincide with the start of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week which begins on Monday (29 April), in a bid to encourage people to speak up if they need some support and to reassure mothers that these challenges do not reflect on them as parents.

Steph said:

“As a team we see many pregnant or new mums with mental health challenges feeling like they aren’t good enough, that they should be grateful, be having the best time, and experiencing shame that they are finding it hard to cope or bond with their baby.  Adjusting to being a new parent is hard, life changes completely and it can feel overwhelming with many added challenges like feeding and lack of sleep.

There are red flag signs which you may recognise in yourself or a loved one, which may point to being overwhelmed and needing some extra support quickly.”

Signs to look out for include:

  1. Having new thoughts or feelings that you have never had before which make you feel anxious or disturbed.
  2. Experiencing thoughts of suicide, serious self-harm, or running away.
  3. Struggling to sleep.
  4. Feelings of incompetence, finding it hard to cope and bond with your baby.
  5. The above feelings becoming persistent and like they are getting worse.

“If you notice these signs, please tell someone you trust. You can also access mental health services urgently in Lancashire and South Cumbria by calling 0800 953 0110.”

According to NHS Inform, as many as one in five women experience mental health difficulties during pregnancy and the year after birth.

As part of the Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Service, Stef and her colleagues work closely with a variety of services including midwives and health visitors to assist pregnant and new mums. They support people in the community and those who are too unwell to be helped at home at Ribblemere, a mother and baby unit based at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital. Babies and mothers are admitted together.

Stef added:

 “Your health and wellbeing as a mum is just as important as your baby’s so please speak to any health professional including your health visitor or midwife if you are struggling with your mental health. They can support you or refer you for more specialist help and our aim will always be to strengthen the bond between you and your child.       

It is also important to know that  if you have a history of severe mental health problems, you can access specific support to plan for your pregnancy. Ask your GP about referral to our service for pre- conception advice or for support during your pregnancy.”

Stef has also stressed the importance of having people around you who can help:

“Remember the importance of having good support networks in place so you don’t feel isolated, such as friends or family you can talk to, or to look after baby while you have some ‘me time’ or a couple of hours’ sleep.”

We are sharing some helpful perintal mental health support helpful websites, available at lscft.nhs.uk/our-services/service-finder-z/perinatal-mental-health/useful-resources or alternatively:

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Maternal Mental Health Alliance

Action on Post Partum Psychosis

ICON Cope (advice for parents coping with crying babies)