Mental health problems during and after pregnancy
Pregnancy can be an emotional time and it’s not unusual to feel worried about what’s ahead. Research shows that many women experience mental health problems during pregnancy – and although only a small percentage are referred to specialist care, it’s important to know that if you’re struggling, support is available and you don’t have to go through it alone
While your body is growing a tiny human, it’s not uncommon to feel nervous about becoming a parent. You’re probably having to cope with less sleep than you’re used to as your body changes shape and keeps you up at night, and it’s also likely that you’re spending a fair bit of time thinking about how you’ll respond to life’s new challenges and responsibilities. Add worries about the baby you’ve not yet met into the mix – and pregnancy can be tough.Going to the doctor is the right thing to do. I had prenatal depression with my daughter too and was referred to counselling. Don't beat yourself about it, you're not a failure, it just happens sometimes.
A new survey from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has shown many women experience mental health problems during or after pregnancy. They surveyed more than 2300 women who had given birth in the past five years and found:
- 81% of respondents had experienced at least one episode of a mental health problem during or after their pregnancy
- Two-thirds reported experiencing low mood, half experienced anxiety and just over a third said they had experienced depression.
- Only 7% of women with mental health problems during or after pregnancy were referred to specialist care
- For 38% of the women who were referred, it took over four weeks to be seen, with some waiting up to a year for treatment
The survey results echo findings from Mumsnet's 2015 survey into medical care for sufferers of postnatal depression, which found that nearly one-third of women who suffered PND did not seek professional help.You have done nothing wrong and you're not to blame. If you feel you can't put it into words in the surgery, write down how you feel beforehand. Eventually it gets better, and there is no shame in getting help.
Professor Lesley Regan, President of the RCOG, said “These survey results reveal the true impact of the care that women with maternal mental health problems currently receive in England and Wales. Only by listening to these women can we learn through their experiences and take urgent action to improve our services.”
“Giving parity of esteem to mental and physical health is crucial. No one is to blame for developing a mental illness and as a society we need to be reinforcing this message constantly.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health problems during or following pregnancy, you don't have to go through it alone. You can find help on the Maternity Mental Health website or find support from others who have had similar experiences on our dedicated Talk forum.