What is Perinatal Mental Health?

Having a baby is a major life event for mums and dads, and it’s natural to experience a range of emotions during and after pregnancy. But if these feelings start to have an impact on day-to-day life, it’s time to talk to someone.

Perinatal mental health issues – those which occur during pregnancy or during the baby’s first year – affect one in five women and could have long-lasting effects on the woman and her family if left untreated.

But many perinatal mental health issues are treatable and recognising the signs early and seeking support promptly improves recovery and outcomes for mums and their babies.

The Every Mum Matters campaign has launched in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire to support new and expectant mums and their families to be able to recognise symptoms of perinatal mental health problems early and encourage them to seek help promptly. Specialist services and support are available in these areas.

What are the symptoms?

Perinatal mental health covers a wide range of issues: some mild to moderate, others moderate to severe. The symptoms can often be hard to spot, so we’ve put together this short animated video which explains what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to seek help.

Some of the main things you might feel:

  • You’re Overwhelmed, Low, Hopeless,​
  • Very emotional, ​
  • As if something bad might happen, and that it’s your fault,​
  • Everything is out of control, or you need to prove you’re competent, ​
  • You’re having negative and scary intrusive thoughts,​
  • It’s hard to be positive about baby, ​
  • You don’t want to get out of bed, ​
  • Day-to-day tasks are getting harder to do,​
  • Like ending your life.​
  • You’re letting baby down, or you’re not there for the partner.

Some of the main things you might see:​

  • Mum not sleeping, even when baby is,
  • Bizarre behaviour (anything out of character),
  • Controlling behaviours – they won’t let you or anyone help,
  • Low mood, crying, very emotional, 
  • Fretting over baby’s welfare,
  • Mum struggling get out of bed, and do everyday tasks, 
  • Change in lifestyle – Stop doing things they used to do/wanting to,
  • Increased stress or anger aimed at you or other significant people,
  • Physical health changing or deteriorating,
  • Changes in relationships with older children, or differences between how did they felt after that baby,

Getting help

There is lots of support available in your local area, including a new Specialist Community Perinatal Mental Health service which covers Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire areas.

Find out more about the specialist community perinatal mental health service in these areas here.

If you are concerned that you are experiencing perinatal mental health problems please speak to a friend, relative or health professional so you can get help and support.

The health professionals involved in your care, such as your GP, midwife or health visitor, will be able to offer support and refer you to an appropriate service.

Hayley’s Story

Hayley, a 32-year-old mother of four from Leven in the East Riding of Yorkshire, was referred to the specialist community perinatal mental health team in Hull after her daughter Grace was born in 2018. She is sharing her story to help others experiencing perinatal mental health issues.

View from a specialist

Jenny is a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health nurse who works with women struggling with mental health issues during the perinatal period.

She said: “Often the women I work with are reluctant to seek help because they are scared they’ll be judged, that it means they’ve failed and they’re terrified that their baby will be taken from them. ​

“We need to tackle the stigma surrounding perinatal mental health. If you’re struggling, the best thing you can do is reach out for help. We are here to support you, not judge you.”

The Every Mum Matters campaign has been launched by the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership in Hull, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

The Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership is a collaboration of 28 different health and social care organisations who are working together to improve health and care across our area.

The Humber, Coast and Vale area stretches along the east coast of England from Scarborough to Cleethorpes, incorporating the cities of Hull and York and large rural areas across Northern Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire, with a total population of around 1.4 million people.

To see the full list of organisations that are part of Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership please click here

Humber Coast & Vale