When someone is feeling emotionally well, they will have a positive sense of wellbeing, which enables them to function in society and meet the demands of everyday life. People in good mental health have the ability to recover effectively from illness, change or misfortune.
Having a baby is a big life event, and it is natural to experience a range of emotions and reactions during and after your pregnancy. If you are pregnant or have had a baby and your emotions start to have a big impact on how you live your life, you might be experiencing a mental health problem.
Around 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth. This might be a new mental health problem or another episode of a mental health problem you’ve experienced before. These are known as perinatal mental health problems. Both mothers and fathers can experience perinatal mental health problems.
It can be really difficult to feel able to talk openly about how you’re feeling when you become a new parent. You might feel
- pressure to be happy and excited
- like you have to be on top of everything
- worried you’re a bad parent if you’re struggling with your mental health
- worried that your baby will be taken away from you if you admit how you’re feeling
But it’s important to ask for help or support if you need it. You’re likely to find that many new mothers are feeling the same way.
Health visitors ask all mothers (and their partners) about their emotional health at every contact, as they know how important it is for you, your partner and your baby to receive the mental health support you need.
Your health visitor can offer support, advice and information about looking after your baby while managing your mental health. You can also talk to them about anything you’re worried about, or any difficult feelings or thoughts you’re having. They will ask you questions called Whooley questions and may complete the Edinburgh postnatal depression questionnaire with you to allow you to identify your mental health needs.
They can let you know about other services in your area or might suggest you speak to your doctor, or you can refer yourself to Talking Therapies.
Your health visitor can also offer support and advice about promoting your baby’s emotional health and wellbeing. They can also advise you on local groups and activities for you and your baby.
Managing your mental health
If you have an existing mental health condition and become pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant, it’s important to think about how you can manage your mental health during this time. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to help you make plans to manage your mental health during pregnancy, including advising on any medication you are taking.