Maternal mental health

Pregnancy and having a baby is a big life event and its very normal to feel lots of different kinds of emotions. But having continued feelings of sadness and low moods and its starting to affect your life maybe a sign you are struggling with your pre and postnatal mental health and there is help out there.

Things to remember during pregnancy to help your mental health.

  • Talking is important- talking to friends, family and your doctor or midwife is really important to get the right support that you need.
  • Attending antenatal classes- is also a really helpful was to prepare you for parenthood and meet other pregnant women, parents and babies.
  • Do not compare yourself- it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others during your pregnancy and when becoming a parent everyone’s experiences are different.
  • It’s okay to ask for help- don’t be worried to ask for help from health care professionals about how you are feeling, they are there to help you.
  • You may need help from others- if trying to help yourself isn’t working talk to your midwife or doctor, they can get you the support from the prenatal mental health team.

What is prenatal and perinatal.

Prenatal is during your pregnancy. 1 in 5 mothers will experience issues with their mental health during pregnancy and up to the first year after giving birth this is called the perinatal period. If left untreated your mental health can have long lasting effects on women, their child, and their family. Specialist perinatal mental health teams can provide the right treatment and care for you and support a developing relationship with parent and baby. Before giving birth, women can experience low moods, depression and anxiety about having a baby and giving birth. It can be natural to feel nervous but when it affects your daily life it could be becoming a problem that you may need help with.

What is postnatal.

Postnatal is after you have a baby. Some mums develop postnatal depression which is the most know issue women face after having a baby. Symptoms of this are feelings of a low mood and sadness. But there are other issues and feeling women may experience after having a baby, they may also have feelings of anxiety. Mothers who have had a challenging birth may also experience post-traumatic stress disorder. No matter what you experience after birth it’s important to reach out and speak to someone about how you feel.

Common postnatal mental health issues.

  • Prenatal depression- you can experience depression whilst you are pregnant and after giving birth. Antenatal depression is when you’re pregnant.
  • Postnatal depression- roughly during the first year after giving birth.
  • Prenatal depression- anytime from becoming pregnant to around one year after giving birth.
  • Perinatal anxiety- many mum experience anxiety during pregnancy and after giving birth. Anxiety can cause tokophobia which is a phobia of giving birth. It’s important to remember there is support out there for you.
  • Perinatal OCD- obsessive compulsive disorder can be experienced during birth and a year after giving birth. 
  • Post-partum psychosis- a rare but serious mental health problem which develops after giving birth. These feelings can be scary and overwhelming but it’s crucial to seek help, so you fully recover.
  • Postpartum PTSD- postpartum PTSD is another type of anxiety disorder. You may experience this after giving birth, this is also called birth trauma. This can occur after experiencing traumatic events during labour or birth.

Managing your existing during mental health.

It’s important to talk about your door of you have problems with your mental health and you get pregnant. Your doctor can help you manage your mental health during pregnancy and help you find the extra support you many need. There is the right support out there for you and you aren’t alone.

Managing your mental health during pregnancy.

You may also find it hard to talk about your mental health with a new baby of you are struggling. You may feel pressure to be happy and that you have to be on top of everything all the time. Lots of mums worry they are a bad parent if you’re struggling with your mental health, but this isn’t the case and there is lots of support out there. These feelings aren’t your fault. You can speak to your GP or your perinatal team.

When to speak to someone.

With the right support, post-natal depression and other paternal mental health issues including anxiety, obstructive thoughts, and PTSD from birth. You should seek help if you feel: 

  • Unable to handle your feelings.
  • Feel numb and over stressed.
  • Feeling as if your emotions aren’t “back to normal”.
  • Losing your sleeping and eating pattens.
  • Finding your relationships with family and friends are struggling.
  • Having no one to turn to.


There are many reasons why you may develop mental health problems during your pregnancy and after giving birth. Nobody knows exactly why they happen, but some have clear causes such as post-natal PTSD for most mums it can be a combination of things such as: 

  • Major life events.
  • previous experiences of mental health.
  • Lack of support.
  • Stressful living conditions.
  • Biological causes.
  • Low self-esteem.

Day three after birth.

Most mums experience baby blues, they can experience tearfulness, low moods and feeling overwhelmed a few days after birth typically day three. But if these symptoms continue you may be suffering from post-natal depression or another post-natal mood disorder. Symptoms are different in every mum, but you may feel:

  • Feeling sad and tearful
  • Having difficulties getting over your birth experience
  • Feeling anxious to be alone with your baby
  • Difficulties adjusting to parenthood or bonding with your baby.
  • Having difficulties with your partner.
  • Feeling stressed and unmotivated.
  • Feeling tired and overwhelmed 


Becoming a parent can be very stressful, but it’s important to find ways to look after you and your mental health whilst working around your responsibilities of parenting. Things you can do to look after yourself are:

Managing daily tasks- finding ways to manage your daily tasks can help you manage what feels like mountains. Coping with your mental help and coping with daily life can feel like a challenge but go easy on yourself you’re doing your best and it takes time to adjust.

Building a support network- talking to other parents is a great way to help you know you aren’t alone and gives you reassurance with anxieties you may be feeling. Going to local baby and parent groups can also be a great wat to meet parents on your area. You can ask your midwife for more information on this. You can also access specials support and access support online.

Looking after yourself- it’s important to find time to look after yourself when pregnant and after having a baby. It’s okay to accept help from others. Some ways to look after yourself may be going for a walk as physical activity is a great way to boost your mood and stay healthy, it’s also important to rest when you can.

Supporting family and friends.

It can be upsetting and frustrating watching a loves one experience perinatal mental health problems, but it’s important to remember it’s not their fault. They may find it hard to ask for help because of the fear of being judged as a bad parent, or that someone will take their baby away. But reassurance is key, let them know you are there for them. Other ways you can help them is by making time for them, keeping in touch, being patient with them, listening to them and don’t judge them.

Support services and places to turn.

There is lots of organisations and support services available to help you during your pregnancy and after birth. These include:

  • Your GP.
  • Your health visitor.
  • Antenatal care.

Specialist support may include:

  • Perinatal mental health teams.
  • Community mental health crisis teams.
  • Hospitals and mum and baby units.

Places to turn.

Action on post-partum psychosis. (APP)

information and support for anyone affected by post-partum psychosis.

The association for post-natal illness. 0207386086

Provides support for women experiencing post-natal depression.

Birth trauma association.

Support for anyone affected by a traumatic birth including partners.

The breastfeeding network. 03001000212

Support and information about breastfeeding and perinatal mental health.

Home start.

Support for families with young children, including details of local services.

Maternal OCD

Information and support for mums experiencing post-natal OCD

Post-partum men.

Information and support for new fathers experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, including online peer support