All posts by Anna France-Williams

Top 10 tips for mums: Perinatal mental health

Top 10 tips for mums: Perinatal mental health

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting BBC Radio 5 live’s #mumtakeover – the UK’s biggest conversation about motherhood and mental health. Here, we share our top tips for looking after your mental health before and after pregnancy.

1) Be realistic

Many of us have visions of what motherhood might be like, perpetuated by images in the media and social media. Try not to put pressure on yourself by building up unrealistic ideals of the birth you’ll have; the activities you’ll do with your baby, or the mother you’ll be. Be prepared to be led by what you and your baby need, rather than a pre-existing plan.

You have produced a human being. That’s amazing. Looking after a baby is hard, so take it easy on yourself. Being ‘good enough’ is just fine!

2) Understand more about mental health and mental illness

In your preparations for becoming a mum, it can be useful to read more about the risk factors for mental illness and the signs of being unwell. This can help you to understand if and when you might need more help. It’s really valuable to share this information with your partner too, so that they can support you. There is a lot of useful information online, such as this fact sheet.

3) Plan and prepare

While you are pregnant, you can plan how you can look after your emotional wellbeing when baby arrives, and what you might do if you’re struggling. Tools like the Emotional Wellbeing plan can help with this.

If you have a history of serious mental illness, health professionals like your midwife and mental health team can plan with you how to manage your illness through pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

Activities like preparing meals to freeze and looking into local activities and groups in advance, can help to make things easier when baby arrives.

#MumTakeover videos on maternal mental health

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting BBC Five live’s #MumTakeover – the UK’s biggest conversation on mums and mental health. Check out some of the videos below,.

Video from former Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain on trusting parental instinct:



Vlogger Mama C on the importance of having a good network to avoid loneliness during and after pregnancy:


How doulas might help those expectant mothers who’ve suffered trauma:


Video on mindfulness for babies:


World Mental Health Day 2017: mental health in the workplace

Today is World Mental Health day; an opportunity ‘for all stakeholders working in mental health to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.’

This year’s World Mental Health Day focusses on mental health in the workplace, a crucial part of the conversation around perinatal mental health. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance recognises the importance of a supportive workplace environment in promoting good maternal mental health. Initiatives such as shared parental leave and flexible working can support this.

If you’d like to get involved in supporting World Mental Health Day, sign the pledge on behalf of your team to commit to being proactive in your support of mental health in the workplace. You can also raise awareness on social media by using the hashtag #WorldMentalHealthDay or #WMHD17.

You can find out more about World Mental Health Day by clicking here.

PND Awareness Week 2017

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance is supporting the second PND Awareness Week 4-10 September 2017. Our member organisation, PANDAS Foundation, held the first Pre and Postnatal Depression Awareness Week last year to highlight mental illnesses during and after pregnancy. This year, the focus is on prenatal mental health or mental health during pregnancy.

Find out how you can get involved here.


The role of a Liaison Psychiatrist in perinatal mental health

.By Susie Lingwood, Liaison Psychiatrist, North Middlesex University Hospital

Susie Lingwood is a Liaison Psychiatrist in north London. The Mums and Babies in Mind team are working with Susie and her colleagues to improve perinatal mental health services in Haringey and the surrounding boroughs. In this blog Susie explains what her role involves, what she has done to improve services and how mums with perinatal mental health problems and their babies are being supported locally.

I work as a Liaison Psychiatrist in the Mental Health Liaison Service at the North Middlesex University Hospital in north London. This isn’t a specific perinatal mental health role, but involves liaising between psychiatry and maternity (and other services). Barnet, Enfield and Haringey (BEH) Mental Health NHS Trust provide the hospital with the service. Our boroughs are currently rated red on the Maternal Mental Health Alliance map as there is no Specialist Perinatal Mental Health service but in October 2016 we were successful in receiving funding from NHS England to develop a specialist team here and I am looking forward to being involved in its development.

Continue reading The role of a Liaison Psychiatrist in perinatal mental health

I’m ready to thrive not just survive: Lindsay Robinson’s story

By Lindsay Robinson, mum, campaigner and advocate for maternal mental health

Lindsay is mum to Reuben and lives and works in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is dedicated to raising awareness of perinatal mental health and helping to improve support for all who struggle. She works with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.

In September 2015 I was finally diagnosed with Postnatal Depression, two years after my son was born. I had experienced a long (undiagnosed) battle with the illness which made me severely ill – mentally, emotionally and physically. Having asked for help, twice, in the early months and not been treated, I then believed how I was feeling was my fault. I used to tell myself I’d “missed the mum gene”. Continue reading I’m ready to thrive not just survive: Lindsay Robinson’s story

RCM launches new report ‘Every mother must get the help they need’

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has published a new report entitled; Every mother must get the help they need*.

The report is inspired by Lucie Holland’s 2015 petition. Lucie Holland’s sister died in tragic circumstances as a result of a devastating mental illness.  Lucie subsequently set up a petition in 2015 about the urgent need for better awareness and care for those affected by perinatal mental illness. This petition went viral with thousands of signatures, and many people left heartfelt comments about their own experiences.

Continue reading RCM launches new report ‘Every mother must get the help they need’

MMHA’s response to NCT’s Hidden Half survey results

Today the NCT launches its ‘Hidden Half’ campaign and releases new findings which show that half (50%) of mothers experienced mental health problems at some time during pregnancy or within the first year of their child’s birth. These can include postnatal depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and postpartum psychosis.

Nearly half (42%) of new mothers’ mental health problems did not get picked up by a doctor or other health professional.

The research also highlights how the six-week postnatal check-up is failing to pick up mental health issues in mothers. The routine health check, six weeks after a baby’s birth, is a vital opportunity to uncover any physical and mental health problems for women and babies.

The NCT is calling for an improvement to the six-week postnatal check-up to reduce the number of mothers who don’t get diagnosed and treated properly. They say that extra funding would go a long way to reduce the pressure GPs face in supporting new mums.

Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, responds to the survey:

“The findings of this valuable survey by the NCT reveal that many new mums with mental health problems are still not getting the support they need. This matches the results of other studies showing that, when it comes to mums’ mental health, the NHS is often not meeting its own quality standards.

The six week check is a golden opportunity to identify women experiencing poor mental health and provide vital help. GPs are often doing their best but more resources and training are desperately needed. Improvements are required in the GP surgery and across the rest of the healthcare system, so that women and their families get access to the quality of services they should expect from the NHS, no matter where they live.”

To read the full story and report:

To sign up to the Hidden Half campaign:




Tackling stigma around perinatal mental illness

By Professor Jane Melton, Director of Engagement and Integration with 2gether NHS Foundation TrustGloucestershire

Mums and Babies in Mind is working in Gloucestershire to support local leaders to improve perinatal mental health services. We asked Jane Melton about the campaign they have developed to help tackle stigma around perinatal mental illness.  Continue reading Tackling stigma around perinatal mental illness

Organisations unite for Maternal Mental Health

May was an important month for raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues: the UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week ran from 1-7 May and World Maternal Mental Health Day took place on 3 May.

It was the first year the UK ran a week of awareness-raising for maternal mental health. Led by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, organisations joined forces  to share how and where mums and their families could seek help and support for perinatal mental health issues. Events, conferences and mini-campaigns took place up and down the country over the course of the week and those participating on social media used the hashtag #maternalMHmatters to join the conversation.

Continue reading Organisations unite for Maternal Mental Health