All about maternal mental health

It's more than postnatal depression.

What is maternal mental health?

You may have heard the terms "perinatal mental health" and "maternal mental health" used interchangeably. Both refer to mental health during pregnancy and up to two years after giving birth.

The word "peri" comes from Latin and means "around," while "natal" means "birth".

Maternal mental health problems

Most people are aware of postnatal depression, or PND, but depression can also occur during pregnancy. Other perinatal mental illnesses include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.

These illnesses can range from mild to severe, and require specialist treatment as soon as possible. Some conditions may have existed before pregnancy and got worse during the perinatal period, or shown up for the first time.

The most serious perinatal mental health problem is considered to be pregnancy and postpartum psychosis, which should be treated as a medical emergency if suspected. Get to know the symptoms of pregnancy and postpartum psychosis.

Maternal mental health statistics

1 in 5

women experience a perinatal mental health problem


will hide or underplay maternal mental health difficulties


is the leading cause of maternal death in the first postnatal year

Explore the research

What causes maternal mental health problems?

Anyone can experience a perinatal mental health problem, although there are some factors which increase someone's chance of becoming unwell, including:

Treatment and support

The good news is maternal mental health problems are really treatable. With the right care and support, it's possible to recover and enjoy being a parent.

Guidance if you're unwell

Guidance if you are worried that you or a loved one has a maternal mental health problem

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Support organisations

Organisations that offer maternal mental health support

Find help

Tips for staying well

Mental health and wellbeing tips for women who are pregnant or have recently given birth

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