All posts by Amy Tubb

Coronavirus and maternal mental health guidance from MMHA members

Last updated: 01/04/2020 at 17:01

Outbreaks of disease, like coronavirus (Covid-19), can understandably cause worry.

With more than 1 in 10 women developing a mental illness in the perinatal period, it’s even more important in these uncertain times that women during pregnancy and following childbirth are able to access the support and care they and their families need.

Since the outbreak, Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) members across the UK have offered guidance and support:

    1. For health professionals working with women and families in the perinatal period
    2. For new and expectant parents
    3. To help us all look after our mental health and wellbeing

Guidance for health professionals

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) have produced COVID-19 guidance for clinicians working in community and inpatient services, including perinatal mental health teams and Mother and Baby Units.

As well as information for pregnant women and their families (see below), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have published guidance for healthcare professionals on COVID-19 infection in pregnancy, with support from Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is closely following the advice and reports of the UK Government to keep health visitors up-to-date.


Guidance for new and expectant parents

Emotional support and mental health
Our support page has a list of member organisations who offer support online and over the phone to anyone in the UK experiencing difficulties with their mental health.

Perinatal mental health and Covid-19

Alliance members have been busy producing information to support new and expectant parents during this uncertain time, including:

Physical health during and after pregnancy
The RCM, RCOG, and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have co-published coronavirus information for pregnant women and their families.

Tommy’s has shared some FAQs which are being regularly updated in response to latest recommendations from the NHS and Royal Colleges. Their midwives are also answering questions via email and social media (see support page for details).

Best Beginnings have updated the Baby Buddy app to include information about Covid-19 during pregnancy and early parenthood, including infant feeding. App users also have access to 24/7 crisis support (see support page for more).

Practical support, including rights at work
Maternity Action has compiled some helpful facts about coronavirus and rights at work during pregnancy, in response to the Government’s advice about self-isolation.

Labour, birth and birth partners
The RCM and RCOG have released a joint statement about birth partners:

“Having a trusted birth partner present throughout labour is known to make a significant difference to the safety and well-being of women in childbirth. At times like this, when coronavirus is heightening anxiety, that reassurance is more important then ever.

“While we concur with decisions to restrict access to birth partners who have or are suspected of having coronavirus in order to safeguard the health of the woman and the maternity staff supporting her, NHS Trusts and Boards should continue to follow guidance allowing birth partners access to the maternity suite.

“Localised restrictions on visitors may mean that partners are not able to attend routine antenatal appointments or stay with women on antenatal or postnatal wards. However, this should not impact on a birth partner’s presence during labour and the birth, unless they are unwell.”


Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak

The Mental Health Foundation have developed some tips to help people look after their mental health at a time when there is much discussion about our physical health. Tips include:

    1. Avoid speculation and focus on reputable sources
    2. Try to stay connected
    3. Manage how you follow the outbreak in the media.

Mind have also produced information to help people cope if they’re feeling anxious or worried about coronavirus, particularly those in isolation.

Public Health England have released guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus, including advice for those with specific mental health needs.

 


Please note that the MMHA is not responsible for the content of any of the links above but hopes that they may provide comfort and help at this time.

Winter 2019/20 Everyone’s Business eBulletin out now!

Front cover of the MMHA Everyone's Business Winter 2019/20 eBulletin
Download now

The Everyone’s Business Winter 2019/20 eBulletin contains all the latest campaign news and updates from the UK perinatal mental health (PMH) community, including:

  1. What Northern Ireland’s Executive reinstatement means for women and families
  2. New Government’s promise to make UK the best place in the world to give birth
  3. Existing concerns in Scotland and Wales
  4. Response to MBRRACE-UK’s latest Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths.

Please share widely among your networks! On Twitter, don’t forget to tag @MMHAlliance and #everyonesbusiness.

Don’t miss out

Sign up to our mailing list to recieve our campaign news every quarter, straight to your inbox.

For physical copies, please email sian@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.

New mothers in England to receive dedicated six-week check

Last week, MMHA member NCT were able to celebrate after hearing the news that NHS England and the British Medical Association have agreed to fund a six-week assessment for mums under the new GP contract. They won’t have to wait long for the change either, as plans come into effect from April 2020. Continue reading New mothers in England to receive dedicated six-week check

Maternal suicide still the leading cause of death in first postnatal year

Infographic showing key statistics from latest MBRRACE enquiry into maternal deaths

On 13th December 2019, MBRRACE-UK published their latest Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK and Ireland.

The Saving Lives, Improving Mothers’ Care 2019 report investigates the deaths of women during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2015 and 2017. MBRRACE examines the reasons why each of the women died and what can be done to improve maternity care in the future. Continue reading Maternal suicide still the leading cause of death in first postnatal year

Autumn 2019 Everyone’s Business eBulletin out now

 

The Everyone’s Business Autumn 2019 eBulletin has all the latest campaign news, including:

  • An examination of NHS England’s Mental Health Implementation Plan
  • Encouraging updates from Scotland, but questions remain
  • Wales’ Mother and Baby Unit update
  • A roundup of members’ fantastic resources and campaigns.
Download now

 

Please share widely! If you are on Twitter, retweet the eBulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

Don’t miss out

If you want our quarterly campaign news straight to your inbox, sign up to our mailing list using the box on the right.

For physical copies, email sian@maternalmentalhealthalliance.org.

Gill’s story

I want to let other mums know that they’re not alone in how they feel, that they and their mental health matter, and they deserve to be well and happy.

Gill’s story (Aberdeenshire)

Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is under recognised and under discussed. Many women find childbirth traumatic but have few outlets for these feelings and little opportunity to talk about their experiences, as the prevailing opinion seems to be “a healthy baby is all that matters”.

I want to let other mums know that they’re not alone in how they feel, that they and their mental health matter, and they deserve to be well and happy.

Finally diagnosed correctly

It was five months after the birth of my daughter that I finally admitted that I needed help. Originally, I was misdiagnosed with postnatal depression and prescribed anti-depressant medication. As I disagreed with the diagnosis, I did not take the medication and pressed for a second opinion.

After the subsequent assessment, I was told I had a complex PTSD and referred to a psychologist. It was only then, more than one year after giving birth to my daughter, that I started to receive the specialist perinatal mental health support I needed.

Rural location creates challenges

My psychological treatment was incredibly helpful. I took part in talking therapy, had EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) and Schema therapy. But I do despair that it took so long to access the right support for me.

In part, I think this is due to living in rural Aberdeenshire. As well as NHS services being stretched, we are also underserved by the third sector and in addition can’t easily connect with peer support services.   

I’m lucky, I eventually received the right perinatal treatment, but some women aren’t even being diagnosed. This is why I share my story; to raise awareness that perinatal mental health problems can happen to anyone and call for better specialist support.

 

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.

Implementing PIMH funding in Scotland: opportunities and risks

Blog by Clare Thompson, Everyone’s Business Co-ordinator for Scotland

In this article, I will discuss the recent work done by the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Implementation Programme Board, the meetings of which I attend in my capacity as a Change Agent for Maternal Mental Health Scotland and an Everyone’s Business champion. Continue reading Implementing PIMH funding in Scotland: opportunities and risks

New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

A recent survey, conducted by Healthwatch England, of 1,738 women who had been affected by perinatal mental health problems highlights inconsistencies in support during pregnancy and after having a baby, despite national NICE guidelines.

In their most recent report ‘Mental health and the journey to parenthood’, Healthwatch outline their findings. Continue reading New Healthwatch report finds perinatal mental health support is variable

Lucie’s story

Emma’s death should not be in vain.

Lucie’s story (Surrey)

There are no words to describe losing a sibling at such a young age; and this loss is even more tragic because I know with the right support my big sister’s passing could have been avoided. If she’d received the perinatal mental care she needed after her son’s birth, she would still be here today.

But in the UK, the sad reality is that many new mums are suffering with perinatal mental health issues on their own. Statistically, depression and anxiety affects 15 to 20% of women in the first year after childbirth, but many cases of perinatal depression and anxiety still go undetected.

Mental health is still taboo

As a young mum, I’ve witnessed this prevalence first hand. A few weeks ago, I looked around the small toddler group I attend and realised there were at least three mums who had spoken to me about their perinatal mental health issues, and they were just the ones who had confided in me.

Unfortunately, in our culture, mental health remains a taboo that we feel the need to hide and often have secret internal battles with. But if the mums I meet every week didn’t have to put on a brave face and knew they weren’t the only person in the room struggling, they’d all have an immediate support network.

We must push for change

As well as getting more people to talk about mental health before and after birth, it’s vital all women in the UK who experience perinatal mental illness receive the care they and their families need. I know if it was me who had died, Emma would have tirelessly pushed for this change.

That’s why I wanted to share my story and wholeheartedly support the Everyone’s Business campaign. For me, Emma’s death should not be in vain. We owe it to her and her son to prevent the mental ill health of other pregnant and postnatal women going unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated.

 

If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.