All posts by Amy Tubb

Reflections on the latest findings from MBRRACE (2018-20)

By Laura Seebohm, CEO of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA)

Many of us steel ourselves each year to read the MBRRACE’s Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK and Ireland. The findings launched today are tragic; I think we probably all knew that they would be. The report covers the period 2018 – 2020, during which time we experienced our first lockdown and a light was shone on mental health and deep-seated deprivation and inequality in this country.

Before reflecting on today’s report, I want to explicitly acknowledge the importance of these enquiries. The methodology used is honourable, underpinned by a philosophy ‘to recognise and respect every maternal death as a young woman who died before her time, a mother, a member of a family and of her community’ (Gwyneth Lewis OBE, former Chair). Going well beyond the statistics, these reports tell stories. They are fundamental to how we learn lessons and save lives in the future.

Continue reading Reflections on the latest findings from MBRRACE (2018-20)

MBRRACE: 40% of maternal deaths in first postnatal year due to mental ill-health

Today, MBRRACE-UK published their latest Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths in the UK and Ireland.

The Saving Lives Improving Mothers’ Care 2022 report investigates the deaths of women during or up to one year after pregnancy between 2018 and 2020. MBRRACE examines the reasons why each of the women died, what can be learnt from these tragic deaths and urgent recommendations to improve care and save lives.

Sounding the alarm

Worryingly, this year’s report shows that the number of maternal deaths caused by mental health problems is increasing. It also finds that many of the women who died faced multiple disadvantages, including mental health problems, domestic abuse and addiction. Continue reading MBRRACE: 40% of maternal deaths in first postnatal year due to mental ill-health

The MMHA invites The Princess of Wales to Hillingdon to showcase benefit of joined-up perinatal mental healthcare

The Princess of Wales, Patron of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), visited Colham Manor Children’s Centre in Hillingdon today. The visit highlighted the life-changing impact that the provision of an integrated, multi-disciplinary system of care can have for mothers experiencing perinatal mental health issues.

By working collaboratively, health, social care services, and the voluntary and community sector can help to ensure every touchpoint of a mother’s journey before, during and after pregnancy provides effective support for their mental health needs. During The Princess’ visit to the Children’s Centre, she heard how the care provided in The London Borough of Hillingdon demonstrates the benefits of this joined-up approach. Continue reading The MMHA invites The Princess of Wales to Hillingdon to showcase benefit of joined-up perinatal mental healthcare

Summer 2022 Everyone’s Business eBulletin out now!

The MMHA Summer 2022 eBulletin has all the latest news from our Everyone’s Business campaign and the UK perinatal mental health (PMH) community, including:

    1. New research into perinatal workforce gaps
    2. PMH service developments from across the UK
    3. New resources from MMHA member Refugee Women Connect to help health professionals provide better care for pregnant women in the asylum system.

Download now

Please share widely on social media, tagging @MMHAlliance and #EveryonesBusiness.

 

See previous editions here.

 

Parity between mental and physical health is fundamental to getting it right for women, babies and families

By Laura Seebohm, CEO

I joined the wonderful Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) earlier this year, new to the world of perinatal mental health. I’ve been blown away by the incredible commitment and passion of the perinatal mental health sector – whether I talk to charities, experts by experience, specialist teams in Mother and Baby Units (MBUs), obstetricians on maternity wards, policymakers and politicians – people involved with perinatal mental health come with vitality, energy, and determination for our purpose. I hope that everyone realises how valuable and now refreshing this is.

With many years in the women and girls sector, this is not a totally new landscape but the biggest surprise for me, coming specifically into the maternal mental health sector, was just how huge the distance is between investment, data and attention given to maternal mental health compared to physical health for new and expectant mothers.

In recent months, various new consultations and initiatives have been announced focusing on women’s health in England, Scotland, and Wales. The recent publication of the Women’s Health Strategy for England, the Maternity Disparities Taskforce, and the appointment of Lesley Regan as Women’s Health Ambassador are important milestones in addressing the health inequalities women face. Continue reading Parity between mental and physical health is fundamental to getting it right for women, babies and families

Black Maternal Mental Health Week 2022

What is Black Maternal Mental Health Week #BMMHW22?

Equity in Black Women's Maternal Mental Health Journey 26th Sep - 3rd OctBlack Maternal Mental Health Week UK was launched to raise awareness, highlight disparities, provide resources, and break cultural barriers in maternal mental health for Black mothers.

When is Black Maternal Mental Health Week?

The third annual BMMHW will take place from Monday 26 September – Sunday 2 October 2022.

Who is it organised by?

The week is coordinated and led by Maternal Mental Health Alliance member, The Motherhood Group. Continue reading Black Maternal Mental Health Week 2022

Government publishes 10-year Women’s Health Strategy for England

“When we get it right for women, everyone in our society benefits.”
– Professor Dame Lesley Regan, Women’s Health Ambassador

Today, the Government released their first ‘Women’s Health Strategy for England‘, detailing:

    • their ambitions over the next 10 years
    • actions they are taking now to improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls in England.

From March to June 2021, the Government held a call for evidence to inform the strategy’s development. They received nearly 100,000 responses from women across the country, and over 400 written submissions from organisations and experts in health and care. The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) and many of its members were among the submissions, bringing attention to women’s mental health needs before, during and after pregnancy. Continue reading Government publishes 10-year Women’s Health Strategy for England

Trustee Recruitment: doing things differently

“What we do is more important than what we say, or what we say we believe.”
Bell Hooks (2014)

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) Board has recently recruited three new trustees. This has brought us to what will be many milestones in our journey to ensure equity, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do.

We set out from the start to do this recruitment very differently and, in this blog, we want to share what we have learned along the way. Continue reading Trustee Recruitment: doing things differently

A Year of Hope: the impact of Uned Gobaith in its first year

On 19 April 2021, the inpatient mother and baby unit (MBU) Uned Gobaith/Unit of Hope opened its doors for the first time to women, babies, and families in Wales affected by severe perinatal mental health problems.

After many years of working alongside other organisations and women and families with lived experience to campaign for an MBU in Wales, the opening of Uned Gobaith marked a significant step forward in ensuring that women needing specialist inpatient support in Wales could access this vital provision closer to home.

At the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), we wanted to mark the one-year anniversary of Uned Gobaith opening and bring to light the difference it has made to women and their families in Wales. We worked in partnership with MMHA member, NSPCC Cymru/Wales, the staff at Uned Gobaith and the Swansea Bay University Health Board to host a two-hour webinar to celebrate all of the hard work and commitment of those working on and with Uned Gobaith. Continue reading A Year of Hope: the impact of Uned Gobaith in its first year

Abi’s story

It’s estimated that around 13% of expectant or new mums are living with an eating disorder.

Abi (Edinburgh)

In 2019, I was pregnant with my second child, feeling delighted, excited, and… utterly terrified. Why? Because since the birth of my first son, I had been battling an undiagnosed eating disorder that dominated every aspect of my life.

I remember thinking that because I was pregnant, my body and mind might somehow reset; that I’d manage to eat properly again and stop over-exercising. But, as the weeks passed and my baby grew inside me, that was far from the reality. I felt possessed, paralysed, and like the worst mother in the world.

A terrifying eating disorder

From early on in my pregnancy, I would tell my midwife at each appointment that it felt like a huge mental battle to eat enough and stop exercising too much. At six months pregnant, I was very clearly and firmly told by a consultant obstetrician that I had an eating disorder and needed help.

The responses I got from these healthcare professionals, as well as others, were totally inadequate, even detrimental. Not because of individual fault or a lack of dedication, but rather because of a complete lack of awareness, education and understanding. Eating disorders are simply not on the radar of most perinatal professionals.

Eventually, when I was nearly eight months pregnant, I reached a breaking point. I went to my GP and begged for help, having previously had my concerns dismissed. She weighed me, asked me what help I thought I needed, and since my weight and mental symptoms were clearly concerning, she referred me urgently to eating disorder services.

The treatment which followed was undoubtedly lifesaving, but juggling it with raising a newborn baby and an older child took its toll. So much so that when my baby was eight months old, I was admitted to a mother and baby unit (MBU) in a psychiatric crisis.

Making sure mums are supported

My baby is three now, and I’m in a much-improved place – both physically and mentally – thanks to my eating disorder team, family and friends. I’ve started delivering lived experience perinatal mental health and eating disorder training to healthcare professionals, on behalf of an eating disorders charity called Wednesday’s Child.

For professionals, we provide a wealth of practical guidance, resources and lived-experience insight to help them support a new or expectant parent who has an eating disorder. We’ve also developed e-learning modules and a free befriending programme to help expectant mums and new parents suffering from an eating disorder.

Eating disorders thrive in secrecy and shame, and it is vital that mums going through what I did receive specialist and compassionate support. It is high time that eating disorders during the perinatal period are brought out of the shadows, once and for all.

For more information, read Abi’s guest blog for Eating Disorders Awareness Week: ‘Eating disorders and the perinatal period

 


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