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Defining essential perinatal mental health care: maternity services

The MMHA’s ‘Make all care count’ campaign phase highlights and defines eight essential services that can play a crucial role in improving outcomes for women and families affected by perinatal mental health problems.

What is the role of maternity services in providing essential perinatal mental health care?

    • Women and families have regular contact with midwives during and after pregnancy, so they receive support for their mental health needs, as well as their physical wellbeing. This means midwives are well placed to identify mental health concerns, provide support, make initial assessments, and refer people to specialist mental health services.


    • Specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) midwives are experts who are responsible for ensuring women with perinatal mental health problems and their families receive the care and support they need during and after pregnancy. As well as coordinating care and support for individuals, they work with local PMH teams to create care pathways for women and families.


    • Specialist PMH midwives support PMH training across the wider maternity workforce and champion perinatal mental health within maternity care.


    • Obstetricians work closely with specialist PMH midwives and psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers for those families who may need extra mental health support.


    • All obstetricians need to be trained to a basic level in PMH so they know how to deal with acute problems, when to refer someone to a specialist mental health service, and how to do this.

If you would like further information about maternity services, please see:

    1. Specialist mental health midwives: What they do and why they matter (Maternal Mental Health Alliance)
    2. NICE guidance on antenatal and postnatal mental health
    3. The Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists’ websites

If you are aware of any resources it would be useful to add, please email


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