Circular puzzle with piece highlighted in the middle and a picture of a mum and two babies in the middle

Defining essential perinatal mental health care: parent-infant 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 parent-infant services in providing essential perinatal mental health care?

    • Some parents may experience difficulties in their relationship with their babies.


    • With the right training and support, practitioners across the healthcare system, including health visitors and midwives, can support and strengthen parent-infant relationships.


    • When mothers access specialist perinatal mental health (PMH) services, the support available needs to include parent-infant relationship support that’s delivered by professionals trained in this area.


    • Families facing particularly complex challenges in their early relationships but are not under the care of a specialist PMH team need to still be able to access specialised parent-infant relationship support.


    • Parent-infant services should play a role in preventing relationship problems between a parent and their baby and help to solve any issues at an early stage. They should also support early relationship building in all families, not just those experiencing difficulties.


    • Specialised parent-infant relationship teams are multidisciplinary teams led by a highly trained mental health professional, such as a clinical psychologist and/or a child psychotherapist with expertise in supporting early relationships. These teams provide direct therapeutic support to families experiencing severe, complex and/or enduring problems in their early relationships. They should also offer expertise, consultation and supervision to professionals across local healthcare systems.

If you would like further information about parent-infant services, please see:

    1. Parent-Infant Foundation’s Rare Jewels report
    2. Early Intervention Foundation’s update of the Healthy Child Programme
    3. Resources from the Brazelton Centre UK

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


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