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
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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.

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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.

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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

MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

This year’s Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) conference, in collaboration with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), will focus on the importance of good relationships in perinatal and infant mental health (PIMH) care.

“We are delighted to collaborate with iHV on their second annual PIMH conference and look forward to welcoming delegates, hearing from those with experience of PIMH care and discussing opportunities to improve relationships and access to specialist services.” Clare Dolman, Vice Chair of the MMHA

Continue reading MMHA collaborates with iHV on PIMH conference #iHVPIMH19

Summer 2019 campaign e-bulletin out now

The Everyone’s Business Summer 2019 e-bulletin has all the latest updates from the Campaign, including details about:

  • Progress in England and the remaining challenges.
  • What’s happening with the £50 million in Scotland
  • How campaigners in Northern Ireland are making the case for specialist services.

Download now

Please share with anyone who may be interested, and if you are on Twitter retweet the e-bulletin from @MMHAlliance using #everyonesbusiness.

Don’t miss out

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

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