Real life story from MMHA Lived Experience Champion, Elaine Coote
Although my midwife treated me with kindness and met my physical needs, I didn’t feel my mental health was even considered. If more emphasis had been put on my mental wellbeing in the early days, I may not have become so unwell with postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis in the months that followed my son’s birth.
A great deal of expense could have been saved for the NHS, my family and my employer.
My health visitor did a great job of listening to me, but I put on ‘a show’ each time she came and pretended like everything was fine. It wasn’t. I kept telling her that neither my son nor I were sleeping well, and she said I was on the waiting list for the sleep clinic. But the appointment never came.
Perhaps a health visitor with dedicated perinatal mental health training would have seen behind the façade and been able to detect that all was not well.
What would have made the biggest difference?
My care could have been improved by better training in perinatal mental health for all the professionals involved in my care, particularly my midwife, health visitor and those working on the general psychiatric ward where I was admitted when my problems worsened.
Healthcare providers need to be made aware of the huge impact that having a baby can have on your mental health.
2. Coordinated care
For many women, what happened to them during the birth of their baby/babies and as a new mother can impact way beyond those early years and all healthcare professionals need to be aware of this. Better communication between all those involved in my care would have made such a difference. I was seen by a range of professionals, yet it appeared that they did not talk to each other about me.
Just maybe if they had joined the dots, I might not have become so unwell.
Women’s mental health deserves as much attention as their physical wellbeing during and after pregnancy. To achieve such parity, ALL women and families need equal access to a well-informed, connected and fully staffed workforce of maternal health professionals.
Read about new economic research which shows that increasing access to treatment for common maternal mental health problems could improve the lives of women and families and lead to an economic benefit of around half a billion pounds.
The MMHA would like to say a big thank you to Elaine for sharing her story, and for her ongoing support with our Everyone’s Business Campaign.