Mum holding young baby and looking down at her face

COVID-19 information and support from Maternal Mental Health Alliance members

New MMHA guidance on COVID-19 and maternal mental health now available >

Last updated: 12/05/2020 at 10:57

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

For health professionals

Mental health

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.

Maternity

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.

Birth Companions, with support from Consultant Midwife Tamsin Bicknell, have produced guidance for midwives about supporting women facing multiple disadvantage during COVID-19.

Primary care and health visiting

The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) is closely following the advice and reports of the UK Government to keep health visitors up-to-date.


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 helpful FAQs about coronavirus and rights during pregnancy.

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.