How you can help give babies a Fair StartPublished on
Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby can be a time of great joy, but nobody said it was easy. And for some parents, it can be extremely difficult. In the UK, around 20% of mums and 10% of dads face mental health problems during and after pregnancy.
In some places, parents are able to get the help they need. In others – because of a lack of services, funding, training or staff – they can't.
Our partner, the NSPCC, is campaigning across the UK for proper mental health support for every family.
In the first of two blogs on perinatal mental health, we find out more about the NSPCC’s crucial campaign.
Pura: What is perinatal mental health?
NSPCC: The perinatal period is that crucial time – during pregnancy and after birth – when parents are finding their feet and building bonds with their baby. Mums and Dads can experience perinatal mental health problems, including antenatal and postnatal depression, anxiety, perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), postpartum psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These illnesses can be mild, moderate or severe, requiring different kinds of care or treatment
Pura: Who does it affect?
NSPCC: We know that up to one in five mums and one in 10 dads experience perinatal mental health problems. The impact of having a baby can aggravate existing mental health problems, but they can affect any parent without any prior signs. Also, a parent could have experienced no issues with their first born child, but then experience mental health issues with their subsequent child(ren).
Pura: What vital support are people missing out on?
NSPCC: It can totally depend on where you live in the UK. Some of the support that could be missed includes:
• Getting a diagnosis in the first place
• Support with mental health problems
• Lack of specialist support for more complex, severe issues
• In some parts of the UK there are no mother and baby units, meaning that mothers who need inpatient psychiatric support either have to attend units far away from home and their family, or be separated from their baby at a key time
Pura: How has the Covid 19 pandemic worsened the situation?
NSPCC: The pandemic has been an anxious time for everyone, but for new and expectant parents it can pose additional challenges due to uncertainty surrounding lockdown and social isolation. Separation from family is causing heightened anxieties and pressure on parents. The pandemic may have an additional impact on some parents being able to access health professionals.
Pura: How can signing the petition help?
NSPCC: By taking action to support the Fight for a Fair Start campaign, it helps us to put pressure on governments across the UK to ensure that all parents can access the support they need, at the right time, wherever they live. We’re calling on all of the UK’s governments to ensure:
• Parents who need support are recognised early
• Parents are given the support they need at the right time
• Parents are supported to build bonds with their baby through services like mother-infant attachment
• Governments across the UK recognise the need for funding for perinatal mental health services
Next we hear from Natalie, a mum of three who suffered from postnatal depression twice before finally getting help. Click here to read the blog post.
If you would like to support the NSPCC’s Fight for a Fair Start campaign, click here.
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