Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Pregnancy, birth and parenthood, or the loss of a baby, can all affect your emotional wellbeing. You might have existing mental health issues that seem to have gotten worse, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve struggled with your mental health. You might be feeling a bit low, or you might be experiencing much stronger feelings of depression, anxiety, trauma or other problems.
However you’re feeling, it’s so important to speak to someone about the difficulties you’re having, so that they can offer you help and support. You probably feel very alone, but it’s important to remember that many women struggle with their emotional wellbeing during and after pregnancy. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, and seeking help is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your family.
If you’re feeling low, there are lots of things you can do to help yourself. Some of these suggestions may seem obvious, but we know that lots of new mums often forget the importance of taking proper care of themselves. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” – taking care of yourself as best you can is so important. Here are some things you can try if you are struggling:
When to seek help
It’s completely normal to feel sad or anxious during pregnancy, after a loss, or as a new parent. We go through so many changes – physically and emotionally – during this time, it would be unusual if we didn’t struggle at times.
If you find that the feelings of sadness, anxiety or low mood aren’t going away or are affecting your ability to function as you would normally, it’s time to talk to someone about it.
There are lots of emotional and mental health issues that are more common during and after pregnancy (sometimes called the “perinatal period”). Wessex Healthier Together has lots of information on maternal mental health, with videos and specific information on various topics, including:
Who to talk to
If you’re struggling with your emotional wellbeing, it’s great to seek support from your friends and loved ones, but it’s also really important to speak to a professional. You can speak to your midwife, health visitor or your GP, whoever makes you feel most comfortable.
This can be daunting – lots of women feel embarrassed, find it hard to admit that they need help, or are worried about admitting that they are not coping. This is understandable but it’s important to remember that these problems are common, and the professional you speak to will have helped lots of women with similar problems. If you’d broken a bone, you would get an x-ray! It’s just as important to speak to someone when your mental health is suffering.
You can also self-refer to Steps 2 Wellbeing, who can offer you talking therapies which can be very useful. This might be enough to make you feel better, or you may need additional help, possibly medication or other support, so it’s best to also speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.
Support groups, in person and online, can also be really helpful when you are struggling. Here are some links to groups you might find useful:
Perinatal Mental Health Team
If your midwife, GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional feels like you need more specialist help, they might refer you to the Perinatal Mental Health Team. This service provides care and support for women experiencing severe mental health problems during pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth.
The multi-disciplinary team is made up of psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nursery nurses and a parent-infant psychotherapist. They provide assessments, treatment and support, all tailored to an individual patient’s needs. This is usually provided in a woman‘s own home where possible. However, there is also a mother and baby inpatient unit called Florence House, for those who need more care.