01 May 2020

Support for pregnant women and new mums during Coronavirus outbreak

Maternal 1

Pregnancy and motherhood can be worrying times for women and their families, without the added concerns of a global pandemic.

So this Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 4th to Sunday 10th May) Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is reminding pregnant women, new mothers and their families who may be concerned about Coronavirus, and the impact on their mental health, to seek help if they are worried.

During the pandemic AWP's specialist community perinatal mental health services and the mother and baby inpatient unit are continuing to operate, with staff providing support to pregnant women with mental health conditions, new mums and their families via telephone, video-conferencing and, where appropriate, in person.

The services, which operate across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire, (BSW) and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG), also provide advice and guidance for all health professionals to discuss cases, referral queries, medication advice in pregnancy and breastfeeding and signposting to other services.

Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Ajay Bhatt, said: "We know that pregnancy can be a worrying time for many women and their families and with the extra anxieties that the Coronavirus pandemic is creating, we want to make sure we support those who have a pre-existing mental health issue or develop difficulties as a result of their pregnancy or after giving birth. We will provide support using telephone and video conferencing where appropriate and for more urgent cases we will assess someone face-to-face.

"This year the theme for Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is 'supporting mums during difficult times' and so we're encouraging pregnant women and new mums, their partners and their families to look out for the signs of mental-ill health and seek help and support if needed.

"We offer a number of services to support mothers, infants and their wider family at what is an incredibly important and precious time in their lives. By intervening early, providing specialist advice, interventions and education, we hope to facilitate recovery, promote well-being and attachment between mothers and their babies, to raise awareness and to reduce the impact of mental health conditions on the next generation."

Advice for mothers and pregnant women:

• If you're worried about your mental health, you can talk to your midwife, GP or health visitor
• Don't be afraid to tell your midwife or health visitor how you feel as this can help them identify if you are unwell or likely to become unwell
• Symptoms that might indicate you have post-natal depression include feeling sad and hopeless, negative thoughts about yourself, not sleeping well or too much sleep, a lack of interest or pleasure in doing things or being with people and loss of appetite
• If you have had a previous mental health illness, your midwife or doctor can assist you with developing a care plan and you may be referred to the perinatal mental health team
• Postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth and affects around one in ten new mothers
• Feeling tearful and anxious in the first few days after giving birth is common and is often called 'baby blues.' If symptoms last longer than two weeks, it is best to seek professional advice as the earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the quicker you will recover
Dr Bhatt continued: "We'd also like to reach out to partners, dads-to-be and family members to look out for the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health so that they can support their loved ones during this time. Pregnancy and the first year after having a baby should be a special time for all family members, so it is important that mothers and pregnant women feel supported and can access the help they need."

Information about the community services and how to access support from a number of organisations is available here and details about the mother and baby unit can be found here


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