Bonding Before Birth is theme of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week

Health / Wed 14th Jun 2023 at 09:05am

BONDING Before Birth is the theme of this year’s Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (12 to 18 June), which is organised by the Parent-Infant Foundation.

Sensitive, nurturing relationships between parents and their babies are fundamental to emotional attachment and infant mental health.

Early relationships shape their emotional and social development and these begin during pregnancy, when a baby’s brain is developing rapidly and can be influenced by the physical environment of the womb, as well as the wider environment and relationships.

For example, research by the University of Bath and University of Cape Town found domestic abuse against women in pregnancy can potentially impact how their unborn child’s brain develops.

Severe untreated anxiety or depression in pregnancy, and how a parent’s relationship with their baby is shaped by their own history, can also have an impact.

It can be hard for parents to admit when they are struggling to bond with their child, due to the strong expectations of how they ‘should’ be feeling.

Our Together with Baby service supports parents to better understand their baby’s emotional responses and communication, and strengthen their relationship with their child.

We support parents during pregnancy and until their child is two years old.

You do not need to speak to your GP or healthcare professional to be referred to the service. You can find out more on the Together with Baby service webpage.​

We also run one of the largest specialist community perinatal mental health services in the country, and it is one of the highest performing nationally for people accessing help.

Around 22,000 babies are born every year in Essex and more than 3,500 new mums were referred to us last year for support.

You can speak to any health or social care professional supporting you to ask if a referral to the community perinatal team may help you.  You can find out more on the Perinatal Mental Health Service Team webpage.

We also have our specialist Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit in Chelmsford, which provides mental health care and treatment for women during the late stages of pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of their baby.

Referrals are made by the health professional supporting you.

If you are a parent who would like to talk to someone about anything that’s troubling you, the Essex Peer to Parent Network also has a list of peer support groups in Essex.

Peer supporters are there to listen and talk about any worries, including if you feel unsupported, isolated, lonely or anxious, are concerned about financial or housing issues, or just feel like you’re not coping well. 

They can help parents emotionally and practically, both before your baby is born and afterwards.

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