Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week: Having a baby brings a mixture of emotions

Health / Tue 30th Apr 2024 at 07:45am

HAVING a baby brings a mix of emotions and any parent can be affected by mental health challenges during their pregnancy or after their baby is born.

This year’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 29 April to Sunday 5 May) focuses on addressing myths about maternal mental health and highlighting how it is possible to recover from challenges.

If you are affected by maternal mental health issues, you are not alone and there is help available.

Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) runs a number of services to support parents, carers and families before, during and after pregnancy.

Our Together with Baby service (Essex Parent Infant Mental Health Service) supports parents to better understand their baby’s emotional responses and communication, and strengthen their relationship with their child.

Our clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and parent-infant therapists will meet with you to understand your needs andoffer a safe and non-judgemental space to help you understand and navigate the difficulties you may be facing.

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

We understand families come in different forms and accept referrals for all people who identify as a primary care-giver for the child. 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. The service was in contact with more than 4,000 people in the financial year 2023/24.

The team support people who are pregnant and are experiencing or are likely to experience mental health difficulties, and might benefit from specialist support. Where needed, they can help you and your family plan to have a safe, healthy pregnancy, and support you with your wellbeing and relationship with your baby. 

If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to have a baby and have a diagnosed mental illness or are on medication for your mental health, they can support you by providing advice and guidance about possible risks and treatment options.

You can speak to any health or social care professional supporting you to consider if a referral is needed. You can find out more on the Perinatal Mental Health Service Team webpage.

Our specialist Rainbow Mother and Baby Unit in Chelmsford provides inpatient mental health care and treatment for women during the late stages of pregnancy and up to one year after the birth of their baby.

The team also offer support to their families and carers and aim to help new parents develop strong relationships with their baby and support network.

Losing a baby is devastating and the By Your Side service was launched last year to offer therapeutic care and grief therapy to people who were pregnant and have experienced a perinatal loss.

The service is provided by EPUT in collaboration with midwifery colleagues and offers a compassionate and safe space for people who have lost a baby through miscarriage, still birth, neonatal death or a planned termination.

The team offer a mix of video consultations, telephone appointments, face-to-face assessments and treatment in perinatal hubs and home visits, based on your individual needs.

The service is currently available for people living in north west, mid, south east, and south west Essex. It will be expanded to north east Essex by June.

If you feel you would benefit from a referral, please speak to your midwife, GP, health visitor, social worker, mental health service or a support charity.

More information can be found on the By Your Side information page.

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