Having mental health problems

Most people are surprised to hear how common mental health problem are in pregnancy and after having a baby.

It is thought that 10-15 women in every 100 will suffer from depression following childbirth. Many more women report feelings of anxiety and depression antenatally - anything from 10-25 in 100.

What do we mean by mental health problems?

Pregnancy can be an anxious time for most mothers to be. It may be that your midwife or doctor, when they first saw you in pregnancy, asked the following questions:

  • During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by having   little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  • During the last month, have you been feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?
  • During the past month, have you not been able to stop or control worrying?

Many women will feel this at some point in their pregnancy and it’s good to talk these feelings over with someone whom you trust and feel comfortable with.

But what happens if this does not help and the feelings get worse?

You may need more specialist help if you are experiencing some of the following:

During Pregnancy

  • Are you extremely anxious about your pregnancy and really dreading giving birth, especially about having or not being able to have a caesarean section?
  • Do you fear for your baby’s health and life during your pregnancy or shortly after giving birth?
  • Have you suffered with depression or postnatal illness before? Did you have symptoms of depression or anxiety during this pregnancy or a previous pregnancy.
  • Have you found that you are increasingly trying to avoid certain situations in order to help you and your baby feel safe? This might involve carrying out some rituals such as washing your hands or counting to check that you have carried out tasks you normally do without much thought?

Postnatally

  • Do you feel you are a ’bad’ person or a ’bad ‘mother rather than thinking you have a kind of illness?
  • Do you have horrible and distressing thoughts about yourself and your baby? E.g. visualising terrible things happening to your baby, caused by you?
  • Are you worrying a lot about your baby’s health and welfare?
  • Do you have fast moving thoughts which don’t go away, especially when you try to sleep?
  • Do you have thoughts you feel you could never tell anyone about?
  • Do you think about knives and other dangerous objects?
  • Are you unable to enjoy your life, have you lost your sense of humour since having the baby?
  • Have you felt ‘not right in yourself’ since the birth of your baby and find you are hiding from others how you really feel?

Possible Birth Trauma

  • Did you whilst pregnant have severe anxiety or extreme fear about a possible caesarean section?
  • Does your mind keep playing the birth over and over?
  • Do you avoid talking about the birth or birth stories?
  • Do you feel preoccupied about how you were treated at the birth?
  • When you think about or are reminded of your birth experience, does your heart race or do you become anxious?
  • Do feel so angry about how you were treated, that you fantasise about shouting at or hurting the staff who delivered your baby?
  • Did you feel numb after having your baby (like he/she wasn’t really yours) and has this numbness not gone away?
  • Do your memories of the birth come and go in your mind quickly and repeatedly?

There are people available to help

You can:

  1. Contact your doctor at your local surgery
  2. Telephone: 0300 555 5555
  3. Email: kent@insighthealthcare.org

These services are free and you can refer yourself.  

Here are a few websites that may help:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk

http://www.mind.org.uk

http://www.forparentsbyparents.co.uk

http://www.pni-uk.com

The specialist midwife medwayft.mentalhealthmidwives@nhs.net or ask your midwife to let her know you want an appointment

If it is an emergency contact the crisis team on 01634 830000 ext 3095