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Mental health and parenthood


New mums and dads in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have contributed their personal stories to a new Healthwatch England report 'Mental health and the journey to parenthood'.

Mum and baby

The report - published this week – explores the experiences of women with mental health problems in pregnancy and during and after birth.

Around one in four women have mental health problems in pregnancy and in the first two years after birth. And more more opportunities are needed for new parents and health professionals to talk about mental health during the parenthood journey.

"We're really pleased to see this report it because a lot of maternity services users in our region have contributed to it and had a say," said Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CEO Sandie Smith.

"We recognise some of the issues raised as common to our local area, so we have shared the report with local health commissioners and providers as well as maternity voices partners so that we can make the most from the learning."

The report focuses on a survey of 1,738 women and draws on national research as well as work undertaken by eight local Healthwatch around the UK.

Many women said that mental ill health was triggered by a combination of issues including:
  • severe sickness in pregnancy
  • traumatic births
  • physical illness
  • history of mental health problems.

Other national findings showed

  • A third of women who had a diagnosed mental health condition said they were not given any advice about maternity and mental health at any point.· Nearly half of all women described getting support for their mental health as 'difficult' or 'very difficult'.
  • More than half of all women said they did not get a care plan that considered their maternity and mental health needs, while one in three reported not feeling involved in decisions about their care.
  • A third of all women rated the quality of mental health support given by health professionals such as GPs, midwives and health visitors as poor or very poor.

New Mum Kirsty said ...

"I fell into this feeling of failure. I've failed to breastfeed. I've failed to have a girl. I've failed to create the perfect family.

"I didn't recognise I was ill, I just thought I had failed, that the boys deserved a better mother, and I thought everything would be better once I was physically well. I was so ashamed to talk about how I was feeling, because we're told how lucky we are to have a baby.

"There needs to be more support for women who are pregnant and aren't well.

"I started feeling so miserable when I was pregnant because I couldn't enjoy it and no one understood. I didn't know what obstetric cholestasis was until I got it and if I'd been able to reach out and get some support, it might have made it easier."

Find out more

Download the Mental health and journey to parenthood report

Do you have an experience about mental health and becoming a new parent?

  • Talk to Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Help make your local NHS better for everyone in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by sharing your views with Healthwatch.
  • Call 0330 355 1285
  • Text 0752 0635 176
  • Email enquiries@healthwatchcambspboro.co.uk
  • Or feedback via our website