This blog is written by our clinicians and aims to keep patients informed with up to date information on medical conditions.
Maternal mental health issues can cause significant problems for new mothers and their babies. It’s important to understand why these issues develop, and what can be done to support mothers experiencing them.
With early recognition and the right support, maternal mental health issues can be treated.
What is perinatal mental health?
Perinatal mental health refers to mental health during pregnancy and the first year following birth. Perinatal mental health includes existing mental health problems, and problems that develop during the perinatal period.
How does the perinatal period affect mental health?
The perinatal period can be an exciting time, as you prepare to welcome your child into the world. Unfortunately it can also be a very complex time. Throughout the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period your body undergoes significant physical and physiological changes. On top of this, adjusting to life during pregnancy and as a mother brings a number of challenges. In some mothers, these changes and challenges can exacerbate or trigger mental health problems.
Depression which develops during pregnancy is called antenatal depression. Antenatal depression affects 1 in 10 expecting mothers.
Postpartum depression, often called postnatal depression is depression which starts in the first year after childbirth. Postpartum depression is common, affecting 1 in 8 mothers.
Many mothers feel a little low in mood for a short period of time following childbirth. These feelings are referred to as “baby blues” and are normal. But if your low mood persists for more than 2 weeks, it might be a sign of postpartum depression.
Anxiety disorders are common during pregnancy and following childbirth.
Other mental health problems
Pregnancy and childbirth can exacerbate existing mental health problems.
Why does perinatal mental health matter?
Mental health issues can dramatically affect a mother’s quality of life. On top of this, perinatal mental health issues can have negative effects on the baby. There is substantial evidence to show that anxiety and depression can lead to significant problems in children.1
Mothers who experience depression during pregnancy are significantly more likely to give birth to a “low weight” baby. We need more evidence to understand this link, but it’s clear that depression in some way alters the development of the foetus.1
Anxiety during pregnancy also leads to significant consequences on child development. Maternal anxiety during pregnancy increases the child’s risk of both physical and mental health problems as well as cognitive development.2
It has also been suggested that perinatal mental health problems may affect bonding. Higher levels of anxiety are linked to poorer bonding at 18 months post-birth.3 In terms of the link between depression and bonding, we need more studies to fully understand this relationship. One study showed that maternal depression led to poorer relationships between mothers and their babies.4 On the other hand, another study showed that there was no link between depression during pregnancy and poorer bonding.3
Health teams should focus on recognising the signs of perinatal mental health issues, and offering timely treatment. By offering the right support to mothers, we can reduce the impact of perinatal mental problems.
Support for perinatal mental health problems
The kind of support each mother needs will differ depending on their individual situation. Some mothers might just need a bit of friendly support and advice, whilst others may need more intensive clinical treatment. Your medical team will be able to suggest a tailored plan to help you manage your mental health.
To manage your mental health you might need:
- Medication to help manage your depression or anxiety symptoms
- Talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy
- Reassurance and advice from your medical team surrounding specific stresses relating to your pregnancy, your health, or the health of your baby
- Advice on where to find perinatal support groups
- General tips on how to maintain good mental health
At ROC Private Clinic, we make maternal mental health a priority when providing care to our expecting mothers. We take the time to get to know you, and regularly assess for signs of developing mental health problems. If you’re struggling with your mental health, our experienced clinicians can provide you with personalised treatment and support plans.
We know that pregnancy can be a stressful time. Our pregnancy care services can help give you peace of mind. Our GPs are accredited by the Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and our friendly sonographers are highly skilled in carrying out pregnancy scans. We’re with you every step of the way, to help keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.
To learn more, give our friendly team a call today at 01224 515 254.
- Dunkel Schetter C, Tanner L. Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012;25(2):141-148. doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283503680
- Shahhosseini Z, Pourasghar M, Khalilian A, Salehi F. A Review of the Effects of Anxiety During Pregnancy on Children’s Health. Mater Sociomed. 2015;27(3):200-202. doi:10.5455/msm.2015.27.200-202
- Brassel A, Townsend ML, Pickard JA, Grenyer BFS. Maternal perinatal mental health: Associations with bonding, mindfulness, and self-criticism at 18 months’ postpartum. Infant Ment Health J. 2020;41(1):69-81. doi:10.1002/imhj.21827
- Hayes LJ, Goodman SH, Carlson E. Maternal antenatal depression and infant disorganized attachment at 12 months. Attach Hum Dev. 2013;15(2):133-153. doi:10.1080/14616734.2013.743256
With the end of Summer and the sudden chill in the morning air, it is inevitable that our thoughts turn to Winter health needs, more specifically the flu!
So, let’s talk more about the flu or influenza, to give it its proper name.
What is the flu?
Influenza or the flu, (as we will call it) is an infectious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses that contaminate the nose, throat, and occasionally the lungs. Symptoms of flu can be mild to more serious and at times may be fatal.
How do I know I have the flu?
With the advent of Covid 19, and the general increase in cold cases during the chillier months, it can be confusing to know if you have the flu or something else.
Covid 19, the common cold and the flu are all caused by viruses which attack the respiratory system (the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs) and they all have similar symptoms. With the common cold, symptoms tend to be less severe than with the flu, however, Covid 19 and the flu do have comparable symptoms although, Covid 19 spreads more easily and it is more common for sufferers to have changes to their sense of taste and smell. The symptom table below gives you a simple breakdown of common symptoms associated with all three viral conditions (1):
How does the flu spread?
With the increase public health notifications and campaigns, more people are aware that the flu is infection and that it is spread from person to person. Typically, the flu is spread via airborne droplets, meaning that when someone is infected, they can pass on the flu to other’s when they cough, sneeze, or talk, even from as far away as six feet. An infected person can spread the flu up to a day before they feel unwell, and up to a week after they feel ill. Naturally, the young, the old and people who have lowered immunity (resistance) to disease will be more susceptible to contracting the flu and may be contagious longer.
What to do if you have the flu
We’ve all heard the old adage “Feed a cold, starve a fever” but this advice likely came about when people thought that only two types of illness existed, those which caused low temperature and those which cause high temperatures. Eating more food was encouraged to raise the body temperature and dispel the cold symptoms, while by starving, the temperature of the body would drop and the fever break. Now we have a better understanding of viruses and nutritional needs when we are unwell. Feeding a fever is now thought to be more important than feeding a cold, as symptoms of sweating, diarrhoea and vomiting increase loss of body fluids leading to dehydration. If tolerated hot soup and herbal drinks are good to keep mucous thin and helping remove unwanted substances from the nose and throat.
The most important thing is to stay hydrated, rest, keep comfortable and remain at home until recovered.
How do we protect ourselves?
We know that the flu is a contagious disease, spread through the population by contact with infected people. Protecting ourselves is key to stopping infection and the best way to do this is by getting
Getting vaccinated is the safest and most efficient form of protection against contracting the flu. Unfortunately, even when vaccinated, some people can still develop the flu, albeit that symptoms are likely to be milder and the duration of infection shorter. Vaccination can help reduce the spread of flu to vulnerable people; those likely to become seriously ill and who may have more complications if they contract the flu.
It is important to get immunised every year, this is due to the flu virus continually changing and a drop in immunity which happens naturally over time.
The vaccination will not give you the flu, but you may develop mild flu symptoms.
Vaccination for the worforce
Every year in the UK the winter season brings with it absence from work due to cold and flu related illness. In comparison to overall sickness absence rates, the flu accounts for a small percentage of workdays lost; however, this absence can be reduced by organising a vaccination programme for the workforce.
ROC Healthcare Services and your flu vaccination needs
At ROC Healthcare Services we aim to provide best practice and client healthcare whilst considering the requirements of your business. We pride ourselves on delivering exceptional, patient centred care and will help plan and deliver a flu vaccination service to meet your business needs. To discuss this or any other Occupational Health business requirements please contact: –
Westhill Business Park
Telephone: +44 01224 515 254
FAX: +44 01224 418 254
45 Queen Anne Street
Telephone: +44 0207 935 0606
FAX: +44 0207 935 06 07