Postnatal and Perinatal Mental Health

What are perinatal mental health problems? Pregnancy and birth are major life events for women as well as the father and family. It is expected that there will be a range of emotions and hormone-driven mood fluctuations. However, a perinatal mental health problem is one that is experienced at any point from becoming pregnant and up to a year after the birth. Common problems include:

  • Perinatal depression
  • Perinatal anxiety
  • Perinatal OCD
  • Postpartum psychosis
  • Postpartum PTSD

Postnatal or postpartum describes the period after giving birth and is included in the over-arching term perinatal depression.

One in five women will experience a perinatal mental health problem which can have far-reaching effects on maternal and child outcomes. The National Institute for Health Research (April 2019) also suggests it is ‘likely to be even higher for women from ethnic minorities.’ One of their key findings was the impact of cultural beliefs on how symptoms are interpreted. Fear and stigma of the ability to properly parent are additional barriers and creates difficulty for women to know when to seek help.

A large survey found that white women were more likely to be offered treatment than Black or Asian women. The NICE guidance on pregnancy and complex social factors (2010) recommends support for women who are recent migrants, asylum seekers or refugees or who have difficulty reading or speaking English.

If you think you have a problem with postnatal depression or any other perinatal condition contact IRIE Mind or Talk Changes by clicking the links or your GP can refer you to Tavistock and Portman.

Where else can you get support for perinatal mental health problems?