Support is being offered to women and families across the region to help with their mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy and after the birth of a child.
Humber Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership’s specialist perinatal mental health team, covering Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, and North East Lincolnshire, is re-launching the Every Mum Matters campaign which offers guidance and signposting for further help.
The campaign aims to support new and expectant mums and their families to be able to recognise symptoms of perinatal mental health problems early and encourage them to seek help quickly.
Perinatal mental health issues (those which occur during pregnancy or during the baby’s first year) affect one-in-five women, but with the right support and interventions many issues are treatable. Recognising the signs early and seeking support quickly improves recovery and outcomes for mums and their babies.
The campaign recognises that having a baby is a major life event for mums and partners and it is common to experience a range of emotions during and after pregnancy. Health professionals say that when feelings start to have an impact on day-to-day life, it is time to talk to someone.
The Every Mum Matters website aims to raise awareness of perinatal mental health problems, start conversations, reduce stigma and encourage women to come forward to get help.
Emma Tomlinson, Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Nurse said: “The campaign focuses on supporting and empowering expectant and new mums to recognise and to seek support for their mental health within this perinatal period.
We aim to support women who are experiencing difficulties with their mental health in pregnancy and post-birth. It can be a scary time for mums and can evoke anxiety and impact on mood. If this is recognised early on, support can be put into place to help towards a successful recovery.”
Covid-19 has also had a significant impact on pregnant women and new mums, who have dealt with changes to maternity services, reduced face-to-face appointments and a decrease in family support due to restrictions and lockdowns.
The specialist perinatal mental health team have seen an increase in referrals for women who are experiencing high levels of anxiety as a direct result of these measures, as well as heightened fears of having to birth without their partner being present.
The service quickly recognised the importance of being able to continue to provide face to face support and interventions for the women accessing the service, as the quality of patient care would have been adversely affected by offering only virtual appointments. This has enabled the team to continue to offer high level care resulting in positive outcomes for many women and families such as these:
Kayleigh Abbott, aged 34, from Hull received help from the perinatal team at Hull:
“After becoming extremely ill with excessive nausea and vomiting, known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and undergoing a significant change in my personal life, my mental health started to rapidly decline. Eventually at an appointment around 30 weeks and with a push from family, I requested a referral.
I was referred to Hull Perinatal services, within days I had a telephone appointment with a doctor and my care coordinator Fiona was liaising with my family about medication and wrap around support was put in place.
I was supported throughout the birth and after, including working with the team nursery nurse to help with bonding and also receiving therapy to help me process some of the trauma I experienced.
I really appreciated was that everything was led by me, with the team encouraging me to accept the support. My mental health is so much better, I have everything I learned from the team and I can access the support whenever I need to. It has allowed me to become the mum I want to be.”
Anne-Marie Sambrook, aged 36, from Brough also received support from the perinatal mental health team too:
“Early in my pregnancy with my second son I began to struggle with my mental health. I had extreme morning sickness, Covid-19 was a big worry, and I began to have low moods and suffer extreme anxiety. I decided to self-refer to get support.
I was referred very quickly to the Perinatal team and had an initial face-to-face appointment with my care co-ordinator within a month. I had both video appointments and home visits, which was a massive help during the COVID-19 situation.
We worked closely with my midwife to put a robust birth plan in place, it was done in such a way that I felt in control and supported in theatre and after on the ward. It made the experience so much calmer, which made it a lovely experience for me and my partner.
During my care I also received appointments with a doctor to discuss medications, started working with an occupational therapist to focus on how to deal with stressful times or difficulties.
I also received help with my physical issues as I struggle with pain due to having Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, I was able to receive some home adaptions and learnt techniques to help with breastfeeding and using a baby carrier safely.
My care with the perinatal team has been absolutely outstanding and I’m just so glad that I reached out for help as I finally feel like the old me and am able to enjoy being a mum of two!”
The specialist perinatal mental health team encourages pregnant women and new mums struggling with their mental health during this time, to speak to their midwife, health visitor, GP or other professional involved in their care who can refer them to the most appropriate service.
Jane Matfin, a Specialist Perinatal Mental Health Nurse and Clinical Lead said:
“Working in the Perinatal Team feels like I’m doing really important and meaningful work. It is satisfying to be able work so collaboratively with our women and their families and a privilege to be part of someone’s life at such a significant time for them. We know we can, and do, make a difference.
“I feel like the special role we have with our women means we develop excellent therapeutic relationships. The strength shown by women we care for, even when they are really struggling, is amazing and we get to support that.”
A video has been created featured women affected by mental health issues during and after pregnancy at https://youtu.be/58GkOU7boVM
Visit the Every Mum Matters website for more information, support, and advice.