The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK have said that there needs to be more mental health care for women at risk of mental health problems before, during, and after pregnancy.
Concern was sparked by the recent harrowing case of a new mother in Bristol walking out of the hospital into the freezing night with her new-born baby wrapped in only a blanket, resulting in the two being found dead a few days later.
Between 10 and 20 percent of women are thought to experience some form of mental health crisis during pregnancy, or within the first year of their baby’s life.
In almost half of the UK, it is reported that there is no specialist mental health services available to help women during their pregnancy.
Furthermore, research from the National Childbirth Trust have found that only 3 percent of Clinical Commissioning Groups in England have a strategy in place for commissioning mental health services for pregnant women, and the majority have no plans to develop one.
Pregnancy can be a very high stress time for women, not only do they have to go through the physiological ordeal of pregnancy and birth, but they can also become anxious over whether they will be able to look after the baby sufficiently.
Of course, all mental health is important, but a special emphasis should be put on maternal mental health, because it can have such a lasting impact on not only the mother, but also the baby.
Mindfulness courses carried out alongside maternity classes, for example, could help mothers to relax, let go of their stress, and deal with any anxious thoughts they have.
Mental health care across the country is underfunded and inefficient, but hopefully with institutes like NICE demanding steps forward, the system will improve and become more supportive of everyone.