Perinatal Mental Health Services: What are they?


Perinatal Care- During pregnancy and after our kid is born, most of us expect to feel happy, excited, and positive. However, this isn’t always the case. During pregnancy and after birth, you can experience a wide range of emotions. Love, pride, and joy are examples, as are concern, grief, and impatience. It’s common to feel stressed or anxious throughout pregnancy – or after the birth of a child. These feelings are very normal.

Up to one in every five women experiences mental health issues during pregnancy or after giving delivery.

Some of these are mild, and some are more severe. You may:

  • You already have a mental disease.
  • Sorry if you’ve had similar issues in the past; this may increase your chances of being ill throughout your pregnancy or after delivery. However, with the correct assistance, this may frequently be avoided.
  • Develop a mental health issue for the first time during or after pregnancy.

However, excellent counselling and support are available if you are at risk for mental health difficulties during pregnancy or the first year after birth.

What is a perinatal mental health service?

It is a perinatal care service for any woman suffering from mental illness who is contemplating pregnancy, is pregnant, or has a child under the age of one year. These services are designed to: 

  • Assist you in staying as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is delivered.
  • Ascertain that you, your family, and other experts are aware of the signs and symptoms of illness as soon as feasible.
  • Give you and your family the greatest available perinatal care, treatment, assistance, and support.
  • Assist you in enjoying your pregnancy and gaining confidence as a mother.
  • Ascertain that you, your partner, and your family have access to the information and support they require on mental health issues and treatments.

Does everybody need a perinatal mental health service?

A perinatal mental health provider usually cares for someone with a more significant or complex mental health problem. So, sure, not every pregnant lady or new mother who has a mental health problem will require this assistance. However, your GP can provide excellent perinatal care for mild to severe mental health concerns during pregnancy and after birth. If your GP’s aid is insufficient, they can refer you to a perinatal mental health clinic.

Even if you’re already attending a community mental health team, a perinatal service should be referred to you for expert guidance and support. You, your family, and any other experts engaged can collaborate with the teams.

You may need to go to the hospital if you have a more serious mental health problem. This should generally be a psychiatric Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) where both you and your baby can be admitted. MBU accept women in their late stages of pregnancy and for up to a year after giving delivery. An MBU can help your perinatal care for your infant and acquire confidence as a mother while also allowing you to receive the treatment you require. Your perinatal mental health service will have connections with the nearest MBU, so if you need it, your perinatal psychiatrist or nurse can arrange admission. They’ll stay in touch with you while you’re in the hospital and assist you with discharge planning. They will continue to see you after you leave the hospital.

Why could a perinatal mental health service help me?

  • If you have or have had a major mental illness (such as Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or another psychotic condition) and wish to get pregnant, you might find it helpful.
  • If you have Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or another psychotic illness and are pregnant, you may be more likely to have a mental health problem throughout your pregnancy.
  • You were treated in a mental health facility for another major mental health issue, such as severe depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Bipolar Disorder or Postpartum Psychosis run in your family. Unfortunately, this can make you more vulnerable to Postpartum Psychosis.
  • Your doctor’s treatment is ineffective.

What help might I get from a perinatal mental health service?

  • Expert assistance with a wide range of mental health issues. This includes Advice on ways to lower your chance of getting a mental health condition during pregnancy or the postpartum period.
  • Assisting you in weighing the risks and advantages of taking medicine while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Treatments for psychological issues (talking therapies).
  • These differ considerably; some include both group and individual therapy. For example, talking therapy can examine your pastor teach you how to deal with a current issue. In addition, it can assist you in finding new ways to deal with your symptoms. Finally, to aid bonding, some services provide “parent-infant” treatments.
  • Support and Advice to help you develop a strong bond with your baby and a sense of self-assurance as a mother.
  • They’ll collaborate with midwives, health visitors, adult mental health teams, and general practitioners.
  • Other services that provide practical help and support for families will be referred to you. This could be a local charity or volunteer organisation.
  • Assisting you in making plans for your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.
  • Give your partner and other family members guidance and information about mental health issues. They’ll want to know about your disease, your risk of becoming ill, and how they can best help you today.
  • Making arrangements for admittance to a Mother and Baby Unit.
  • Assisting anyone who has been discharged from a mother and Baby Unit.
  • Educating and guiding GPs, midwives, and other perinatal care providers so that they can provide better perinatal care.

Where can I meet a perinatal mental health service?

Most perinatal care services try to see women in places that are convenient and child-friendly. These are some of them: 

  • Clinics for perinatal care.
  • Health Centres for Children
  • Your residence
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology wards

Who can refer you to the perinatal mental health service?

Any expert involved in your treatment can usually refer you, such as

  • Obstetrician
  • Psychiatrist
  • GP
  • Midwife
  • Health Visitor

 Who is in the team?

You’ll almost certainly meet one or more of the following:

  • A perinatal psychiatrist is a psychiatric practitioner who will be in charge of your treatment. They can talk to you about your diagnosis, suggest treatments, and explain the risks of becoming ill during pregnancy or after delivery. They can assist you in deciding whether or not to use mental medication during pregnancy or during breastfeeding. They may also be able to help you with the usage of talking therapies.
  • Nurses that specialise in caring for women throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period are known as specialist perinatal mental health nurses. They can assist you in recognising indicators of mental illness. They can show you how to deal with any symptoms or concerns you may be experiencing. They can also help you in strengthening your bond with your child and gaining confidence in yourself.
  • Psychologist – can help with short-term psychological issues (talking therapies). These mainly focus on the relationship between your mental health and pregnancy/parenthood. They can assist you in figuring out how to deal with your problems. They can also inform you about long-term talking therapies that may be beneficial and recommend you to services that provide them.
  • Other professions – some services have a staff of other professionals. Occupational therapists and nursery nurses are two examples. They can offer you emotional and practical support as your perinatal care for your baby and manage your life as a parent.

Several different professionals may be engaged in your prenatal and postpartum treatment. Typical examples include 

  • Obstetricians and midwives.
  • GPs and health visitors

All of the experts engaged in your treatment will work closely with a perinatal mental health service. It will enable everyone to work together to provide the best possible perinatal care for you and your family. This also implies that specialists will be able to respond swiftly to any issues that arise. Before sharing any information among professionals, you should be asked for your permission (or consent).

It is necessary to explain why something is being done. However, if a professional has concerns about your safety or the safety of others (including your infant or other children), they must report them to the appropriate authorities. If something is going to happen, you should always be informed.


About Author

Garima Capoor is a doctor of medicine by profession, who stumbled her way into content writing, much to her parents' bemusement. Research is her favourite word and she uses it generously while trying to understand the fascinating dynamics of parents and children. With no children of her own, her niece and nephew are the guinea pigs for everything she learns (the family dog was off limits).

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