Perinatal mental health

Good mental health - important for mother, baby and the whole family

Being pregnant, or having a baby, is a really big change to your life. Whilst having a baby is really exciting, some women can’t help feeling down and anxious when they are pregnant, or after the baby is born. Feeling sad, worried or depressed is common. One in five women can feel this way. It can be difficult to tell people if you’re feeling anxious or upset.

It’s okay to feel tearful or sad sometimes, but if you are feeling like this most days, and these feelings don’t seem to be getting better or going away, it’s important to tell your midwife, health visitor or GP as soon as possible.

There are a range of things that can be done to help you, your baby and your family. This may be someone to talk to about how you feel, or a group with other mothers who feel the same. Don’t feel guilty about getting help. Remember to look after yourself, as your health is just as important as your baby’s.

  • Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Were you separated from your baby?
  • Do you constantly feel exhausted?
  • Did you have a difficult birth?
  • Do you feel unsupported or afraid?
  • Is your baby irritable?
  • Do you ever feel your baby doesn't like you or you don't like your baby?

In the UK, mental illness in pregnant and postnatal women often goes unrecognised, undiagnosed and untreated.

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby. If untreated, these perinatal mental illnesses can have a devastating impact on the women affected and their families. 

A film of parents experiences in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly has been produced to increase awareness of these issues so that women, their partners and families know that there is help and support available and how to access it. The film can be viewed here: 

We are extremely grateful to the contributors to this film and their willingness to share their stories to help others. 

Help is available if you are concerned about yourself or your partner, please speak to your health visitor or GP.