A MENTAL health service for pregnant women in Glasgow is seeing more than 200 new referrals every month.

The specialist perinatal mental health midwives are marking three years of the valuable service, run by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs until May 5, gets underway.

One in five women and one in 10 men can be affected by mental health difficulties during the perinatal period, which covers pregnancy and up to one year after giving birth, explains Stephanie Mair.

“While having a baby is an exciting time, it can be a challenging one as there is such a huge life transition, as well as all of the physical changes, potential worries about the woman’s health and baby’s health, and experiences of maternity care,” said Stephanie, who is one of the specialist midwives.

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“It is important for people to remember they are not alone and that support is available.”

Developing on from the existing clinical psychology service, the NHSGGC’s  Maternity and Neonatal Psychological Interventions (MNPI) service was expanded in April 2021.

It is a hospital-based team of clinical psychologists and specialist midwives who provide psychological support to families who have experienced a complex pregnancy, birth, neonatal complications or recurrent loss.

In addition, the Perinatal Mental Health Service (PMHS) is a specialist multidisciplinary team which provides care and treatment to women who are experiencing or at risk of significant mental health problems. It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Stephanie added: “Your maternity team, GP and health visitor will ask about your mental health at various times throughout your journey.

"It is important to talk honestly when asked and to not be afraid to ask for help if things are difficult.

“Your GP can discuss medication and make referrals to local support or mental health services. They can also support you to access computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) through a service called Silvercloud. They even have a perinatal specific course.”

There are things every pregnant woman can do to support their mental health, added Stephanie.

“We encourage you to prioritise your basic needs, like sleeping, eating and drinking regularly and looking after your personal care,” she said. 

"We understand this can be challenging during pregnancy and with a new baby but using support around you to help you with these can be beneficial for your emotional wellbeing.

“We would encourage you to be active, particularly spending some time outside if you can, whether that’s going for a gentle walk or continuing your existing fitness regime.”

There is further specialist support available to parents and their babies where there may be difficulties in the parent-infant relationship, such as infant mental health service Wee Minds Matter.

If anyone is concerned about their mental health, or the health of someone close to them, they are urged to speak to a midwife, GP or health visitor or contact NHS24 on 111. In an emergency, call 999.