Mental Health

Mental health and wellbeing

There is more to being healthy then being physically well. How you think, feel and the way you see yourself can all influence your wellbeing.

A full list of help line numbers are at the bottom of this page.

Pregnancy is a time of great change and it is normal to feel many different emotions

Your body is changing, your life is changing and alongside this your feelings and the way you see the world can change too.

Because you are going through a time of so many changes, it is important to make sure you are looking after your physical and mental health to help you to cope with and enjoy becoming a mum or dad.

Mental health support

At South Tees we have the Perinatal Mental Health Team to support women currently experiencing or who have a history of mental health problems including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, severe depression or any other condition severely affecting your life.

With the team you can develop a “Mental Health Birth Plan” to help acknowledge signs of returning poor mental health, describe any changes needed in your medications, identify how long you should stay in hospital after you have had your baby and plan care for once you have gone home.

What care can I expect?

Your community midwife will ask about your mental health and wellbeing at your first appointment. It is important you are honest so that you can work together to monitor your mood throughout your pregnancy.

  • Your midwife will ask about your mood and feelings throughout your pregnancy
  • If you are feeling down, depressed or hopeless your midwife will direct you to an IAPT service and refer you to speak to your GP about this
  • You can also seek support from the IAPT service helplines without speaking to a midwife or your GP. See the table at the bottom of this page for contact details and ring today if you need support
  • If needed your GP can refer you to the Perinatal Mental Health Team to talk more about your mood and wellbeing and develop a mental health birth plan

Staying happy and healthy during pregnancy

There are lots of ways you can look after your mental health, mood and wellbeing during pregnancy.

  • Take time out to look after you – run a bath, watch a film, read a book
  • Stay active – exercise releases natural happy hormones to keep you feeling good
  • Join an aquanatal group to get active and meet other mums-to-be
  • Eat well and drink plenty of water – if you feel physically fit this causes less mental and emotional strain
  • Think about complementary therapies – aromatherapy, massage and relaxation can support you to feel great during pregnancy and beyond
  • If you feel down, depressed or hopeless, or have little interest or pleasure in doing things then please speak to your midwife or GP as soon as you can
  • Talk to your friends and family, and tell them how you are feeling
  • Visit the Talking About Birth clinic if you are worried about labour and birth or have worries because of a previous labour and birth (your community midwife can refer you)
  • If you take anti-depressants or other medication prescribed to support your mood or mental health continue to take these unless you have made a plan with your doctor of how to cope without this medication and how to get help if your symptoms of low mood or mental ill-health return

Take steps towards keeping you feeling healthy and happy

Mental health issues cover a broad range from stress and anxiety to mild, moderate and severe forms of depression

Mental Health problems are very common with one in four people having one or more episodes within their lifetime and one in five women experiencing an episode during or following pregnancy/birth.

Problems like depression, anxiety, stress, panicking, nervousness, isolation and loss of sleep make it hard for us to cope with our daily life.

It is really important that you have good mental health and well-being in pregnancy and after you have had your baby.  This will help you to feel confident, cope with daily life and build up a relationship with your baby.

If you feel you’re experiencing a problem with your mental wellbeing don’t ‘bottle it up’! The sooner you take steps and seek support and advice, the sooner you will recover.

One in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem.

One in five women will experience a mental health episode during pregnancy or after birth

Everyone has times of stress and low mood, but to stay mentally well it is important to talk about the way you are feeling

You can talk to your friends, family, midwife or GP about how you are feeling. There is help and support available so please do not be afraid to be honest about your mood and what you are thinking about.

The improving access to psychological therapy (IAPT) service can also help. This is a team of qualified, experienced professionals and counsellors specially chosen to work alongside your local GP to help people experiencing:

  • Low mood and/or depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and guilt
  • Loss of interest and pleasure
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

To access the IAPT service you can speak to your GP or ring directly yourself. There are telephone numbers at the bottom of this page to help you access IAPT services today.

You can also learn more about mental health and pregnancy by visiting the NHS Choices website. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have also created a website for mums-to-be about mental health.

Mild depression, anxiety or stress can affect anyone

When you worry about money, your house, your relationship or anything else this can really impact on your life and may release hormones that can also impact on your baby.

Cortisol is a hormone now known to be linked with having a small baby and even behavioural problems in childhood. Your cortisol levels increase when you are stressed or anxious.

Anxiety or mood changes can also lead to further mental health problems now or in the future. This can influence how you bond with your baby, as well as causing difficulties in your family relationships or with your friends.

Taking steps to improve your mood and relieve anxiety is a positive move towards keeping you and your baby healthy. You can see your GP or use the contact numbers at the bottom of this page to seek help.


If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition tell your midwife

If you share information about your mental health condition your midwife can help you to stay healthy and well throughout your pregnancy. Being open and honest about how you feel can help you to recognise when things are getting hard and if you need more help and support.

If you are taking prescribed medication for a mental health condition then please do not stop taking these unless you have discussed a plan of care with your doctor. Some medications can be taken throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Stopping medications is strongly linked with a return of the symptoms you felt when you were unwell.

Ignoring your mood and negative thoughts wont make your problems go away

Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is very common after women have had babies. Far too often new mothers suffer in silence because this issue is not recognised.

Postnatal depression can happen any time in the year after you have had your baby and can range from being very mild to being hard hitting. Signs include:

  • Feeling very low, thinking life is no good and there is no hope
  • Feeling tired and having low energy, feeling numb and not having interest in the outside world
  • Feeling unable to cope
  • Feeling guilty about not coping or not loving your baby enough
  • Wanting to cry
  • Being irritable
  • Losing your appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Losing interest in sex
  • Having panic attacks
  • Overpowering anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Fears about your baby’s health, or yourself, or another family member
  • Thoughts about death

If you think you or someone you know is affected by these symptoms please seek advice from your GP or urge them to see their own doctor. Postnatal depression is easier to treat if it is noticed early and if it isn’t addressed it will last longer and be more severe.

Use the contact information in this table to get help today

You can ring any of the numbers below to get access to a team of qualified, experienced professionals and counsellors specially chosen to work with you.

Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind (a registered local charity that provides confidential services for people experiencing emotional or mental health problems and their families)

01642 257202 (Middlesbrough)

01642 493838 (Redcar & Cleveland)

01642 796630 (Stockton)

Alliance Psychological Services Ltd (psychological therapy service in Teesside and the North East) 01642 352747
Insight (non-for-profit organisation providing a talking therapies service) 0300 555 0555
Starfish Health and Wellbeing (an emotional wellbeing service in Teesside) 01642 345212
Talking Changes (offers a range of talking therapies for those aged 16+ living in Durham and Darlington) 0191 374 0044 (North Durham)
01388 646 831 (South Durham or Darlington)

You can also ring these services:

Samaritans

(confidential and non-judgemental support whenever you need someone to talk to)

Freephone

116 123

Sane Line

(out of hours telephone line offering practical information, crisis care and emotional support)

(1630h – 2230h)

0300 3047000

Cruse Bereavement

(a free service for adults, children and young people over 4 years old suffering from grief)

Middlesbrough

01642 210284

Guisborough

01287 610734

 


This page has been created using information from NHS ChoicesNHS Choices Logo