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Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Adults Mental Health Support

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Pregnancy and Mental Health

Happy baby on a bed

While many people are aware that you can become depressed after having a baby, it's less well known that many women and men experience anxiety during and after pregnancy. In fact, it's common to experience depression and anxiety together.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health challenges during pregnancy, many women and men will experience both. Depression and anxiety also affect 15-20% of women in the first year after childbirth. During pregnancy and the postnatal period, anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Tokophobia (an extreme fear of childbirth), can occur on their own or can coexist with depression.

Perinatal anxiety and depression are mental health challenges experienced during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth. You might hear it called:

  • Perinatal or antenatal anxiety and/or depression if you experience anxiety during pregnancy.
  • Postnatal anxiety and/or depression if you experience it after giving birth.

Perinatal mental health challenges are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental challenges affects 12-20% of women, and covers a wide range of conditions. Me can also suffer with Peri/Postnatal depression and anxiety. If left untreated, it can have significant and long lasting effects on the person and their family. Perinatal mental health challenges can also have long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

Formed Films have a video called 'Perinatal Positivity' and another called 'A Black Cloud' which have the aim of encouraging parents-to-be to prepare for and think about looking after their mental health through pregnancy, birth and beyond and to raise awareness of birth related trauma, and to give people comfort that they are not alone.

Trigger Warning: The below videos contain sensitive content.

'Perinatal Positivity'

'A Black Cloud'

Different types of depression and anxiety that can happen during and post-pregnancy +

  • Postpartum ‘blues’: (affecting 60-80% of all new mothers) is often expressed as frequent and prolonged crying, anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, quick mood changes and a sense of vulnerability. It usually occurs within the first three days following birth, continues for up to two weeks and is usually self-limiting.

  • Postpartum depression & anxiety: (affecting 15-20% of all new mothers) is more debilitating and longer lasting than the ‘blues’ and is characterized by despondency, tearfulness and more intense feelings of inadequacy, guilt, anxiety and fatigue. There may also be physical symptoms such as headaches and rapid heart rate. A lack of feeling for the baby is of special concern. These feelings can appear any time during the first few months to one year after the birth. Unfortunately, women experiencing this form of depression rarely seek treatment although almost all respond well.

  • Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth: is usually triggered by trauma during the time leading up to, during delivery or shortly afterwards. It can effect up to 6% of mothers. The trauma leads the women feeling that either her life or the life of her baby is at risk.

  • Postpartum psychosis:(found in 0.1% of new mothers) is a serious, but relatively rare disorder, with reactions such as extreme confusion, refusal to eat, delusions, auditory hallucinations, hyperactivity and rapid or irrational speech. Most of these reactions occur within 3-14 days following the birth. Psychosis is serious and requires immediate medical attention and at times medication and hospitalization.

How do I know if I have perinatal or postnatal depression or anxiety? +

A mother may:

  • Feel constantly tired
  • Cry often for no apparent reason
  • Feel panicky
  • Worry excessively about her own or the baby’s health
  • Have a lack of feeling for the baby
  • Have difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Have problems concentrating
  • Have frightening thoughts or fantasies
  • Feel an overwhelming sense of loss

What are the treatments? +

Mother and toddler sat playing

There are a range of treatment options for depression and anxiety, any of which you might find useful to treat perinatal and postnatal anxiety and/or depression.

  • Talking treatments. You're likely to be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or your local mental health services may run specific counselling or group programmes for anxiety. You can speak to your doctor, or contact your local services to find out what they offer.

  • Self-help resources. Your doctor could give you access to online CBT programmes, or prescribe self-help books to help you learn to manage your anxiety.

  • Medication. There are several different drugs that can be helpful in managing anxiety. If you have any concerns about taking medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding, you can always discuss this with your doctor.

You may be offered a combination of medication and a talking treatment. Many people find that taking medication helps them feel stable enough to get the most out of a talking treatment. However, other people find medication or talking treatments alone are more helpful.

If there are long waiting lists for talking treatments in your area, your doctor may recommend that you try an antidepressant to help you manage your mental health in the meantime.

What can I do to help myself? +

Parent giving child a shoulder ride

Although the best way to treat depression is to seek help from a healthcare professional, there are steps you can take yourself to reduce your chances of developing depression and help you recover once you've been diagnosed.

Try to:

  • look for the positive things in your life, however hard that may seem
  • involve your partner or someone you're close to in your pregnancy and baby
  • make time to relax
  • be open about your feelings
  • ask for help with practical tasks like grocery shopping and household chores
  • find out about local support groups (check out our Who Can Help page)
  • make time to rest
  • eat well  
  • find time to have fun
  • organise small treats every day, such as a workout or a coffee with friends

Try to avoid:

  • doing too much – cut down on other commitments when you're pregnant or caring for a new baby
  • getting involved in stressful situations
  • drinking too much tea, coffee, alcohol or cola, which can stop you sleeping well
  • moving house
  • being too hard on yourself or your partner

If you're looking for other women's pregnancy challenges, here's a link to a life story about a woman who suffered with post-natal anxiety.

Who can help? +

Local Support +

Branding – People's History of the NHS

NHS Support available in different languages:

CPFT logo

Perinatal Mental Health Service - Our team supports mums and mums-to-be who are experiencing mental health challenges during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood.

We are a multi-disciplinary team of specialist mental health clinicians working across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which aims to:

  • Offer a safe, empathic, and supportive service which holds women and their families’ experiences in mind.
  • Work closely with our colleagues in maternity and health visiting, and across the wider community organizations, to develop a seamless, integrated service for pregnant and new mums.
  • Increase awareness and understanding of mental health challenges in the local community and help reduce stigma.

Health Visiting service – The health visiting service is a universal-progressive, needs-led, evidence-based service for children to age 5 years and their families, delivered by specialist community public health nurses.



CPSL Mind logo

CPSL Mind Supporting Parents Service – (Self-Refer) – CPSL Mind’s Perinatal Team offer a range of courses and peer support groups which help pregnant women and new Mums to stay emotionally healthy on their motherhood journey.

CPSL MIND have several services available, for example: 

Connecting Mums, 6 week short intervention courses for mums who are socially isolated, this course also offers tips and tools on management and prevention for mental wellbeing. Mums can bring along their babies to the sessions and we have volunteers on hand to help look after the children while mum interacts in a group environment, babies are in the same room as mums. We deliver these from a number of different children’s centres in Peterborough.

Mums Matter, 8 week targeted intervention course, this course is for Mums who are that bit more poorly, we deliver the courses in children’s centres and pay for a crèche for the children, the crèche is always in the same building as the mums and we work with the mums in a separate room, this course is designed to help mums manage the everyday and dispel the myths. We use tools such as CBT, mindfulness, meditation and work on self-esteem.

We are launching a Mums Monthly Peers Support group that will be starting on the 2nd July 2018, this will be held at First Steps Children’s Centre, it will take place on the first Monday of each month from 1000 – 1200, this is a peer led support group and the volunteers that lead the group have accessed our services. Mums can bring children along to the group.

CPSL MIND can accept Mums who are pregnant and have a child who is up to 2 years old, Mums can self-refer by contacting them on 01733 362990 or they can accept professional or other organisations referrals.

Peterborough Connecting Mums- Cambridgeshire, Peterborough & South Lincolnshire MIND (formerly Peterborough & Fenland MIND) deliver perinatal mental health programmes. Peterborough City Council have commissioned this organisation to deliver 5 perinatal mental health programmes per annum (Connecting Mums & Mums Matter), which have been specifically designed, piloted and evidenced by CPSL MIND.

Presently, the programmes only operate in Peterborough and have an annual reach target of 45 women, although some partners/family members are also supported in a 'supporter' session, which is part of the Mums Matter course. From a commissioning perspective, the local authority are continuing to invest in this for the 2018/19 financial year, however ongoing funding is unclear; it is anticipated that this need will be picked up through the Better Births transformation.

CPSL MIND - CPSL Mind is a mental health charity which promotes positive wellbeing across our communities and supports people on their road to recovery from a wide range of mental health challenges. They offer online support, community initiatives to connect people, counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, peer support groups, Perinatal services and opportunities to get involved with training, volunteering, campaigning and fundraising. Click here for info on their GoodLife service and here to view their timetable of GoodLife service group programmes.

CPSL MIND - Mind have lots of helpful advice and information online about the different kinds of support you can get and they also run lots of workshops and courses. If you would like to self refer to Mind, we have added link to their different services here and also a link to their 'contact us' where you can make an enquiry online or on the phone.



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Raham Project - A group for mothers and their partners of ethnic backgrounds. This group is dedicated to all things related to pregnancy, childbirth and the post birth period- with an emphasis on maintaining and improving maternal mental well being. 



Ormiston Families

Ormiston Families Small steps Together Team - The Small Steps Together team is based in Cambridgeshire. Staff and volunteers consist of specialist perinatal mental health workers with both lived experience and professional expertise.

The service is open to mums and mums to be who have low to moderate mental health needs during pregnancy and up to 2 years after birth.



Home-Start Cambridgeshire logo

Home-Start Cambridgeshire - is one of the UK’s leading family support charities, a voluntary organisation offering support to families who have at least one child under five when family life becomes difficult. All round the country local schemes recruit and train volunteers to support local families with young children at home.

Our service supports families, through weekly volunteer home visits, to deal with diverse concerns such as parental mental health issues, isolation, postnatal illness, disability, bereavement, multiple births and parenting skills. We also support families in a group setting currently in Chesterton and Wisbech and run an online group called First Connections.

Our trained volunteers provide tailored practical and emotional support to help parents and children build confidence, independence, resilience and community connections.

This early intervention service offers a gateway to many other community services and we work in partnership with them to improve the life chances of our families and young children.



Peterborough logo Early Help Hub - Single point of contact for all Early Help Assessments, Family Plans and Reviews that have been completed by any agency. Here's the Cambridge County Council Support Hub website.


The Family Nurse Partnership | Family Nurse Partnership- The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is a structured home visiting parenting programme, delivered by specially trained family nurses, from early pregnancy until the child is two years old to vulnerable teenage mothers. The family nurse and the young parent(s) commit to an average of 64 planned home visits over two and a half years.


Child and Family Centres Logo Child & Family Centres/Children’s centresDeliver evidence-based parenting programmes and targeted support for Domestic Abuse in conjunction with the Early Help offer.


Home

Birth and Beyond Community Support (BBCS)NCT Birth and Beyond Community Support is a programme that trains local women to become volunteer peer supporters in order to help mums during the all-important first 1,000 days. Volunteers signpost to local services, accompany women to appointments or local services such as children’s centres, foodbanks or financial advice services, and provide vital non-judgemental listening and emotional support.



Cornerstone pregnancy advice centre logo
Cornerstone Pregnancy Advice Centre - (Self-Refer and Professional Referrals) - Our vision is to reach every woman in Cambridgeshire facing an unplanned pregnancy so that we can offer her time, space and non-directive information in order that they can make a fully informed choice and to offer her on-going support, whatever decision they make.You may be facing an unplanned pregnancy and feeling worried and anxious about what to do. Or you may have had an abortion and you’re now experiencing emotional pain and finding it difficult to understand why you feel the way you do. Help is available from people who genuinely care.


Third Sector Awards 2017: Brand development - Barnardo's | Third Sector Barnardos - We help children through the trauma of sexual abuse and exploitation. We provide support for young people in care – and we don’t forget about them when they leave the care system. We give children caring for a loved one the help and support they deserve. And that’s not all. Our specialist workers support families through domestic abuse, mental health problems, prison sentences, asylum seeking and much more. We also amplify the voices of young people to influence Government on the issues that affect their lives, fighting their corner and making sure their voices are heard. The scale of what we do may be big and complex, but our aim is simple – to provide the best outcome for every child, no matter who they are or what they have been through.


Everyone Health Logo Health Improvement antenatal- Address lifestyle/behavioural factors- smoking, diet & obesity, physical activity, drugs & alcohol, sexual health. Delivered by Everyone Health  in Cambridgeshire and Solutions for Health in Peterborough.


National Support +

Bliss | Charity Partner | Emma's Diary Bliss - Bliss offers a wide range of free services for the families of premature and sick babies including a new video call support service.


Association for Post Natal Illness Association for Post Natal Illness (APNI) - The Association for Post-Natal Illness provides support to anyone suffering from or affected by post-natal Illness including partners, family/friends, it increases public awareness of the illness and encourages research into its cause/nature.


APP logo Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) - Action on Postpartum Psychosis is the national charity for women and families affected by postpartum psychosis (PP). PP is a severe mental illness which begins suddenly following childbirth. Symptoms include hallucinations and delusions, often with mania, depression or confusion. Over 1400 women experience PP each year in the UK (1 to 2 in every 1000 mothers). An episode of PP can be very frightening for women and their families. Most women go on to make a full recovery, however the journey to full recovery can be long and difficult.

We run an award-winning peer support service, connecting women and families throughout the UK to recovered volunteers, via: an online peer support forum; one to one email support; meeting a volunteer programme (video and in person); social groups and creative workshops.

We develop patient information for women who have experienced PP and their families, co-produced by women, families, specialist clinicians and leading academic experts.

We offer training to frontline health professionals in PP and Managing SMI in pregnancy, co-produced and co-delivered by academics, clinicians and women with lived experience.

We facilitate research into the causes of PP, treatments and what helps families to recover.

We promote greater public awareness of PP in the general public, work to address stigma and misinformation, and campaign for improved perinatal mental health services.



Dads Matter UK Dads Matter UK - Dads Matter UK is here to provide support for dads worried about or suffering from Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about being a dad and if you will be good enough. This is just like what mothers experience. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.


The Twins Trust - The Twins Trust Bereavement Support Service exists to support all parents and carers of twins, triplets or more who have died whether it was during or after pregnancy. We are sorry for your loss and hope that by making contact with the Bereavement Support Service you will find some comfort to help you with your grief.


Tommys logo

Tommy's - An organisation that provides accredited midwife-led pregnancy health information for parents-to-be, and funds research into the causes of pregnancy loss.


Sands logo SANDS(Self-Refer) Sands exists to support anyone affected by the death of a baby, to improve the bereavement care received by parents and families, and to influence policy makers and promote research to reduce the number of babies dying.


PANDAS (Self-Refer) - Pre And Post Natal Depression Advice and Support (PANDAS) help support and advise any parent who is experiencing a perinatal mental illness. They also inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering.



Branding – People's History of the NHS The NHS - has useful information and tips on how to cope with perinatal and postnatal depression and anxiety.


*Some information gathered from www.nhs.uk and the services listed.

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