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Just as your body goes through many physical changes during pregnancy so does your mind, thoughts and emotions. It is very normal to experience mixed emotions, such as joy, excitement, and crying, feeling sad or worried while you are pregnant. Pregnancy hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone contribute these mixed emotional highs and lows, that you may experience, particularly in the first three months following confirmation of your pregnancy. It is important to look after your emotional well-being during pregnancy.

Five steps

Connect: There is no reason for you to feel that you are alone. Stay in touch with loved ones. Join a group. Speak to your health professional. Talk about how you feel. Connecting with others can make you feel good.

Stay active: Step outside. Physical activity in pregnancy, at your own level and pace, is safe and good for you. It can positively influence the way you think and feel, whilst having great benefits for the growth and development of your baby.

Take notice: Be aware. Notice the beautiful. Do things that you enjoy. Being pregnant brings on a number of physical and emotional changes. Taking time for you is important. It can be hard to stay cheerful when you are tired or uncomfortable. Rest when you need to and be realistic about how much you can do in work, at home, or in your social life.

Keep learning: Go to antenatal classes. Speak to your midwife. Learn more. Pregnancy is a transition and a time of change. Boost your confidence and improve your wellbeing by learning more about these changes and taking control.

Give and receive: Do something nice for a friend or a stranger. Accepting help when it is offered to you and being kind to yourself and others can be very rewarding. It can boost your mood and increase your sense of wellbeing. 

Key Points
If you suspect there is a problem with the way you think or feel, or if you have had mental health problems in the past, there are many ways you can be helped by health professionals. Talking to your midwife, GP, obstetrician or health visitor about your emotional wellbeing is important and can help you towards getting the support that you want and need.
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Normal emotional changes and when to seek help
It is very normal to have concerns about yourself and your developing baby while you are pregnant, particularly if this is your first baby or you have experienced complications in a previous pregnancy. After giving birth you my experience the ‘baby blues’ which are symptoms of feeling tearful, irritable, sad or anxious.  The ‘baby blues’ are very common and happen as a result of the rapid changes in your body chemistry and hormone levels during the first week after giving birth. During this time your body will go through many adjustments to promote the start of breast milk production and in most cases the baby blues will ease away naturally with 7 – 10 days after having your baby. However, if during pregnancy you are feeling sad, anxious or if after the first week of having your baby you continue to feel sad, low in mood, worried or anxious it is important that you seek support and help from your GP, Midwife and or Health Visitor.

What is a PerinatalMental Health problem?
Perinatal is the period of timearound your pregnancy and up to the first year after having your baby. During the perinatal period around 1 in 10 women will experience common mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety and or other mental health concerns (see Physical, Emotional Wellbeing, Perinatal Mental Health & Parenting Advice for further information)

Why do perinatal mental health problems happen?
There is no concrete research evidence to answer this, as mental health concerns can happen to anyone, at any time. Research has suggested that women who experience a difficult birth, stressful life events or lack of support, relationship difficulties, financial worries or those who may have experienced a mental health concern in the past before pregnancy, in a previous pregnancy or after having their baby may be at a greater risk of experiencing a perinatal mental problem. However, some women may have none of these factors but still go on to experience a perinatal mental health problem. What we do know is that you can get better by receiving support and help.

What symptoms might I have if I am experiencing a Perinatal Mental Health problem?

  • Low mood
  • Tearfulness
  • Persistent sadness
  • Anger or increased irritability
  • Extreme changes in appetite
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless
  • Feeling anxious and or often nervous that ‘something will happen’ or ‘go wrong’
  • Sleep difficulties (which are not related to complication or discomfort of pregnancy)
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Social withdrawal from partner, friends and or family
  • Obsessive thoughts and or behaviours
  • Suicidal thoughts – Do seek urgent support from your local Accident and Emergency service if you experience such thoughts or you feel that your mental health is worsening

How can I get help?

  • Speak to your GP, Midwife, Obstetrician  or Health Visitor
  • Talk to your partner, family or friends about how you are feeling
  • Be aware that talking about how you feel and seeking help is always better than dealing with difficult situations alone in silence

 What help will I be offered?
Our midwives, doctors and health visitors are trained in perinatal mental health and are aware of the physical and emotional changes that occur during pregnancy and following childbirth. It is important that you do not embarrassed or afraid to talk about how you are feeling as they are there to help you. After talking about your mental health concerns the healthcare professional will assist you to identify your needs and offer a referral to supportive services such as self-help strategy’s, 1-to-1 counselling, psychology, or specialist perinatal mental health supportive services. The level of support that you are offered will be based on your own personal mental health needs.   

I would like to get further information, where can I find this?
A number of useful resources and are provided here:

Self-help

  • Join a group meeting expectant or new mothers in your local area (speak to your midwife or health visitor about these services offered within your local children centre)
  • Follow the 5 Steps to Emotional wellbeing in Pregnancy 
  • Take a look at helpful websites and resources listed below:

Local services

City and Hackney Mind
- Part of the City and Hackney community since 1980, they offer advice, counselling and support people with experience of mental ill health
Bikur Cholim - support for people with an experience of mental ill health within the Orthodox Jewish community living in North London
Derman - support for people with an experience of mental ill health within the Kurdish and Turkish, Turkish Cypriot, eastern European living in Hackney

Physical, Emotional Wellbeing, Perinatal Mental Health & Parenting Advice

Two in Mind - offer resources and fact sheets about emotional wellbeing and promoting healthy parent-child relationships during pregnancy and beyond
Unicef - offers information about preparing for baby and bonding with baby during pregnancy and following childbirth
http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/ - offer a helpline, support groups, online support and advise for any parent who is experiencing a perinatal mental illness
http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/
http://www.beginbeforebirth.org/ -
https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant - offers information about, pregnancy and offers practical advice about staying well

Work and Benefits
Maternity Action - provide expert advice and support to empower parents about their rights at work or benefit entitlement

https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights - offers expert advice around statutory maternity rights and shared parental leave entitlement

Single parents
Gingerbread - provide expert advice, practical support and for single parents

You can email the Specialist Midwife for Mental Health at Midwifeformentalhealth@homerton.nhs.uk  for non-urgent enquiries, she will aim to respond to you within 5 working days 

What do I do if I have an urgent mental health concern and need to see or speak to someone now?

  • Please attend your local Accident and Emergency service if you feel that you mental health is deteriorating and you need immediate support/help